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Douglas Elementary has now opened its doors, making it the newest elementary school in the Surrey School District.
“This is such an exciting time for the Douglas Elementary School community,” said Surrey Board of Education Chair Laurie Larsen. “The Surrey School District is the largest and fastest growing district in the province, and we have experienced rapid growth in the South Surrey area. This new school will allow our district to accommodate some of this growth and provide our students with a state-of the-art facility where they can continue to learn and develop.”
On December 1, students from Hall’s Prairie Elementary and Montessori and students from Sunnyside Elementary made their way to their new classrooms at Douglas, taking in the brand new gymnasium, library and gravel field at the South Surrey school. The Ministry of Education provided $26 million in funding for the new school, including the building, furniture, landscaping and playground.
“Things ran like clockwork here on moving day,” said Principal Sundeep Chohan. “The staff have done such a great job – they introduced their students to their new school before we even moved in through videos, maps, images and routines. And now that everyone is here, it’s like an early Christmas present. We have an amazing new space to learn and work.”
The new school features 25 classrooms, a spacious gym, maker lab, multipurpose room, project spaces and a large all-weather field, as well as outdoor play areas and a basketball court.
To celebrate the new school, the staff successfully planned Wings Around Douglas, an outdoor activity that involved all 355 students at the school standing six feet apart from each other. The students stayed in their cohorts and circled the entire school, wearing wings to ensure appropriate distance was maintained. The inspiration came from the school mascot, the eagle, and staff decided to get wearable wings printed for students that would also allow them to maintain their “wingspan” from each other.
“We wanted to do something that showed that we are one community. Our students are coming here from two schools - Sunnyside and Hall’s Prairie, so we wanted to have an official ceremony to recognize our new school community here at Douglas Elementary,” said Chohan. “They’re the first kids in the school, and I felt it was really important that we mark this occasion with a special event.
“However, with the pandemic, we knew we couldn’t hold an assembly, or do the typical things we would to celebrate an opening. So, we found a way to safely come together as a school community in a manner that was fun for our students and consistent with our COVID-19 health and safety protocols.”
Typical or not, students were excited to show off their wings, with different classes taking bets on how big the circle around the school will be. They also had an opportunity to decorate their wings, based on Douglas Elementary’s new school motto.
“Our school motto is ‘Be kind, be curious, be proud to be you,’” said Chohan. “We encouraged them to decorate the wings to represent themselves.”
In following provincial health guidelines, students were physically distanced and maintained their cohorts that were assigned at the start of the school year at their previous home schools.
“The cohorts have stayed the same as they were at Hall’s Prairie and Sunnyside, nothing changed with that,” said Chohan. “And we have so much space outside – we can have all of our cohorts out at the same time because our grounds are so big. We assign play areas to designated grade groups so we can continue to keep our students safe.”
As for whether they had enough students to make it all the way around the school, Chohan responded “Absolutely! Maintaining 2 meters between each student ensured we could make it all the way around!”
The new students and staff at Douglas Elementary celebrated the school's opening with Wings Around Douglas, "minding their wingspan" with a physically distanced circle around the outside of the school.