Walls are set to begin rising soon on a $1.2-million addition to the Sarnia Christian School.
Len Smit, principal of the private elementary school on the corner of Pontiac Drive and Exmouth Street, said construction began over the summer, following demolition of a section of the school building, dating back to the late 1950s, that held a library, staff room, resource room and storage space.
The first major upgrading at the school in approximately 30 years will add specialty classrooms, individual and small-group learning spaces, a common area and new main entrance.
"The hydro, plumbing, footings and the floor are ready, so hopefully the walls will start next week," Smit said.
That's also when approximately 120 students are scheduled to return to class at the school, but construction isn't expected to disrupt them.
"We are a little tight on space, but everything should work fine," Smit said.
A support wall that is insulated and covered on the inside dividing the section of the school where student are learning from the area under construction.
"So, we're all good to go," Smit said.
"We're just excited for another school year to start, and there's a lot of positive things happening here."
It's anticipated the project will be finished by late winter, or early spring, Smit added.
"The first thing they want to do is get it closed in before winter, and then they'll work on the inside," he said.
"It's exciting. It has been about five years of planning to get to this point."
Students and parents joined school officials at the end of the school year in June for a ground-breaking ceremony.
Smit has said the addition is designed for "21st-century learning," with spaces where students can work collaboratively in small groups, or quietly on their own.
It will also include a fine arts room, science room and band room.
"We're building the spaces to provide the type of learning that we wanted to have," Smit said.
There is still approximately $250,000 to be raised for the project.
Because private schools aren't funded by the provincial government, the school has been fundraising.
"We're going to ramp that up again, as soon as school starts," Smit said.
Students and their families gathered on the front lawn of Sarnia Christian School Friday morning to break ground on a $1.2-million addition.
The private Christian elementary school announced in February it was planning the construction project for the corner of Pontiac and Exmouth streets.
"We're still working with the city to get our permits and site plans all in place," said principal Len Smit.
"We're hoping to start in July with the demolition, and then the reconstruction."
The work, expected to be completed in March, will be the first major upgrading at the school in approximately 30 years.
The school that had 130 students this year has been operating for 60 years, and a section of the building set to be demolished dates back to the late 1950s.
"When it rains, we kind of worry how much water is going to come in," Smit said. "So, it's time."
That section of the school holds a library, staff room, resource room and storage space.
The larger addition set to replace it will have specialty classrooms designed to fit today's approach to education, including a fine arts classroom, a science room, band room, along with individual and small-group learning spaces, a common area, and a new main entrance.
Friday's ground-breaking follows several years of planning by school officials.
The way schools were designed in the 1950s doesn't always fit the way education happens today, Smit said.
"Our re-designed building has spaces for 21st-century learning," he added.
That includes providing spaces where students can work collaboratively in small groups, or quietly on their own, he said.
Construction will continue into the new school year, but isn't expected to create problems for students or staff, Smit said.
Because the school won't have a library during construction, the plan is to bus classes to the public library, he said.
So far, more than 75% of the money needed for the project has been collected by fundraisers.
Christian schools like Sarnia's aren't funded by the provincial government in Ontario, Smit noted during the ground-breaking ceremony.