Staff, students eye new Oak Bay High taking shape

While class is officially out for the summer, plenty of work is still going on at Oak Bay High

John Scheeren stands in front of the new Oak Bay High building. The project manager with Farmer Construction graduated from Oak Bay High himself in 1975.

John Scheeren stands in front of the new Oak Bay High building. The project manager with Farmer Construction graduated from Oak Bay High himself in 1975.

While class is officially out for the summer, plenty of work is still going on at Oak Bay High.

“They’re deconstructing the east building right now. It’s staged, depending on what they need to do. That area has to be done very quickly because it’s impacting all of the main power supply lines,” said Oak Bay High principal Dave Thomson.

The new $55-million, 151,000-square-foot school is set to open in September. With up to 150 workers on site during the busiest period, that number is now down to about 60.

John Scheeren, project manager with Farmer Construction Ltd., expects to have all the work complete by April 2016.

“We’re building a tremendous building here and we’re really proud of that,” said Scheeren, who expects to have the old school buildings down by late September or early October. Crews are currently salvaging some of the heritage aspects from the old buildings.

“We do respect the heritage aspect of the old school so we really want to retain that,” said Scheeren, himself a 1975 Oak Bay High grad.

“There are people that hate to see these heritage buildings come down, but that building was done. You should see what we’re running into as we do the demo – I mean if this building ever suffered an earthquake it would kill every kid in the classroom.”

He said they have now received the occupancy permit for the new school buildings, which will allow school administration to begin setting up for the coming school year.

Thomson said staff and students all cast a glance over their shoulders at the old buildings as they left the school after the final bell sounded for the school year.

“I think that there’s kind of a sad, bit of a melancholy acceptance, [along with an] excitement about the new building,” he said.

“I think all of us at some point along the way have walked out of the doors and said, ‘Wow, it’s sad.’ Each one of us has shed a tear in our own way.”

Thomson said staff has been busy for quite some time preparing for the move, adding it was a fair amount of work to remove all the items that teachers have accumulated over the years.

“The building itself has not aged very well over the last couple of years. There’s recognition of the fact that now all of the warts are really visible. Of course, as you remove things from the walls and furniture starts to leave it becomes more and more evident why it was necessary to replace the building.

The sadness of turning a page on the original 1929 building is tempered by the work that still lies ahead.

“We’re excited to be getting a new building but we also know that we’re not finished yet. As the buildings come down, there’s two fields that have to be constructed, there’s a lot of heavy equipment going to be operating at least for another six or eight months.”

But when the work finally wraps up, the state-of-the-art new school will more than make up for the long wait and steady disruptions.

“The constant message from my staff, the students who have had the opportunity to go in and the visitors who come, it’s jaw-droppingly spectacular,” Thomson said.

He said he’s given a few tours to some of the teachers that have been recently assigned to the school.

“Literally, their jaws do drop and they kind of walk around with a glazed look, saying ‘Is this for real?’ I think that’s why it’s so exciting, it’s because it is a very, very spectacular high school building.”



Just Posted

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

Police are asking opponents of logging near Port Renfrew not to involve their children following additional arrests Saturday. (Black Press Media File)
Police arrest eight protesters including two minors near Port Renfrew Saturday

RCMP ask parents not to involve their children in Fairy Creek logging protests

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read