Construction begins on Upper Halfway School gymnasium

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Construction has begun on the Upper Halfway School’s new gymnasium and is expected to be finished in fall 2023.

According to a Ministry of Education and Child Care release, the new gymnasium will be accessible and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standards.

This will be achieved through construction materials as well as mechanical and electrical systems that minimize greenhouse gas emissions and utility costs.

This gym will reportedly be a place for the entire community to use and will include a servery (a room or hatch used to serve meals from) to support community gatherings.

“School District 60 is excited by the opportunities the new gym will bring for our students at Upper Halfway and the community in general,” said Helen Gilbert, chair of the Peace River North Board of Education.

“The gym will allow for expanded physical education offerings year round.”

The release says the province is investing as much as $5.7 million in the gym, and the Peace River North School District is contributing an additional $29,000.

In 1960 when the school was originally constructed, there was no gym. Currently, students use the facilities at the nearby Halfway Graham Community Hall.

The release says most students at Upper Halfway are from the Halfway River First Nations Reserve and the Russian and German-speaking communities in the area.

Approximately 65 per cent of students identify as Indigenous and many students are English language learners.

Since September 2017, the Government of B.C. has announced $3 billion for new and upgraded schools as well as land purchases for future schools across the province.

This will include adding almost 20,000 new student spaces and 32,000 seismically safe seats at B.C. schools, according to the release.

The province’s budget for 2022 reportedly includes $3.1 billion for school capital projects over the next three years to make these upgrades.

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