New Hornby Island school welcomes first students after old building destroyed by arson

After two years of learning in a makeshift collection of portables, students on Hornby Island finally have a new school to call home.

The new Hornby Island Community School was officially put into operation Tuesday morning when students were invited inside the new facility.

"It was fantastic, it was just beautiful," said trustee Sheila McDonnell after the morning welcome.

"I just started tearing up. I was not expecting that at all but, just, this is our beautiful kids," she said.

McDonnell says the students managed well through the two years the school was being built.

Students were taught in a collection of modular portables, two of which will be kept on the school grounds. The rest of the portables have been repurposed elsewhere throughout the district.

McDonnell says Hornby Island was dealt a blow when the previous school was destroyed by arson. But there is a renewed heart of the community, including the return of a full-sized gymnasium.

"Every adult in this community spends time in the community school doing other activities. There's badminton and there's cooking lessons and choir," McDonnell says.

"We have a great building,” she added. “It's just state-of-the-art and it’s safe and it's healthy – the earthquake upgrade – all these sorts of things.”

Much of the building offers students spaces where classrooms can be opened into larger learning areas, plus plenty of outdoor spaces including an outdoor seating area and covered areas for students to work outside.

McDonnell says the community had significant input into the building's design.

"There was a committee that had representatives of different groups and interested individuals and the parents and they met quite often and came up with designs and new designs,” she says.