Behind its iconic curtain of trees, Queen Margaret’s School has been quietly adding to its hand in recent years, bringing online a series of beautiful buildings aimed at dealing with the school’s expanding population.
The school held an open house at its new Learning Centre Feb. 19 and Rebecca McKay served as an enthusiastic guide.
"We need this building," she said. "Our primary centre has been full for the past two years and that’s destined to come into our intermediate grades here. Intermediate for us is Grades 4-7 and a Grade 7-8 boys high school preparation program. We are co-ed at the junior school level. We have a boys only program for Grades 7-8 and we have an all-girls high school.
"Plus we have these wonderful commons areas, a new library, a new learning resource centre, board room space, WIFI, an elevator and technology space for the students in these grades. It’s also used by the big kids but it just gives us more space," McKay said.
The building has been added without ruining the treed ambience that Queen Margaret’s is famous for.
"We’ve been very, very careful because we love our campus. Our science and technology is a green building and we’ve kept that sensitivity here because we are so lucky to have our beautiful trees," she said.
Upstairs, the classrooms all offer views of the campus’s trees. And from there it can be seen that the school will also now be able to enlarge its soccer field to regulation size.
"That means we’ll be able to host tournaments," McKay said.
But back to the classrooms in the Learning Centre.
The film studio is also the classroom to house the boys in the Grade 7-8 program.
"This is for young boys who are just at that age where they are getting ready for high school but need more time to prepare with time management, project orientation – life skills," she said. Aiming a program at one sex is not a new idea at Queen
Margaret’s so the success of this one was not unexpected, according to McKay.
Each of the rooms upstairs is aimed at suiting its grade level so the Grade 4 classroom is obviously more cozy than one set up for older students.
"This building is built to be expandable. This is an evolving school. Over time we’ll also be adding a fine arts centre. As funding emerges, it will happen," she said.
"We don’t aspire to be a big school, but we do aspire to be a really good quality one: the academic choice. We offer university preparedness from junior school all the way through."
Downstairs again, head school Wilma Jamieson was ready to welcome visitors but took a moment out to show us the library, one of her special requests.
"I love this space. Children love books," she said.
Looking around at the new centre, she added, "We’ve kept the beauty of Queen Margaret’s; people love it here. It’s very warm and welcoming.
"We started classes Jan. 6 right after the Christmas break and the kids just love this space," Jamieson said, adding that it’s been good at bringing people together.
"They’re really connecting with each other and the teachers feel more connected too. It’s a great environment. The open space is welcoming and offers a chance to have a conversation, do some work. It works for parents, students and community members, too."