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New New Westminster Secondary School set to open in January

The New Westminster school district has just received its occupancy permit for the new school.
The new New Westminster Secondary School is ready to open at last. Students and staff will move in for the new year starting Jan. 4. Photo: contributed.

It’s finally official: The brand-new New Westminster Secondary School will be up and running for January.

The New Westminster school district has just received its occupancy permit for the new school.

“We’re so excited to share this long-anticipated news,” said superintendent Karim Hachlaf. “The new school is going to offer so many new opportunities for students, staff and really the whole community … with new arts and maker-spaces that will allow us to lead into the future, innovative classroom designs to enable more collaboration and creativity in learning, and two neighbourhood learning centres that will support welcoming and wellness initiatives for students and other community members in New Westminster.”

The new $106.5-million facility was intended to be ready for this past September, but COVID-19-related delays – including workforce reductions and supply-chain issues – caused a number of setbacks along the way.

With the occupancy permit at last achieved, staff and students will begin moving in to the new building in the week of Jan. 4.

“The first week back in January is going to be an orientation week, where we’ll shift all students over to a few days of remote learning,” Hachlaf said. “This will enable us to make sure that there’s appropriate time to safely stage our entry and orientation opportunities for both staff and students alike.”

Hachlaf said the district will now engage the wider school community in the process of getting ready for the move.

“That includes giving our staff time to pack their personal items, classrooms and offices for the movers. And this also gives our teachers time to start planning for any modifications they might need to make to lesson plans to cover January’s orientation week - lessons organized in a way that will also allow staff time to settle and set up their new spaces,” he said.

New Westminster MLA and newly named B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, in an interview with the Record Monday morning (just hours before the occupancy permit was announced), noted that the NWSS project was the largest capital project of its kind in the province.

As an alumna herself – she spent a few years of her own high school days at the old NWSS – Whiteside said the opening of the new school is a “very exciting” way to start her tenure in the Education Ministry.

“I am absolutely thrilled about the imminent opening of the new school,” she said. “I think that New Westminster students are really going to benefit from the state-of-the-art new high school.”

Parents will be receiving an official announcement letter from the district shortly.

More details are still to come soon, including an orientation schedule for students and staff and an opening ceremony date.