The new Kelly Road Secondary School – which will bring together the latest in technology and design in the creation of a world-class teaching and learning space – is one year away from opening its doors.
The new school, in the Hart Highway area of Prince George, is on target for a September 2020 opening. The cost of the project is being shared by the provincial government ($43.3 million) and School District No. 57 ($1 million).
“I’m excited about it,” said Rod Allen, Superintendent of Schools for School District No. 57. “We all know that the most important thing for a great learning environment is a positive and respectful working relationship between teachers and students, which we have in all of our buildings. That being said, it’s great that we have a new building with learning facilities that will enable the new curriculum to be more fully implemented – features like flexible learning spaces and more open learning spaces.”
The new school will accommodate 900 students and will replace the original Kelly Road, which was built in the early 1960s. The new building sits behind the original one, which will be demolished once it is no longer in use.
The technology built into the new Kelly Road and the design of the building will set it apart from all other schools in the district.
“This is the first time that it’s all being brought together all at once,” said Barry Bepple, School District No. 57’s Energy and Sustainable Conservation Coordinator. “We do all of this technology at individual locations throughout our district but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to build it and bring it all together as a collection of all the things we’ve been learning about.
“People will liken it to Duchess Park, which was completed in 2010, but it’s different,” Bepple added. “It’s designed differently, the spaces within it are designed differently. There are a lot of feature enhancements to each of the spaces.”
Nino Maletta, the district’s General Manager, Facility Services, said the new Kelly Road has “a lot of connectivity,” and not just from a technology standpoint. The design, he said, will facilitate human connectivity in the form of face-to-face interaction.
“It’s designed where there’s more ability for team teaching because a lot more of the walls are glass or they can slide out of the way or there are breakout spaces where group work can happen,” Maletta said. “That’s different than what we have in other schools. We have a little bit at Duchess but we carved out more spaces around the (new Kelly Road) to facilitate small group work. You don’t have to necessarily stay rigidly in your classroom to work on something.”
Area by area, features of the new Kelly Road include:
Each classroom will have interactive projectors and whiteboards, dedicated sound systems with microphones, multi-level LED lighting with daylight harvesting and motion controls, individual heating and cooling units monitoring indoor air quality, wireless clocks and wide area access points. This is the first time in School District No. 57 that such technology is being installed comprehensively into an entire school. Specialized classrooms are being designed for Industrial Education, Information Technology and Robotics/Maker Space.
Learning areas/breakout zones
Two classrooms will have sliding glass wall systems, giving students the opportunity for collaborative learning. Two other classrooms will open into a common area, which will also provide students with collaborative learning opportunities. The common area will share space with a nutrition centre that will include a microwave, sink and counter space for lunch activities. Numerous breakout areas are being created throughout the building, areas that will facilitate group discussions and activities. Some of these areas will be linked to the collaborative zones as part of the open-concept design. One open area will include televisions and charging ports for devices.
A multi-purpose atrium will serve as a congregation hub for the school. The area will include a spiral staircase, spectator viewing into the gymnasium, a performance platform, a dedicated sound system and specialized acoustics. The ceiling will be made from fabric with millions of tiny holes in it to dampen any escaping sound. A feature wall of three-dimensional wood design will illustrate the importance of the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser rivers to the region.
The library entrance will open to the atrium, which will create an expansive space with no confines. Inside, there will be two breakout areas dedicated for student activities. A computer lab attached to the library will allow students to search for information or receive training.
An Aboriginal Centre will be located in the heart of the school. It will be a gathering place for students and staff members, a spot for activities and meals and an area that will be used to display artwork brought from the old Kelly Road.
Drama students will work in a facility with performance-level computerized lighting and sound systems. The stage will feature LED lighting with an independent rig over the audience for adjustability. The room will include a sprung-wood drama floor, as well as an electric screen and projector system.
Students in the music room will have a space with a high vaulted ceiling, advanced acoustics and a dedicated sound system.
The school will have art rooms dedicated for students working on two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects. The rooms will be adjacent to a photography area with a sliding door that opens onto a theatre crossover space.
Foods, pantry and kitchen
These areas will be linked, rather than being separated. Accessibility between the kitchen and pantry – and potentially into the foods rooms – will open up possibilities that didn’t previously exist.
An NBA-level wood flooring system will be a primary feature of the gymnasium, which will include a drop-down divider curtain, independent basketball score clocks, sound system and LED lighting.
The new Kelly Road is being built to a LEED Gold equivalency (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which means it will meet the highest international certification standards for being environmentally friendly.
“It’s very stringent and we’ve done it affordably and sensibly,” Bepple said. “It’s a LEED Gold-designed project. It’s got all the elements in it.”
As a standout feature of the new Kelly Road, Bepple points to the building’s unique four-pipe hydronic (water) loop heating and ventilation system that allows for the heating and cooling of individual rooms. The system utilizes an 80-tonne geothermal exchange.
“The difference with this system is, before, we would use a heat pump to move energy throughout the building, while this system will actually use the cool groundwater to condition the spaces,” Bepple said.
“It will be very efficient. Adjustable controls for each room will regulate the space temperature. Three heat recovery units will provide conditioned fresh air to the spaces while utilizing exhaust air energy to preheat incoming air during the winter season.”
For all rooms in the building, natural daylight has been incorporated where possible through the use of skylights and windows.
Outside the school there will be two natural-grass sports fields.
The completion of the new Kelly Road building will mark the end of the first phase of the project. The second phase will include the safe removal of material from the old school (fall of 2020) and its demolition, which may be finshed as early as the spring of 2021. After that, some grading work around the new school will be done, followed by the installation of roadways, bus lanes and parking lots.
Among current Kelly Road students, Bepple said there is already a sense of pride about the new school.
“There has been very, very little vandalism or any other issues at the construction site,” he said. “That can be attributed to, I think, the students. I think they’ve done a really good job of respecting the fact that we’re trying to give them something beautiful.”