To give a very brief overview and supply some important information…
The VSB and province have decided to use the existing, Eric Hamber Secondary building to run as a seismic swing space to house students from multiple schools going through seismic upgrades and rebuilds in the future. This will save funds as currently they are placing students in portables for extended periods of time and paying to bus the students. Some are saying that this is all about bottom line and good timing for the political party on that media release last year and that this project will receive much attention due to the geographical location of the school. Either way, we believe the primary obstacle to achieving a superior replacement school is the "Area Standards" document that is now the basis for all school construction in the province. Given that everyone (including the Project Office, the Superintendent of Schools, and the Administration) is bound by this illogical document, the debate and notification of the document shortcomings must occur at the MLA and Minister of Education levels and the VSB trustees must advocate accordingly.
The Area Standards assumes that a student population will never increase over 1100 students. At 1100 there are no further additions to gym space, no matter how many more students there are. If the gym space actually increased as it should in that document, then Hamber would get more than 600 m2 for that purpose - enough for at least another small gym! The shortcomings of the document are leading to millions of dollars being invested in school designs that fall short of their communities' reasonable expectations.
This is an email that was sent to the Minister of Education this morning by Ross Davidson, Eric Hamber grad, class of 1972. He has given me permission to release as needed and I believe his email would be a positive share for current students, parents and staff.
To whom it may concern;
Since graduating from Eric Hamber Secondary School in 1972, I have worked in a nearby school district as a teacher and school / district administrator. I was involved in opening new schools, closing old ones and renovating a few worth saving. Clearly I know firsthand the impact rebuilding a school has on a community. I am a Hamber alumni whom, some would say, bleeds blue and maroon ( Hamber school colours ). I and my classmates are so connected to our alma mater that my old 1972 basketball team gathers each year for a golf tournament and storytelling session which includes players, coach and managers. In addition, as well as regular official school reunions, many alumni get together from time to time to reminisce and remember the good old days as a Griffin. Needless to say that Eric Hamber played a huge roll in our lives. In fact my life and career path was significantly shaped by that wonderful school and great staff. I forget most classes I took but will always remember the hours spent in the gyms and on the fields and the events and concerts in the auditorium. Invaluable times and cherished memories for sure !
When we first heard that the old building was being torn down, alumni were very sad but realistic in light of the seismic concerns. However, we just assumed the campus would be rebuilt with the same grandeur as the building that served so many for so long and stood as a beacon for public education at the high profile corner of Oak and 33rd. We are distressed to hear that some facilities such as gym space, track and field space as well as auditorium space will be reduced or eliminated. Driving down Oak street and seeing that track, fields and bleachers is a constant reminder of how a great school facility should be. A high school should be a pivotal place in the community. In fact, some would argue schools are replacing the church and town square as the centre of a neighbourhood. On behalf of all Eric Hamber Alumni, I urge you to rebuild Eric Hamber with all the facilities needed to educate the whole student and accommodate the growing community. Gym, music and fine arts space is integral to developing the whole student both from a curricular and extracurricular point of view. A 1995 movie I remember that helped guide my decisions as a school administrator focuses on this concept and I ask you to watch Mr. Holland's Opus. A quote from the movie always resonated with me and it goes something like this, "...you can teach the kids to read and write but without the sports and arts programs what will they read and write about ?"
Please consider the impact of the new school design for the future of our community, children, grandchildren and for generations to come.
( Eric Hamber 1972 Alumni )
Together in support. On behalf of the alumni,
Eric Hamber Alumni Coordinator
604 454 8959
"Look to the past, Look to the present, Look to the future"