by Rachael Orford
M’CHIGEENG – For the past 50 years, students have walked the same halls of Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) with little or no changes. Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of MSS, the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) decided it was time for a little change of scenery.
The renovations that have already been completed are the cafeteria, library, main office, guidance office, staff room and gymnasium. A three-part room which includes a common room and lounge area for students as well as two student leadership rooms have yet to be completed.
Now that the renovations are well underway, and students are actively seeing the results, the question becomes what do students and staff think of the changes that have been made? Reflecting upon that question, students and staff were given the opportunity to fill out a brief questionnaire online or on paper to give their input on the renovations and how it will affect their school life.
The majority of students that responded said they were happy with the renovations that have been done so far and agree that it was time for an update. Students think that the renovations have made the school a more inviting and inclusive space, while still benefiting their learning.
The students can’t wait for the day that the renovations are complete for a few reasons. They are very excited to experience the new spaces such as the common room and student lounge, but they are also tired of going to school in the middle of a construction zone and having to have visitors see the school in its current state. As stated by one student, “The open ceiling in the front foyer feels like you’re walking into a mine.” Other students expressed concern that half of the hallway is being taken up by the renovations and makes it difficult to move through to get to class. Everyone is excited for the day they can walk through the front doors to the school and have it feel more open and welcoming to everyone.
All students are excited about the new gymnasium floor whether it is for their own use or to show it off to visiting schools. Grade 9 student Lucas Smith says he is “looking forward to the new gym floor because it looks very nice and will increase the efficiency of the players.”
The library, which is now located on the north side of the school, in C corridor, is a popular attraction for students. Some students believe that more people are using the library because of the new furniture and inviting look to it. The new setup of the library provides a fresh and modern space for students to do their school work. Trish Patterson, a Grade 10 student says the library “is a comfortable place to be and get (her) work done.”
One large area that has been redone is the cafeteria. One student thinks that “the cafeteria will be the most useful” of all the areas that have been renovated. However, many students agree that there is not enough seating in the cafeteria for all the students who want to enjoy the space. Recently, raised tables have been added along one wall to maximize seating. Multiple students wish that the colours of the couches and flooring in the cafeteria were different as they clash with the school’s colours that are showcased in the tables and chairs. Although the colour scheme may not be to the students liking, they are very much enjoying the comfort of the couches and the more social space that they create.
The majority of the construction is on track to be completed before the end of the calendar year, but there are still some things that are incomplete and may take some time to finish. One reason that the renovations are taking so long, said technology teacher Mr. Robinson, was that the project manager said that they were having a difficult time trying to find skilled labourers for the renovations. Mr. Robinson stated that “there is a lack of trade workers to perform these types of jobs that need to be done and this is why tech classes are more important now than ever before. There are more jobs for trade workers than there are qualified people to do them, so the market is wide open for trades as a possible career choice and the first step is to take technology courses in high school.”
Many students were wondering why the student body was not consulted about what they would like to see be done to the school before the renovations began. Some students feel that some of the money should have been allocated to updating classrooms that are outdated, new books or other learning materials. Teachers were also concerned about the lack of consultation and improvement to instructional spaces. As stated on some of the questionnaires, “some classrooms are outdated and in poor repair.” However, principal Mr. Mohamed said that classrooms that are in need of an update will be done towards the end of the renovations.
Grade 12 student Amber Wahl says she is “incredibly glad MSS is being redone” as she feels that “the school atmosphere should reflect behaviour they wish upon their students.” She also says that “having money invested into our comfort, well-being and safety encourages learning.”
The updates that MSS is undergoing, whether completed, in progress or slated to be done will make the school a more social and inclusive space that will benefit both students and staff for many years to come.