My eldest child attended Prince Arthur before the turn of the century (starting in 1999, to be exact), and even way back then, the junior high located in Dartmouth’s Southdale area desperately needed to be replaced.
The school closed it’s doors in June of this year, and work began on the demolition of the old building in advance of the construction of a new school that will be home to the elementary school students presently attending Southdale-North Woodside plus students in Grades 7 to 9 (including French Immersion).
The designs by Duffus Romans Kundzins Rounsefell Architects Ltd. were unveiled at a meeting last night attended by about 50 community members as well as by representatives from the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
The proposed building is anchored by a huge glassed-in cafeteria space that will be shared by both the elementary and junior high students. Classrooms for the two age groups will be in separate wings of the build. The entrance is designed to be “secure” and “welcoming”, and the design of the school was built around ideas of “connectivity”, “collaboration”, and “21st-century learning”.
I was probably most excited to see that the new school will include a Tech Shop which will allow the older students to take hands-on shop classes just as they did at the old Prince Arthur, albeit with safer, more up-to-date equipment. It seems like a wise decision in a time when we’re increasingly telling young people that trades are a satisfying and desirable job option.
The playing field will remain in essentially the same spot, and work is already underway to improve its drainage. There will be separate play areas for the younger and older students and some naturalized outdoor spaces – perhaps even some edible landscaping.
The budget for play structures is very small ($25,000), so a group of citizens has come together with the goal of raising $100,000 to create a durable, multi-use play space. Information on their efforts is available on the Dartmouth South Community Facebook page.
The school features two student drop-off areas. The first, for parents in cars dropping off students, is located off Prince Arthur Avenue. The bus entrance is located off Milverton Road, which has been a source of concern to the residents on this quiet, winding little street.
Demolition on the site is expected to be completed before the end of this year. The tender for the construction will be out in January, with building set to begin in early spring and to be completed for opening in September of 2017.
Photos by Heather Yule