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Ground breaks for new elementary school in Trail

PHOTOS: New build expected to be ready for students in spring 2024

Years of championing for a new elementary school in Glenmerry finally became a reality Friday morning with an official groundbreaking in the expansive grassy field behind the old school.

Before shovels dug in, however, school district staff and board trustees treated students, parents, teachers, and community and city advocates to a video rendering of what the new $39M build will have to offer when it’s ready to house students in two years time.

Met with boisterous applause by students and guests, the new Glenmerry school is certainly promising a state-of-the-art space conducive to inclusive learning in bright and spacious classrooms, an airy gymnasium and a unique gathering feature called “learning stairs.”

“This project has been a dream for many years and having shovels in the ground today truly brings it to reality,” Lisa Babcock,chair, Glenmerry Elementary School PAC (Parents Advisory Committee) shares.

“The GES PAC is thrilled to be part of this important announcement and I know the excitement will continue to build for students, teachers, staff, and parents as construction begins in the weeks ahead.”

Critical to the new build is a greater seat capacity for students from Kindergarten to Grade 7. The province confirms the new school will increase capacity with an additional 165 seats, bringing the total from 270 to 435 to align with growing enrolment demand.

“We are excited to break ground on the replacement for Glenmerry Elementary school,” said Catherine Zaitsoff, board chair for the Kootenay-Columbia school district. “With a community and sustainability focus, the Trail community and the school district look forward to the culmination of years of hard work and the difference this school will make when it opens.”

The province notes the school will be built according to LEED Gold standards, which is described as a framework for providing healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving green buildings. (LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a green building certification program used worldwide.)

The new Glenmerry school will also be used as a neighbourhood learning centre, providing additional space for community programming.

Students will be housed in the existing school during construction, with the new build expected to be classroom-ready in the spring of 2024.

“It’s wonderful to see that students in Trail will soon have a new and expanded elementary school,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay-West. (At the Friday groundbreaking Minister Conroy was represented by constituency assistant Angelika Brunner).

“The neighbourhood learning centre will further support families in the area by providing them with before and afterschool care. These are the kind of investments that make a positive impact on families.”

The school was built in 1959, and originally intended for children living in Glenmerry. After the shuttering of the elementary school in Sunningdale (1997) and then in East Trail ( Laura J. Morrish, 1999) Glenmerry has been the only Kindergarten-to Grade 7 public school in Trail. (Note: when Central School closed in 2000, those pupils were transferred to the elementary school in Warfield.)

To accommodate a growing school body the school district has installed six portables at Glenmerry over the years.

Despite several renovations, there’s been ongoing maintenance issues typical of a well-used structure more than 60 years old. When the school population grew to 370 in 2018, ongoing concerns escalated over parents and buses dropping off and picking up their children at the same time, lack of space and ever increasing traffic congestion.

In March 2018, Glenmerry PAC became a strong and united voice for a new school, alongside many neighbourhood/community advocates, Trail city council, board trustees and SD20 administration.

Three years later, in March 2021, came the provincial announcement that Glenmerry Elementary School would be replaced with a safe new build.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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