January 9, 2016 11:36 pm
Updated: January 9, 2016 11:37 pm

Students still in class while Edmonton school undergoes massive overhaul

WATCH ABOVE: A major overhaul is underway at Ross Sheppard High School. When all is said and done the school will have undergone a major cosmetic and structural overhaul, all while students still attend class. Quinn Ohler reports.


EDMONTON- Ross Sheppard High School is getting a $45-million facelift. After more than 5 decades since it opened, work has started on the cosmetic and structural overhaul, as students still sit in classrooms.

“Not much has been done in that school for some time,” said Lorne Parker, the executive director of infrastructure for Edmonton Public Schools. “This is going to make a significant change in the structure of the school and the learning environment.”

Construction started June 1, 2015.

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The biggest change people will see is in the giant orange tarp that drapes over a brand new gymnasium, but there’s plenty of other more subtle modifications under way.

Eventually, the old smaller gym will be transformed into a performance space and a fitness centre. There will added space for the school’s Mandarin program, new music rooms and updates to classrooms, some that still have the original chalkboards and blinds from when the school first opened.

Other changes students won’t be able to see, but they will be able to feel. There will be updates done to the boiler system, replacing past work that offered only two temperatures – hot and cold.

As you walk through the halls you see the changes taking place first hand. Most noticeable is the missing ceiling throughout the hallways, and the occasional construction sign or worker wearing a hard hat.

Ross Sheppard High School

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“The construction crews have been great about keeping the noise work down during the day.” Vice Principal Stacy Fysh told Global News as she walked through the halls.

As construction crews schedule their work around the school day, the staff and students have also had to make a few adjustments. “We have a lot of warning before anything moves,” Fysh added, for the most part, it just means students and staff have to find new ways to get to their classrooms.

“Most of us just have to change our migration pattern,” she said.

The excitement is already starting to build within the walls of the high school. Phase one of the project is expected to be completed in February. It will be the first look for many at what has been hidden behind closed doors for months.

But the end result, a finish date of September 2018, is what causes the Vice Principal to light up the most. She said it’s the people who use the school the most, like students and staff, that had the most input into what it will eventually look like.

“We’ve worked really hard to try and listen to what teachers and students want their future learning to look like,” Fysh said.

Ross Sheppard isn’t the only school in Edmonton undergoing a major modernization at this time.

Vimy Ridge Academy, Belgravia School, McKay Avenue School and Alberta School for the Deaf are also undergoing construction.

The school division also has several new schools being constructed.


So why renovate?

“We do an assessment when we are looking at a modernization and if it exceeds 85% of the building value then we will go for a replacement,” said Lorne Parker.

With many schools in mature neighbourhoods, it’s more cost effective to make the changes to the structures that already exist.

In the case of Ross Sheppard, Parker said he couldn’t give an exact number of what it would cost to rebuild, but said “it would be significantly more than $45-million.”

With 90 schools in the district more than half a century old, Edmonton Public Schools are said to expect more modernization projects like the one at Ross Sheppard Composite High School in the future.


© 2016 Shaw Media

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