Whistler Waldorf School cut the ribbon to its four new state-of-the-art portable classrooms Friday (Sept. 27), marking the end of an innovative build both on time and under budget.
The units at the private school have been in use since the start of the school year, but officials waited for the day of Michaelmas before inviting parents and Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden for the official ceremony.
“We tied it with Michaelmas for a reason,” said school principal Aegir Morgan. “We wanted to celebrate our capacity to create things, to show what human beings can do when they put their minds to it—on a municipal level, faculty level, with parent and student involvement and of course volunteers.”
Waldorf schools around the world observe Michaelmas, named after Saint Michael, as a festive occasion to improve their school grounds in some capacity that instills initiative. But this year in Whistler, with the new classrooms broken in, landscaping complete and green grass coming up around the site, it was a day of celebration for a job well done.
The occasion was marked with two violin pieces performed by a selection of string players from Grades 7 through 10.
Morgan noted in his speech, prior to cutting the ribbon with the mayor and four of the school children, that parents had raised $60,000 between March and June this year for the project.
The new classrooms obviously offer the 170 children more space for daily classes, but also more light and more air circulation.
The classrooms were built with an eco-friendly and innovative design of architect Peter Buchanan of Vancouver’s Shift Architecture. Using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS), the new green technology drastically reduces energy use and construction.
“They are purpose-built classrooms that give the children space to breath,” Morgan said. “Until now we’ve been modifying, adapting to the rooms we had available.
“We are more than satisfied with the results. The team that built it was very professional and very hard working. We had to get it done for the opening of school, so there was a very tight deadline we had to stick to, and they did it. We’re very, very grateful.”
Because Waldorf is planning a move to their new home at Wedgewood in 2015, the classrooms needed to be easily disassembled for transportability. Therefore, each classroom is made up of two pods, each containing its own timberwork and support structure that can be split in half. It’s a design model school officials want to use again with future construction at Waldorf’s new location.
The project is a part of Waldorf’s ambitious plans to build an additional 12,000 sq. ft. in 2015 and 10,000 more in 2017 at the school’s new site. Whistler Waldorf will also add one high school grade per year until every level from preschool to Grade 12 is represented in 2015.
With files from Brandon Barrett