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Sunnyside Elementary welcomes new 10-classroom addition

IMG_1838-1.jpgSunnyside students Peyton Symons and Brandon Lyons speak during the opening of their school's 10-classroom addition while fellow student Cian Smith looks on.

Staff and students at Sunnyside Elementary are celebrating the opening of a new 10-classroom addition that brings much-needed capacity relief to the south-Surrey school. Having opened its doors in December, the two-storey wing also includes four offices and two open-concept, flexible learning spaces that can be modified to suit a variety of learning situations and activities.

“Our board is very proud of its role in providing such a beautiful, efficient and functional place to learn, work and play," said Gary Tymoschuk, vice-chair of the Surrey Board of Education. "This addition will not only provide our students with an amazing environment to learn in, but it also creates much-needed space to help address the demands in our growing district."

While it’s only been a few weeks since they moved in, educators are already exploring new uses for the learning spaces, said Brandi Scott, principal at Sunnyside Elementary.

“These new flex rooms really give us a lot more options in terms of what we can offer to students,” said Scott. “Teachers can also use mobile workstations or desks in these spaces, switch to a floor-cushion environment or adapt it to suit any kind of subject or lesson type they may have in mind.”

Other key features of the addition are two new sensory rooms which are available to students who may feel overstimulated and find it challenging to concentrate. The rooms have programmable lighting and are populated with various sensory-specific objects such as weighted stuffed animals, a mini trampoline and bean bag chairs to help students regulate their moods.

"These rooms will help with visual, auditory and tactile processing for students who might need a bit of extra help finding their focus and allow us to provide them with a sense of calm and comfort,” explained Scott.

Building on the inclusive nature of the sensory rooms, the addition also boasts another new feature, with the inclusion of the district’s first purpose-built universal washroom space, featuring independent stalls with doors for students of all orientations.

“These are all-access and gender-neutral,” said Scott.

Having been in the building for a few weeks now, Scott said the new features have done wonders in reinforcing the school’s sense of identity and togetherness, a sentiment echoed by Sunnyside’s students.

"We are all learning in one space and it is easy for us to connect with our friends from other classes. And we can work on collaborative projects in the open common learning spaces," said Peyton Symons, a Grade 6 student at Sunnyside Elementary. “The biggest difference now that we are in the building is that we have a greater sense of community.”

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