On Jan. 11 the last students at Lytton Elementary School moved to the newly-renovated Kumsheen Secondary School, where work on converting the school to a K–12 facility has been underway for 18 months.
Lytton is the third community in School District No. 74 (SD74) to go from having separate elementary and secondary schools to having a single K–12 facility. In 2010 Clinton Elementary closed and David Stoddart became a K–12 school, followed by the closure of Ashcroft Elementary in 2015 and the conversion of Ashcroft Secondary into Desert Sands Community School.
Kumsheen school now houses 125 students, and has undergone extensive renovations and upgrades in order to accommodate all students and improve safety, access, and aesthetics. Work started on the lower level of the school in 2019, with students and staff occupying the main floor, then switched to the main floor in 2020.
“It really is a transformation. It’s amazing and it’s beautiful,” said Lynda Minnabarriet, secretary-treasurer for SD74. “It’s been a long time coming but we believe it will be a much-improved situation.”
At the board of education meeting on Jan. 5, she noted that a new exterior window wall on both floors has had a lot of positive comment. “It was very dark [inside], and now there is a view and light.” Skylights have been added to a common area within the school, and the office has been opened up. Security gates at the office and near the library provide additional security, and mean that classrooms are not accessible when the school is open for extra-curricular activities, although users will still have access to the washrooms.
One classroom with no windows that was very dark has had solar tubes installed to provide more light. Washrooms have been upgraded and now include gender neutral facilities, and new built-in hallway seating has been added, complete with plug-ins so people can use electronic equipment or charge devices.
New fencing has been installed around the property, and there is a new drop-off point for buses. Front and rear entrance canopies have been added, with the rear canopy (similar to the one outside Desert Sands School) large enough to accommodate outdoor gatherings. Additional parking spaces have been added on a spot previously occupied by a disused concrete pad, and there is a new all-ages playground, as well as a new basketball court with seating for spectators.
“Basketball is very important to students and the community,” said Minnabarriet. “It has been used a lot since it opened in September 2020.”
The board of education is now considering submissions regarding a new school name. The School Naming committee has been reviewing all submissions, and will be presenting up to four recommendations to the board at the next regular meeting on Feb. 2.
The Nzen’man’ Child and Family Development Centre Society is currently using Lytton Elementary School to provide community child care and family programs, and SD74 is working with them to enter into a yearly lease for the school beginning in March 2021.
Due to COVID-19, SD74 says it is not possible to have a gathering to commemorate the successful completion of work at Kumsheen at this time. However, the board is looking forward to being able to gather to celebrate the opening of the new school and recognize Lytton Elementary at a future date.