Twelve years ago, Ecole Descrocher’s teachers and students were crammed into a tiny space in the Jasper Jr./Sr. High School. A bookshelf partitioned the K-1 class and those in Grades 2-3. The Grade 4-6 students were close by and equally cramped.
“If you wanted to have an art class you’d have to make sure the other grades weren’t doing math,” remembers French teacher Marie-Claude Faucher.
Today, those tight quarters are a distant memory. Faucher’s footsteps echo down the bright, wide hallway which leads to her new classroom in the new joint-school facility. New desks, SMART boards and furniture adorn the spaces. She walks by yet-to-be unpacked boxes of supplies, a yet-to-be visited water cooler, a yet-to-be filled trophy case. All the while, she’s pointing out the building’s potential.
“There’s so much space here,” she beams. “We’ve come such a long way.”
Down in the gymnasium, the sense of space is almost overwhelming. There, Jasper Jr./Sr. High School teachers Fred Kreiner and Chuck Barker are envisioning how tournaments will be run, how the bleachers will be situated and where their whiteboards will hang. There is a palpable buzz in the air.
“There’s a new energy in here,” Barker said. “I could feel it as soon as I walked in the door.”
Down the hall, closer to the Pyramid Lake Road entrance, teacher Leslie Currie is riding the high of anticipation, each hour making strides towards being ready to go September 2. Currie, who grew up in Jasper and attended the former school before landing a teaching job there, thinks the new facility will be inspiring for students.
“I think it shows we have high expectations of kids and of ourselves,” she said.
Next door, Paulette Dubé’s humanities and french immersion classroom look ready for action. She purposely turned the desks to face the windows. One of her many teaching tools, a skeleton named Sphenoidal, has a new mission this year: attain a deeper understanding.
“We’ve got the surface knowledge now. By the end of the year we’ll be going for the deep stuff,” she says.
Upstairs, Jasper Jr./Sr. High School physics teacher Geoff Fraser is scratching notes down at his desk. With a view of Roche Bonhomme out of his classroom’s vast windows, he’s coming to terms with how fortunate he is to be in a brand new facility.
“It’s a novelty that not many teachers will see in their careers,” he says, showing off a water fountain that will tell students how many plastic bottles they save with each fill of a reusable container. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Even more amazing, however, is the potential collaboration with the french school. After exchanging a laugh with his École Desrocher colleague, math teacher Jocelyn Nadeau, Fraser says he’s most excited about what partnerships with the French school will harbour.
“The potential partnerships is the coolest part, to be honest,” he said. “We’ve got a good team of people on both staffs that will make an effort to work together. It hasn’t been that way in 10 years.”
Ecolé Desrochers principal Hélène Gendron had similar sentiments.
“The building has been built on a handshake,” she said. “One arm is French, one is English. And there are a lot of shared spaces in the middle where all of the students will benefit.”