A new public high school and community centre in Edmonton’s far south end will have three gymnasiums, a feature staircase that could be used as a stage and relaxing hangout spaces for students to work in small groups.
Edmonton Public Schools released concept designs Wednesday evening for Dr. Anne Anderson High School, to be constructed on 35 Avenue SW in Heritage Valley. A $5.5-million contribution from the city will give the public access to a fitness centre, indoor track and multipurpose rooms within the building.
Hundreds of people were consulted to draw up designs for Edmonton’s newest high school, including students who had a lot to say about lockers, said Chris Wright, managing director of infrastructure for the school district.
There will be lockers for all students, he said — they’ll just be clustered in common areas of the school instead of lining hallways like a traditional building.
No theatre planned
There will be more gathering spaces for students to work outside of conventional classrooms, more space for project-based learning and more flexible spaces than in existing schools, Wright said.
“Students are constantly evolving in their approach to learning,” he said. “There’s been a lot of research, a lot of contemplation of learning styles and what that looks like in the 21st Century, and how to accommodate it.”
Inspiration came from looking at other school designs, and touring schools in the U.S., Calgary, and Regina, he said.
Schematic drawings of the future two-storey building for 1,800 students show 51 classrooms, 12 science labs and 12 classrooms for trades or arts classes. Proposed for the building’s exterior is a mix of materials, including glass, brick and multicoloured siding.
If the board receives funding from the province, it will later tack on a 24-classroom addition to accommodate 600 more students.
The school will have solar panels installed, and the district is exploring whether other forms of renewable energy can be incorporated into the design.
Missing from the plans is a theatre.
There will be studio space to study drama, art, music and dance, Wright said. The district will work with the principal to decide where school performances would take place — perhaps on a temporary stage in one of the gyms, he said.
Jasper Place physics and astronomy teacher Ian Doktor is making a pitch for the district to install an observatory on the roof. If the building plans include easy roof access and protective railings, he could assemble a small dome in the roof to house a few telescopes and about 16 students, he said.
“Everyone I’ve ever met is interested in astronomy,” he said Wednesday. “I think it’s a great way to get kids interested in science.”
With no community halls constructed in new neighbourhoods south of Anthony Henday Drive, local residents will have access to space in the school for community league meetings, Girl Guide troupes or yoga classes, for example.
The details of a lease agreement between the city and public school board are still in the works, Wright said.
The school district unveiled the proposed design to people in the community at a Wednesday night meeting, looking for more feedback before finalizing the plans.
Wright hopes construction can begin by early next summer, with the school opening in September 2021.
The total cost to the provincial government of school construction is an estimated $69 million.
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