Airdrie Koinonia Christian School making best of situation
Airdrie Koinonia Christian School (AKCS) staff and students have had to make do since the beginning of the school year on Sept. 9, because construction delays on the school’s new home has forced AKCS to send its nearly 300 students to classrooms located in seven different churches throughout the city.
“This is not a long-term solution but it’s working,” said the school’s principal Earl Driedger.
Construction on the approximately 55,000-square-foot school began in March of 2011 and was expected to be completed before school began this year.
However, as the school start date approached, it became clear the building would not be ready in time and arrangements were made to house the students elsewhere.
Students in kindergarten classes are being taught at St. Francis of Assisi Anglican Church, Grade 1 classes are at Airdrie United Church, Grades 2 through 4 are housed at the jointly owned Victory/Seventh Day Adventist Church, Grades 5 and 6 are at the Lutheran Church of the Master, classes for Grade 7 and 8 students are held at the Airdrie Alliance Church and Grades 9 through 12 are at Kings Court Church.
Ron Smith, director of advancement for the school, said parents were made aware of the alternate arrangements prior to the start of school via the school’s weekly newsletter that is emailed.
He called the situation a short-term glitch that they can see an end to in the near future and added parents have been stepping up and helping out where they can.
Dreidger agreed saying parents have arranged a school monitoring program at the different locations to allow teachers a bit of a break during recess and the lunch hour.
Shelley Knudson, a parent of a Grade 11 student and volunteer coordinator for the school, has been organizing the monitoring program at the different locations and said she hopes to fill spots so there is one parent per grade to help out the teacher.
“It became quickly apparent if we want to keep our teachers until we get our new building, we need to support them,” she said of her reasoning behind the program.
She said she has also been to all seven churches to see what type of facility the teachers are working with and what parents can do to help.
Knudson said some locations are working without a photocopier and in tight quarters that they have to set up and tear down each day.
“The more that we can do to communicate with them and meeting specific needs of their location we should be able to help get everyone through (until the new building is completed),” she said.
“This is not something I want to see happen for the whole year. We just need to do the best to help support and encourage each other through this,” Knudson added.
“One parent stepped forward and is loaning a teacher a van for the duration of the stay (at the church locations),” Dreidger said, adding teachers are having to drive more if they are required to be at multiple location throughout the day.
He said teachers and parents are commended for making the best of the situation.
“It will be so much better when we are under one roof.”
He said from a principal standpoint, communication is the key.
“Communication is tricky for certain but I have three outstanding vice principals,” he said. “They help with hands-on communication with teachers and students in their area.”
He added he meets regularly with the vice principals and goes to the different schools to address concerns and see what they need in order to run more effectively.
Dreidger said the staff is doing its best to keep classroom involvement at the same level it was when all students were at one location but they are also mindful of being in churches with non-school patrons and are trying to keep things a little quieter than usual.
“From what I’ve seen, students are doing just great,” he said.
“Truthfully, I think all the kids see this as a big adventure,” Knudson said.
She said her daughter’s option classes have changed because the churches simply do not have the facilities to house a home economics class for example, but she said the core classes have remained the same.
“Not much has changed other than the environment,” she said.
“It’s a little tough for parents sometimes if they have children in different locations,” the principal admits.
He said he understands the hassle for parents and continues to offer bus service throughout the duration of the multi-location situation and is keeping them up-to-date on activities through weekly emails.
He added he is aware of the impact the students are having on the communities surrounding the churches.
“We are just doing what we can to keep the relationships (with the communities) healthy,” he said.
He said he has spoken with his students and told them to be respectful and to tread lightly.
The new AKCS building is anticipated to open its doors to students in early November.
The school is expected to have full use of all facilities by the end of 2013.