The Nanaimo school district will showcase $24.5 million in seismic upgrades to Wellington Secondary School at an open house Tuesday (May 31).
The district and B.C. government entered into a project agreement in February 2013 as part of the province’s seismic mitigation program, which aims to reduce risk of collapse in an earthquake.
The province provided approximately $23 million and the district contributed the remainder.
As part of upgrades, a wing of the school was expanded, sections of wall and roof were demolished and a new entrance, facing Departure Bay Road, was built.
Chad Lintott, Wellington principal, said the old building had a “concrete gull-wing roof,” which would not be stable in a seismic event.
“Throughout the building we’ve got some exo-skeleton (X-shaped metal) that has been provided, so if you look at the exterior of the building we’ve got a lot of these as well. It allows for some movement, but maintains that rigidity of the building also,” Lintott said.
The school also has been equipped with an earthquake response system. Lintott said it ties into a program with the University of B.C.
There are sensors in the building and on the field that notifies the school with a pre-recorded announcement, he said.
“It detects the wave of motion and then that sets off the internal alarm system at UBC, which then provides that to us to know to evacuate the building,” said Lintott.
In addition to reinforced walls, the upgrades allow for the incorporation of 21st-century learning concepts, including flexible spaces and natural light.
Lintott said there are areas not defined by walls and old classroom structures. He pointed to a large room, called the presentation space, which serves a number of different functions.
“While this is a multi-use area for different types of learning, rather than a stand-deliver, one teacher, 30 students model, 50 students can be in here, or eight students can be in here. You’ll notice that rooms are tied together, so when these doors come up, it ties us into a computer lab on [one] side.
“Every one of our rooms that have been built within this interior have got what we call meeting rooms or breakout rooms, student rooms that can be used for smaller groups,” said Lintott.
He said the school district no longer wants the one teacher-30 students model.
The open house runs from 6-8 p.m., with the school open for viewing from 6-6:45 p.m., followed by speeches, ribbon cutting and cake.