Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Mildred Hall principal Yasemin Heyck stands at the entrance to the renovated school. After two years of construction, the $9 million project should be complete by mid-August.

Final stretch for ol' Millie

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 08/05) - The chaos of two years of construction is coming to an end at Mildred Hall school, as the renovation project enters its final phase this summer.

For principal Yasemin Heyck, the annoyance of shuffling students from one wing to another to make way for each phase of the $9 million project was worth it.

"Everyone is really happy with the way it turned out," she said during a tour of the cream and blue interior, finished with maple wood throughout. The first phase, which involved demolition of the 1970 wing, started in December 2003.

Students moved into the renovated section while the original 1965 wing was overhauled to include new classrooms, a library, student lounge and offices.

'Incredible' room

"The room is going to be incredible. I don't know if we're going to know what to do with it," said Heyck of the open concept design by Ferguson Simek Clark architects.

Dave Johnson, director of facilities and maintenance for Yellowknife Education District No. 1, is now concentrating on phase three.

It includes exterior stucco and landscaping work and refurbishing the old offices, gym and well-known teepee class, all done by Clark Builders.

In his 20 years with the district, Johnson has seen many small renovations in the school, named after the first teacher in the Northwest Territories, but this one is by far the best.

"It's nice and open and roomy. They all seem to like it and it's quite a change," he said.

The project, which was originally slated for completion in January of 2005, should be complete by mid-August, according to Doug Morrison, project officer with the Department of Public Works and Services.

Some of the delays included finding hazardous materials in the building. Stucco work and other projects couldn't be completed in the harsh winter.

The renovation project has produced a spacious and bright school with a capacity of 500 students, but it also brought with it a few changes to the way Mildred Hall is run.

Heyck, who took over as principal just before renovations began, said the mixing of primary and middle school classes will stay.

Sense of community

"There is a nice sense of community when they are mixed together," she says.

Big buddy-little buddy relationships start up naturally and teachers integrate more in the mixed concept, she said.

Enrolment should jump again in the fall, though Heyck figures it will take a couple of years for it to bounce back to the average of 350 students.

Enrolment sat at 245 students this year, with construction discouraging some parents from enroling their kids.

Once the district opens the doors to the shiny school at the Sept. 28 grand opening, Heyck says that number is sure to rise.

"I know that as soon as parents see it, they'll want their kids to go here," she says.