Building for Student Success | Jack James High School modernization provides new spaces and new opportunities

Sep. 21, 2016

The new school year is off to a great start for students at Jack James High School. Over the past 18 months the school underwent a $10 million major modernization which focused on upgrading Career and Technology Studies spaces for auto body, horticulture and landscaping, child care and development, and building trades.

“It is wonderful to see the students’ first reactions as they enter these new spaces. One shop in particular is awe-inspiring for students, as the space is large enough to build part of a house indoors,” says Principal Thomas Dueck.

The school has a partnership with Homes by Avi to construct a portion of a home as part of the school’s building trades program. Prior to the modernization, the home construction project took place outside and was sometimes hampered by poor weather conditions. Students are now able to focus on learning about home construction and the practical application of that knowledge because they can work safely indoors throughout the school year.

“I am speechless…it is just so impressive…I like everything about it,” says John, Grade 10 student.
The modernization has created industry-standard learning spaces that enhance opportunities for students and support programming. From the lifts and paint booths in the auto body classroom to the new greenhouse for horticulture and landscaping, students are learning to use the proper tools and equipment in the right environment.

“Students have access to work on the exact equipment they will encounter when entering a trade area. The confidence students will have as a result of their preparation will benefit them in their transition to the workplace or a college setting,” says Dueck.

"I love the larger space to work in and all the modern equipment. It is better than what I’ve seen in garages I’ve visited,” says Andrew, Grade 11 student.

One of the most notable improvements to the school is the additional space it has provided and the opportunity to share programming with students at other area high schools. Forest Lawn High is within walking distance, which gives students from this neighbouring school easy access to optional courses at Jack James that require specialized equipment, space and instruction. In turn, Jack James High School students will be able to take CTS courses that are offered at Forest Lawn High School.

“We are able to accommodate more students and provide students with an ideal amount of space to learn and practice relevant skills,” says Dueck. “Students working alongside each other from different high schools allows for “real world” interactions that usually occur only in the work place.”

Several other improvements to the high school, which was built in 1980, included upgrading mechanical/electrical systems, improvements to building accessibility and the exterior as well as classroom space renovations.