By JENNIFER WHITESIDE
Minister of Education
WHEN PARKCREST ELEMENTARY in Kamloops was destroyed in a fire in the fall of 2019, students and families were left heartbroken, and many people in the community who had attended Parkcrest felt the loss of years of memories.
Just as students and staff were adjusting to temporarily learning in a new building, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, creating even more challenges. As Minister of Education, I applaud the work that teachers and staff have done to engage, support and guide students through an unexpectedly challenging year. And I applaud the students and parents of Parkcrest who have shown incredible resiliency and community spirit.
Schools are at the centre of our neighbourhoods and our communities. In addition to helping our kids learn and prepare for their future, schools are also places for families to gather, connect with their neighbours, participate in sports and cultural extracurricular activities and strengthen community ties.
Last week, I was pleased to announce that a new, expanded Parkcrest Elementary is on the way for the Brocklehurst community. Construction is set to begin in summer 2022, and the school is expected to be open in September, 2024.
The new school will be designed with the community in mind. It will have space for 120 additional students – for a total of 510 seats – to accommodate the growth in the surrounding area and projected future enrolment.
Thanks to an investment from the City of Kamloops, the school will include a full-size gymnasium and changerooms that will be available for local groups and sports leagues to book after school hours.
And the new building will also have a neighbourhood learning centre for community events and learning opportunities. The new school will be a bright, modern space where wonderful new memories will be made.
We all want our kids to have everything they need to succeed. Investing in schools like Parkcrest and the addition at Valleyview Secondary are part of our government’s commitment to giving students the best start possible.
Over the past three years, we’ve invested more than $2 billion in new schools, expansions and seismic safety upgrades, and we’ve built more than 141 new playgrounds. And we are going to keep investing in our kids to give them the opportunities they deserve.
The adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is proven true in the amazing work done in our local schools. Teachers, educational assistants and staff play a vital role in our kids’ learning, growth and physical and mental well-being. And parents and families find support and friendship by connecting with each other at drop-off, pick-up, sports practice and concerts.
The Parkcrest community has been through a lot and I know that there is still much more work to be done before the new school is complete.
When the doors are opened on the new Parkcrest Elementary, the entire community will have a big reason to celebrate, and a beautiful new space in which to learn, play and grow.
Jennifer Whiteside was elected MLA for New Westminster in 2020 and is the Minister of Education.