Were just very grateful: District finds new home for Kamloops students after school fire – CBC.ca

\We\re just very grateful\: District finds new home for Kamloops students after school fire - CBC.ca
Space found for Kamloops students after elementary school destroyed by fire
After a devastating fire burned down Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops last Thursday, officials announced the 350 students along with staff at the school will continue the school year at the nearby George Hilliard Elementary School starting on Sept. 16. 

George Hilliard stopped operating as an elementary school a few years ago but is home to the Twin Rivers Education Centre, an alternative education program, and Four Directions Secondary School, a program which teaches students about Indigenous culture and education.

District Superintendent Alison Sidow says Parkcrest elementary students and staff will spend the rest of this school year, and likely next year, at the former George Hilliard elementary, which is smaller and may require one or two portables to make room for all the classes.

Both have been given new locations in the community, said school district superintendent Alison Sidow.

Board officials hope to have Parkcrest students and the affected secondary-school programs resettled by next Monday, but parents of Parkcrest students have been told to find alternate care for their children until then.

New space found for Kamloops, B.C., students displaced by destructive fire

"We're just very grateful and thankful to our community for all the support that they have lent us during this tragic event," she said.

Hilliard, which is about 1.5 kilometres from Parkcrest, was shuttered as an elementary school several years ago, but has been housing the Twin Rivers Education Centre and Four Directions secondary since then.

"When you pull together and when you show courage and compassion for one another it's amazing what you can pull off in 72 hours."

Sidow expects that it will take about two years to rebuild Parkcrest, and said she has heard a commitment from both the minister and deputy minister of education that this will be a priority in the province.

"We're going to rebuild Parkcrest Elementary School, and that school will be bigger and better than ever."

Ms. Sidow says the centre and secondary school, which both offer alternate education programs, will be moved to other locations within the district.

Parents of students at Parkcrest are relieved that their kids will be staying together in one building, said school board chair Kathleen Karpuk.

"Overall, parents were just extremely happy that all the students are together. They're within the neighborhood of Brocklehurst, so the kids aren't going to be going very far," said Karpuk.

Officials in Kamloops, B.C., have found a new home for about 350 students whose elementary school was destroyed by fire last week.

"Generally [it's been an] extremely, extremely positive response from the Parkcrest parents about that move, understanding that we're going to have hiccups because we don't have quite enough space."

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NorKam Secondary will need 12 portables to accommodate the students from Twin Rivers Education Centre that are moving there, and students with Four Directions Secondary School will be going to the former Happyvale Elementary school building.

The Big Little Science Centre that is currently housed at Happyvale is actively looking for a new location, said Karpuk.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, and Kamloops Fire Rescue is still working to put out spot fires in the building.

Parkcrest, which was built in the '60s, had an alarm but no sprinklers. A teacher and two custodial workers who were inside when the fire broke out last Thursday all escaped safely.

"It may take some time, and those guys will be working very hard to determine the cause," assistant fire chief Steve Robinson told Daybreak Kamloops' Jenifer Norwell.

"Some of our people have kids that go to that school, so we at Kamloops Fire Rescue feel the loss as well as people in the community."

Most of the desks and school supplies were lost in the fire. Karpuk said they are working to source new equipment as fast as they can. 

More than 15 organizations have offered services to help displaced students and staff. The Kamloops Art Gallery is providing free day camps for kids, Tumbleweed Toys has created a Parkcrest teacher registry to help teachers who lost supplies, and The New Heights Autism Support Society is offering daycare for children with behaviour challenges. 

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Students gather to view the aftermath of the fire that destroyed Parkcrest Elementary School in Kamloops on Sept. 6, 2019.

Students who were displaced from their elementary school after a massive fire burned it to the ground will have space in a different school by next Monday.

On Sept. 5, Parkcrest Elemantary School caught fire and was completely destroyed, forcing 350 students to plan for more than a week out of class. 

The school district met with staff, parents and guardians of students on Monday to reveal the recovery plan, which will include moving everyone from Parkcrest to George Hilliard Elementary by Sept. 16.

"Things are moving fast, because we know the importance of getting the children back into their normal routine as soon as possible," said the districts superintendent, Alison Sidow. 

"This is a solid, workable plan that meets our key priorities, particularly in that it ensures the emotional safety and security and continuity of education of our youngest learners."

Also in the recovery plan is the relocation of the Big Little Science Centre, in order to make room for students and staff of Four Directions, which is an alternate learning environment for secondary students of Aboriginal ancestry. Twin Rivers Education Centre students and staff will move to NorKam. 

Moving Four Directions and Twin Rivers Education Centre, which normally operate out of George Hilliard, will open up the space necessary to absorb Parkcrest students. 

"The well-being of all our learners is a priority. And we appreciate that all parent groups and staff we spoke with understand that difficult choices have to be made," Sidow said. 

"In the long term, we look forward to replacing Parkcrest Elementary, which will enable our alternate programs to return to their own site."

While no students or staff were hurt in the blaze that broke out at 5 p.m. last Thursday, a class pet did not survive.

One of the teachers, Mr. Roszmann, had a pet bunny named Thumper and it was in there during the fire, said Grade 5 student Jordan Pearce.

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