Wednesday was the first grandparents day at Glenlyon Norfolk School and for many of the previous generation it was a chance to see the newest classrooms at the junior school campus.
The independent school officially opened the first phase of its new facilities at Beach Drive on Friday with a ribbon cutting by donors, alumni and students alike.
It was exciting then, and it continues to be exciting times as GNS moves into the second stage of a multi-phase plan to redevelop both its Oak Bay campus and also the Pemberton Woods middle and senior school campus in Victoria’s Gonzales neighbourhood, said the school’s deputy head Chad Holtum.
“The comments from the teachers and students are that it feels like Christmas morning, there’s a real excitement around both the campuses,” Holtum said.
Among the upgrades of the first stage are the renovation and re-dedication of the boathouse, one of three buildings on site that were designed by English architect Francis Rattenbury. The architect was an Oak Bay reeve who came to prominence for designing the B.C. Parliament Building. Rattenbury’s coach house will also be renovated, as well as the main house, which currently houses the junior school’s reception office and classes.
The ribbon cutting was the official launch, though junior kindergarten (four years old) and kindergarten students moved in three weeks ago to the new Gudewill House and Zhang House, respectively, which look out on Oak Bay Marina next to the Boathouse. The Boathouse is also being used temporarily as a classroom while the old Science Block is being deconstructed. It will be replaced with a 32,000 square-foot main hall that will take two years to build.
All work on the century old Rattenbury buildings is to heritage standards, Holtum said.
The costs of the new buildings and renovations will be released in October, when GNS launches its official fundraising campaign though Holtum did say this first phase was fully funded by donors.
“Beach Drive is the only junior school like it in the country,” Holtum said. “When you have that, you take time to get it right.”
It’s meant engaging with alumni, students, parents, teachers, constituents and stakeholders involved, he said.
Local architect Christopher Rowe, of Lowe Hammond Rowe Architects, designed the new buildings.
“We want to to make sure what we’re creating is the right thing for this epic and historic site. The quality of construction and teaching learning spaces considers the environmental impact and are state of the art.”
The kindergarten facility has been named the Zhang House in honour of Sam and Pei Zhang, GNS parents with two students currently in the junior school. The Boathouse is renamed the Robertson Boathouse, in honour of the Robertson alumni family. The junior kindergarten facility is named the Janey Gudewill Early Learning Centre, or Gudewill House, in honour of Janey and Eddie Gudewill, whose four sons attended Glenlyon Preparatory School (before it merged with Norfolk House School in 1985).
And underneath the Gudewill House is a new marine adventure equipment facility named The Haven, a gift from the Hemphill alumni Family.
The Boathouse will eventually host marine outdoor adventure programs for all GNS students, junior kindergarten to Grade 12.
The original house, which houses the main reception and classroom space, will be renovated in about 28 months.
GNS has also started a master planning and neighbourhood engagement process as it plans to upgrade and enhance the facilities at Pemberton Woods.