New high school will enhance learning experience

Wade Istchenko, MLA for Kluane

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, Feb 21st, 2014
by Wade Istchenko, Minister of Highways & Public Works

This week, the Yukon government was pleased to announce that it has signed an intent-to-award letter with Clark Builders for the F.H. Collins Secondary School replacement project.

Clark Builders’ bid was slightly over $31 million. We were pleased with all of the bids on this project as they were very competitive and reflected our understanding of a reasonable replacement cost for the FH Collins Secondary School.

Since the beginning of the re-design process, we have been confident that we could build a world-class facility that meets the current and long-term needs of our school community in a fiscally-responsible manner.

Clark Builders began operating in Yellowknife in 1974 and is experienced with building educational facilities and infrastructure in the north. We look forward to working with them throughout this project.

The company already has several local partners, including Stantec and Arcrite Northern Ltd. Clark Builders is committed to working closely with the local building community and we expect to see many local contractors involved with this project over the next several years. Construction is expected to begin this coming spring and completed in the fall of 2015.

The new F.H. Collins Secondary School is designed to create the most flexible and best possible 21st century learning environment for students. It is based on the design of the Mother Margaret Mary School in Edmonton, Alberta, where learning outcomes are among the very best in Canada.

Using input collected from consultation with students, teachers and the community, we have been able to refine the design to suit Yukon’s needs. The design will enable best practices in team teaching, multidisciplinary courses, and hands-on, project-based learning. Access to technology and the ability to make spaces either smaller or larger when needed will greatly enhance the student learning experience, leading to better outcomes.

The design employs modern efficiencies to accommodate 750 students in a smaller overall footprint. The current F.H. Collins was built for a much larger student population. At one time, it was Yukon’s only high school and is now over-sized for the current student population.

In the new school, students will benefit from an industrial kitchen, enhanced science labs, First Nations language labs, a school-wide wireless network, flexible learning spaces and a dedicated Distance Learning room that will enable students to access out-of-territory programs.

It will also have an Elders’ lounge, Community Education Liaison Coordinator offices, two language classrooms and a separate storage area for First Nations programming. Yukon’s 14 First Nations will be invited to express their culture through artwork on an interior wall that runs the length of the school near the multipurpose space, which will be seen upon entering the front entrance.

We look forward to the completion of this important facility that will meet the needs of F.H. Collins Secondary School communities now and into the future.