Three Oaks High School reopens after multi-million dollar renovation

Three Oaks High School in Summerside reopened Wednesday.

'We have a state of the art facility that will last for years in the Summerside community'

More than 70 energy efficient windows were added to increase natural lighting and solar heat gain. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Three Oaks High School in Summerside reopened Wednesday after more than two years of renovations.

Construction on the 160,000 square foot school had been underway since the summer of 2016 and cost $23 million. 

The province said this is the first major upgrade of the school since it opened in 1976 to replace Summerside High School.

This is the first major upgrade of the school since it opened in 1976. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Jeff Clow, the principal of Three Oaks High School, said it was an exciting day.

"We have a lot more space that we can access, a lot more collaboration among classes on similar projects, so response from staff has been wonderful."

Bright, open space

He said the brightness and openness of the space is getting positive feedback from students. 

"In the end, we have a state of the art facility that will last for years in the Summerside community and will be accessed for years by many in the community, not only students but other groups that are in the school." 

Existing spaces such as the kitchen received extensive upgrades. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

During the construction phase, parents of students raised concerns over air quality multiple times. Students still went to classes throughout the renovations and many parents said their kids reported symptoms such as breathing problems, nausea and headaches they believed were caused by the construction.

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office concluded there were no significant health risks to students during the work after an independent review was conducted because of concerns from parents and the release of air quality tests from March of 2017.

Lots of new features

Renovations include new features such as science labs, a blackbox theatre, an outdoor running track and independent study areas. 

Tyler Richardson, the manager of building design and construction with the province, said the curriculum spaces are all improved. 

"The library is exquisite with new mill work and lighting arrangement and layout. So there's numerous areas we're pleased about, the labs are unbelievable, biology and chemistry and physics labs are all tremendous — inclusive education spaces as well."

Thirty one classrooms and hallways were expanded and windows were added to improve ventilation and bring in more natural light.

The music room was one of the spaces that was renovated. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The province said the school is heated by biomass and is the first Island school to use propane as a back-up rather than oil.

More than 70 energy-efficient windows were installed, as well as LED lighting and roofing with high insulation values to make the structure energy efficient. 

Richardson said he hopes students are ecstatic when they walk into the brand new space. 

"We've created these wonderful gathering areas too with the high stools in the corridors ... even windows in the corridors and benches where the kids can gather and discuss things between classes, we just hope they appreciate the effort."

The school serves 700 students in Summerside and the surrounding communities. 

More P.E.I. news