It’s the day many parents were waiting for, and many kids had been dreading: the first day of school.
It wasn’t a typical first day of school for students at Sir Arthur Currie Public School, Cedar Hollow Public School, or St. John Catholic French Immersion.
The three schools, two in the Thames Valley District School Board, and one in the London District Catholic School Board are brand new.
Sir Arthur Currie was built at a cost of $14.3 million and can house as many as 535 students, Cedar Hollow cost $16.2 million and can hold 625 students, while St. John was built at a cost of $12 million and can hold 500 students.
Leanne Labidy was dropping off her son Colton for his first day of Grade one at Sir Arthur Currie on Tuesday.
“I think he’s excited, he’s a little nervous going to a different school. He was at Centennial Central before.”
Thames Valley District School Board chair Matt Reid noted that building new schools provides an anchor in the community.
“You can have more walkers, the community feels more closely affiliated with their community school.”
One of those now attending a school in their own community is Henry. The 8-year-old rode his bicycle to start his first day of Grade 3 and plans to ride it every day this year.
“”I’ve been waiting all year to go to school,” he said. “I mostly like math, actually.”
While construction isn’t quite done at the new school just yet with the gym, some instructional spaces, and the Family Childcare Centre not yet complete, new learning spaces are ready and waiting for students to expand their learning.
“We were very intentional and purposeful in our furniture and equipment,” said Principal Sue Bruyns.
“You’ll find in all of the classrooms lots of mobile technology. There are no longer rows of desks so there’s lots of collaborative learning spaces.”
The first day of school brings a warning from London police and OPP.
“All drivers need to be aware that it is a very busy time, and with that excitement can come distractions. If the little ones aren’t paying attention, the motorists on our roadways need to be. That will ensure a safe return to school for everyone,” said Sgt. Amanda Pfeffer of the Traffic Management Unit with the London Police Service.
Pfeffer is also reminding parents to educate their kids about road safety.
“Young kids that are returning to school need to have that conversation with their parents. Parents need to make sure their kids understand what the rules of the road are so they can keep themselves as safe as possible,” said Pfeffer.
Ultimately, she adds, it’s the drivers’ responsibility to follow the rules and act safely.
“The reduction in the speed limit, increased education, and enforcement will assist with student safety, but motorists have the obligation to control their driving behaviours. Be aware of the laws and follow them,” said Pfeffer.
Last year, the city reduced the speed limit to 40 km/h around Jean Vanier Catholic School, Westmount Public School, and Saunders Secondary School on Viscount Road.
The city has plans to reduce the speed in areas around other schools, such as Cleardale Public School in south London.