The official start of the school year is days away, and for some Langford students, that means being the first to attend the new PEXSISEN Elementary School.
The new school on Constellation Avenue was shown off by the district Friday (Sept. 2) as staff and contractors rushed to put the finishing touches on the building before nearly 500 students walk through its doors on Sept. 6.
“I’m excited and I’m honoured,” principal Karen Decicco said following the tour. “I’m honoured to be part of the amazing team I am working with and excited to be a part of this place where children will come to learn and grow.”
Decicco said there is a noticeable energy in the air surrounding the school as staff and soon students feel the excitement of being in a new build, especially one so carefully designed based on extensive consultation with teachers and other educators.
“There is a lot of natural light, neutral and calm colour tones, shared spaces, lots of glass, and community spaces where kids can interact with each other. It’s quite beautiful.”
The building itself is state-of-the-art, both in its physical features and in its operating concept. Split into two wings, the building has windows everywhere, natural wood elements, and wide halls to make getting around a breeze.
Classrooms on the ground floor all have their own exits leading to outdoor play areas – which include a field, basketball court, garden boxes, and a sand pit – while those on the second floor feature views of those same play areas. Classroom entrances on both floors open into communal activity spaces, while the rooms themselves feature adjustable lighting colour temperature to help encourage calm or energetic moods as needed, as well as individually adjustable temperature controls.
Heating and cooling for the building is designed to be as efficient as possible, with ground-based heat pumps built under the field.
“We are really excited to be in a school district which is growing,” said Ravi Parmar, district board chair. “Opening new schools like PEXSISEN and soon Centre Mountain Lellum (Middle School), it’s obviously really good news for our community.”
But while new schools are being opened – Centre Mountain, located next to PEXSISEN, has had its opening delayed to November due to supply shortages – Parmar said even more school capacity is needed in the district, with an expected 600 new students expected to join the district this year, and a record 800 joining over last school year.
Parmar said it has been a challenge for SD62 to keep up with the influx of new students, but they are hopeful the province will step up with more funding for more expansion.
“Thankfully in schools like PEXSISEN we have some extra room for a year or two, but the school is going to be jam-packed,” he said. “We will be looking to open South Langford Elementary School in 2025, and our board has been really pushing government to build more schools.”