Thursday, September , 2011. This marks the start date of the Class of 2011’s first and last full year at Oxbow Prairie Horizons School (OPHS), the new K-12 school in Oxbow, Saskatchewan. It’s an absolutely gorgeous facility, complete with a large gym (equipped with top-of-the-line sound and lighting systems), integrated program for the functionally challenged students, large foyer, kitchen and even an extra gym. The building is plenty big and even has removable classrooms, but every rose has its thorn, right? Or in OPHS’ case, thorns.
Shortly after starting the 2011-2012 school term, and even shortly after moving into the school in March? of 2011, many staff and students have noticed a few glitches (so to speak) in the system. At first, small, piddly details that we can easily deal with (overcome? ). Like the room design of the biology, chemistry and physics labs where bulletin boards are blocked by the teachers’ desk and computer or even by entire counters. Like in the canteen, we were lucky enough to have beautiful cupboards installed to store our merchandise, but when it came time to actually sell it/them, students were unable to see the products anyways.
So, in turn, the cupboard doors were taken off completely. Eventually, the small problems began to arise more suspicions and more noticeable and elaborate ones were recognized. Toilets in the washrooms began to constantly flush, some having to be manuallly shut off. The office in the shop has no windows, it is just a small room enclosed of cement. The parking lot is poorly designed. Trying to see around parked vehicles to hitting oncoming ones is hard and it is nearly impossible to maneuver large vehicles around at all.
The buses drop students off half a block from the main entrances and when students do enter the school, depending on the weather, are required to move outdoor shoes because the parking lot is either muddy, full of water, or both. Which is not only a bother to our janitors but also to visitors, who trip over shoes trying to enter the building. Wireless internet was the first of many large problems to be noticed by the students. They were told that if you have a class where you will be using laptops and it is a larger class, to bring a personal laptop to work on as there may not be enough laptops for everyone.
So, some did, until they told that the principal wasn’t given a password to the school’s public Wi-Fi network and they were unable to do homework and sassingments anyways. Even now, after Mr. Petlak has been given the password and used it on student’s computers, they are unable to access certain sites due to them being blocked. Sites that students use to complete and accomplish tasks and assignments. Why? Because staff at OPHS are unable to control this. It is government workers in either Weyburn or Regina that do. The base temperature of OPHS is, put simply, freezing.
During September, where it can be twenty degrees celsius and above, most staff and students were already wearing sweaters and jackets to class. Which, in retrospect, is not uncommon for Oxbow. In the old high school, anyone working in the building would be wearing jackets, touques and mittens, unless you were in the science labs or the main office. There you would wear shorts, tank tops and flip flops. But with the excitment of the Horizons School close to being fully built, came the realization that we could actually wear seasonal appropriate clothing to school.
Or so we thought. Now, in the new school, we freeze pretty well everywhere. With the exception of the Sr. Computer Lab, main office and the canteen (which are all normal temperatures), staff and students are still needing to wear layers and even haul blankets form class to class. Why? This is because of the poor commmunictation between our school and Weyburn, where they then decide whether or not to contact Regina to turn up the heat in jsut one particular room. Which, after the first few attmepts of doing so, we were told to use the thermostats located in each classroom.
These allow teachers the ability to raise or lower the room temperature by 3 degrees. That’s it. In one area of the school there is actually cold air being blown throughout its rooms. But for us to fix this, we must flip a breaker. Instead of simply pushing a button on a thermostat to raise the temperature, we are required to issue a complaint to the Weyburn office, who then decide whether it is a big enough deal to report to the office in Regina. And apparently, it isn’t a problem for us to freeze. All of these problems can relate back to the fact that Oxbow has no power against the authority offices in Regina and Weyburn.
We are not able to decide the climate of our classrooms, who has access to use our internet or even who is allowed put a screw in the wall to hang a picture. We are by no means, allowed to. A government office in that is 150-250 kilometers away makes the decision of what is and is not allowed. People who have no idea what goes on in our school, who attends or works there, what we are like or even where Oxbow is, has that discretion. Yes, our old school’s had a very large laundry list: plumbing, heating, electrical and just overall renovating. This article is not set out to complain about our new school.
We were in much need of a new facility and are greatly appreciative for the effort, time and hard work that were pput into building it. But, with that said, I find it hard to comprehend how certain, seemingly common sense issues are ignored. The new school in Oxbow has heightened the school’s many previous strengths such as atheletics, drama, academics and even the staff and students as individuals. This school also has its negative effects though. And it is the students that are being effected. The future depends on them. So why does it have to be such a struggle to give them a proper learning environment? Teagan Loppe