TWO PORTABLE classrooms were moved to a back parking lot of Skeena Junior Secondary School last week in preparation for the school’s conversion to a middle school this fall.
The school population is expected to rise from its current count of 501 students in Grades 8-10 to approximately 630 students in Grades 7-9, says principal Phillip Barron.
This fall’s projected school population is close to its capacity and it has been at the number before, but the nature of a middle school calls for more classroom space than the school now has, he said.
“The plan for our Grades 7 and 8 is to have more of a home room, not like the block rotation we have now,” said Barron.
“A block rotation frees up more classrooms but that isn’t the case with home rooms. For our Grades 7 and 8 it will be like the schools they came from. For our Grade 9s, it will be like it is now,” he added.
The increase in students means the teacher population will increase by four people, Barron said.
At the same time, the school is adding a vice-principal to make two. “They’ll also have teaching assignments,” said Barron.
The conversion of Skeena to a middle school is part of a wholesale shift in public education in Terrace and Thornhill spurred by a decline in overall student population.
It’s a chain of events starting with the closure of Thornhill Junior Secondary School next month.
That’s to be followed by the move of all Grade 7 students to Skeena this fall. In turn, Skeena will lose its Grade 10 students to Caledonia Senior Secondary, joining Grades 11-12 students there already.
Also taking place at Skeena next month is the installation of a playground on one section of the large grassy field in front of the school. It’s going to contain equipment suitable for Grades 7 to 9 and is being paid for by a provincial grant.
“We talked to students at our connecting schools and parents at those schools as well,” said Barron of the planning that went into the equipment purchase decision.