Despite some last-minute hiccups, which postponed the return to class for Diamond Jenness Secondary School students by a day, construction in and around the building is still slated to be completed by the beginning of November.While students were expected back on Wednesday, Sept. 5, it was decided to wait an extra day.
School principal Heather Pedjase said the work is coming along very nicely, and she is proud of the way her staff and students have been coping with the distractions.
“They have been dealing with construction for the past three years and they are doing a fantastic job of taking it all in stride,” she said. “We have a wonderful group of teachers here.”
Everything in the school is functional, except for the main concourse area, Pedjase said. Washrooms, which were not operational last week, are up and running now. The gym and library aren’t entirely completed, but can still be used by students.
“We’re in the library handing out books and in the gym. There are only a few more tweaks here and there,” Pedjase said.
The completion of the concourse area has the principal hoping the school can host its own graduation ceremonies next summer.
“Grad usually takes place off campus because of the construction and, although the final decision hasn’t been made yet, I am looking forward to having it back at the school,” she said.
Most of the school has undergone renovations over the past three years.
“The building needed extensive modernization in order to extend its service life, reduce costs for operation and maintenance, and meet new educational program requirements,” according to the GNWT’s Department of Public Works and Services website.
Several classrooms were sealed-off and unavailable during the renovations, forcing the school to make alternate arrangements with staff and students.
The construction by Arctic Canada Construction, to the tune of $28.2 million, involved various phases. A state of the art trades centre was completed in 2010 and considerable renovations were made to the exterior grounds of the school, as well. New grass will be seeded on the west side of the building, and new concrete will be poured in the area where the garbage cans normally are.
A brand new office area, as well as a fitness area overlooking the gym, will be completed as scheduled at the end of October.
– Myles Dolphin