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Trustees choose three names for new school

Staff families vote on choices
Kyle Wells

Three finalists have been selected in the hunt for a name for the new school to be built at Gordon Park, replacing Grief Point Elementary School.

Drawing from a list of about 50 suggestions, the Powell River Board of Education has picked Robert Thirsk Elementary, Salish Sea Elementary and Westview Elementary schools as the final three possible names for the new school. By the end of the month staff and families will have the chance to vote on what name they like best. The winning name will go back to the board before being accepted.

School District 47 Superintendent of Schools Jay Yule said that the board took around 20 of the names submitted very seriously. He’s hoping the public will weigh in on the three finalists and if there are any comments, concerns or further suggestions it is not too late to come forward. The goal is to please as many people as possible and Yule isn’t picky as to how that plays out.

The name Robert Thirsk Elementary is a tribute to the Canadian astronaut who got his start at Grief Point Elementary and now holds Canadian records for longest space flight and most time spent in space. Thirsk has visited the community and school in the time since he was a student here and has made “significant connections and educational contributions to the students of Grief Point,” according to a press release from the district.

The Salish Sea name celebrates the view that the school will have over the ocean. Salish Sea is an official name approved by Canada in 2010 for the waters off the west coast of North America, extending from Desolation Sound to the Budd Inlet and incorporating the Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. “This name will recognize our local saltwater as a vital resource and will honour the historical use of these waters by the aboriginal people of the area,” reads the release.

Westview Elementary honours the area where the school will be found and where most of the students who attend the school will come from. An original Westview School operated from 1927 to 1950 before being destroyed by fire.

The board is also moving closer in its selection of a design for the new school. Since last November the school district project team has been assessing the final three proposals and are now negotiating with the highest-ranked design-build team. Steve Hopkins, school district secretary treasurer, in a report to the board, said that negotiations should be concluded by the end of the month and that the design will be unveiled at an open house.

Details coming out now state that the new school with 12 regular classrooms, four kindergarten and prekindergarten classrooms will be constructed on the southern portion of Gordon Park, with a full size sports field on the northern portion. The new school will incorporate sustainable design and construction practices and is expected to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, its second highest rating.

Construction is expected to start in April and be completed by early summer 2012.

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