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PECI opens its doors as new K-12 school

Elementary students testing out a new playground area. – PECI photo

Photos and story by Olivia Timm
The first day of school at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute’s newly revamped Grade K-12 facility is in the books.

Parents, guardians and students were welcomed on the first day by staff, board trustees and teachers.

Busing ran smoothly Tuesday morning with 28 buses going through the new loop at the main entrance.

Some students arrived at the new “kiss and drop” area, which was formerly used by the buses. Others were dropped off from the new bus loop created over the summer at the school’s main entrance.

Grades K to 6 students from Queen Elizabeth Public School in Picton are at PECI for the first time. Students from Grades 7 and 8 and from the former Pinecrest School in Bloomfield started at PECI last September. The changes follow the decision by the Hastings and District School Board last spring to consolidate the schools as it faced mounting repairs, declining enrolment and funding.

Elementary teachers Tara Marion and Megan Babcock were pleased to start settling into their new classrooms.

Marion, who is teaching a Grade 1/2 class said the change has been busy, but positive.

“After a busy weekend of preparation in our new rooms, we were all excited to start the 2018/19 school year,” she said. “And our first day went really well. Kids were brought in from buses with relative ease and we got right to work as if we had always been here.”

One of four Junior Kindergarten rooms.

Babcock, who is teaching a Grade 7/8 class, said her students are looking forward to being in a larger school setting.

“It took some team work, but everyone was in their rooms and learning. I know my older students are looking forward to having some extra privileges, such as accessing the cafeteria and a variety of teams,”

Babcock said she feels positive about the experience teaching in PECI. Principal Darren McFarlane, she said has been “fantastic, and flexible.”

“The building is clean and the rooms are beautiful. I think being at the high school will afford us many more opportunities than we could manage being at smaller schools,” she said. “We have a chance to make PECI central to our entire community.”

Principal McFarlane echoed that the transition has been an exciting one.

“We are thrilled with the collective support of our staff and entire school community as we welcomed students to their new County K-12 community school,” he said. “Our students across all ages responded well to the changes and settled into their new school.”

While important, he said bricks and mortar do not define a school.

“Rather, the magic happens through the people and the experiences that are shared together. Work will continue as crews come in after hours to complete outstanding elements of the renovation. We look forward to the finished product and are confident that it will offer fantastic learning spaces for our students to learn, grow and eventually graduate,” he said.

The left wing of the school, which is now the elementary wing, has a temporary wall up to allow renovation for an elevator.

He extended great thanks to the teaching, secretarial and custodial support staff who worked tirelessly throughout the Labour Day holiday weekend to ensure the first day was a success.

“They truly put students first. Without their collective support, it frankly would not have been possible,” he said. “Based on today, we are on track for a fantastic year of learning and exploring the possibilities that await us.”

Office support staff were also busy in the morning registering students and handing out schedules, class lists and maps of the new layout.

Angie Newcombe, a parent of two PECI students, is optimistic the new transition will go smoothly.

Her son Ryan is starting Grade 11 and his younger sister, Ava, is starting Grade six in the French Immersion program.

Newcombe is pleased they are now at the same school and can look out for one another. She also said she feels for the teachers and staff who are making this school year the very best they can.

Where the lecture room used to be is now split into two classrooms. Though this junior kindergarten room has no windows, it has two exits and lots of light.

The other half of the former lecture room.

Renovations to the elementary wing created four kindergarten classrooms, special education rooms (in the former senior cafeteria) and two primary classrooms, and a new accessible washroom. The second floor for elementary classrooms gained new flooring, ceilings, whiteboards and fresh paint jobs. The main gymnasium was upgraded with NBA-standard flooring and there’s a new public address system along with other upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Outside, the Kindergarten and elementary students have separate, fenced playground areas.

Renovation costs, not all related to the consolidation, are expected to be about $3.4 million.

A new Kindergarten washroom

All four kindergarten classrooms can exit to a separate play area.

The main gymnasium, Gym A, was upgraded to have NBA-standard flooring.

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardPECI - It's a Panther Thing

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary – no problem. Onward and upward!

  2. Gary says:

    Sorry Dennis. Thought you were pointing out something I had missed,but confirmed a room for 4 year olds with no windows. I understand the concerns.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    You are the one who asked the question and then brought into question if the windowless classroom ws fact ual or not. I made my point, now it is your turn. BTW – you are welcome.

  4. Gary says:

    Um, what does it say about it other than it has no windows. Make your point.

  5. Dennis Fox says:

    Gary – scroll through the photos in this article and you see and read about this room without windows.

  6. Gary says:

    You mean to tell me that educators put kindergarten kids in a room all day with no window? If this is fact which I assume it is, it brings into question who is making these decisions.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    While I support the concept of a mixed grade school like this one, I have to agree with Liz Driver – no classroom should be windowless – it doesn’t matter what the grade is, no student should placed in the situation of having only artificial light all day. Talk about not being sensitive to kids – but where has the thinking gone? There is endless amounts of research showing the negative impact of what artificial light can do to the learning and behavioural development of children. This is a ridiculous situation and the parents have every right to raise the roof. Seriously, this is not a good thing – sorry for everyone because a lot of work has gone into this first day – but more needs to be done to correct his.

  8. Liz Driver says:

    Every kindergarten classroom should have NATURAL daylight through windows. “Kindergarten” means children’s garden. Young children deserve better than this windowless cell. Shame on the adults who approved this aspect of the building renovation.

    Liz Driver, mother and grandmother

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