While its former students pack into Ponoka Elementary School, construction workers are day-by-day changing the old Diamond Willow Middle School (DWMS) building.
The interior of the building is almost completely gutted and while there is some semblance of hallways, its look is supposed to be completely different. Construction is anticipated to be completed in the early summer, said Joe Henderson, secretary treasurer with the Wolf Creek School Division.
Demolition started early in the fall and much of the east side of the building has been emptied. “The old mechanical system on the west side has been totally dismantled.”
While this occurs, the gym at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) is undergoing a complete renovation. So PSC students are using the DWMS gym for now. The timelines are tight for elementary school students; the goal is to have them move in next school year.
“Next year when people start school, our projects should be complete,” said Henderson.
There will be similar design concepts at the new elementary school as in PSC.
“Once the elementary school is relocated then we have to relocate the Outreach School from its current location,” he added.
Students at the Outreach School will call the brick building their new home once upgrades are done to it. “We might have a temporary accommodation of the Outreach at the elementary building, but that will be a temporary stage.”
Construction crews are dealing with challenges that come along, but crews and planners have regular site meetings to deal with them. And there can be challenges with modernizing an older building.
“There’s four layers of flooring in there,” Henderson said.
These may affect the school’s final construction date schedule but he said he hoped it was manageable.
The future of the current elementary school building is in question.
“We don’t have a useful purpose for it. Buildings deteriorate very quickly when there’s no life in them,” explained Henderson.
No decision has been made so far for the building.
For the rest of the construction at DWMS, Henderson feels there is benefit for construction crews working without students in the building. They do not have to worry about a student population while major renovations are happening. “It’s an exciting time. The building will be significantly different when it opens again.”
The façade will look similar but the inside the school will “be a much changed environment.”