There are not many places where you can have more fun than Grade 5 gym class. I can still vividly remember my own schooldays where despite Mr. Parry being our gym teacher, it was still fun. Mr. Parry was one of those sadistic individuals who would probably have become a serial killer had he not become a school teacher. Yet even despite his best efforts he failed to take the fun out of it for us young boys.
We used to play a game called “Pirates” where we had to avoid being captured by Pirate Parry and were not allowed to touch the gymnasium floor, which was the sea of course. So we had to scamper around the gym, swinging from rope to rope, climbing on the wall bars, bouncing on the mini trampoline or vaulting over the pommel horse onto the mats.
I’m sure similar scenarios happen every day in elementary schools all over Winnipeg.
But not at Queenston School. Despite being over 80-years-old, the school has always lacked a proper gymnasium and students have to make do with a small multi-purpose room.
All that is about to change though as a new school gymnasium will soon become a reality.
The Winnipeg School Division with provincial funding and the support of the Public School Finance Board have built a new gymnasium annex that is located on the north side of the school.
The size of the gym has been a bit of a hot topic locally with the School Division committing to build a 4,000 square feet addition. However local residents lead by Colleen McFadden, have been active in fundraising from neighbours and school alumni for an additional 800 square feet. It is felt that the extra space will open up opportunities for local residents to participate in recreational and competitive sports in the new building outside of school hours.
Andrew Lewthwaite and Peter Sampson of PSA Architecture Studio have been the main designers of the project and Regent Construction is the main builder. The long overdue addition will be named after a local River Heights heroine Sheilah Sweatman who was tragically killed while volunteering in a search and rescue mission on a fast flowing river in the British Columbia interior.
Construction has been delayed slightly as community fundraising for the additional space was underway. The fundraising drive was initially unable to raise its desired target of $450,000 however a grant from Manitoba’s Community Places Program was enough to guarantee the go ahead for the enhanced gymnasium.
Once the size of the building was specified things started to move forward.
School principal Wade Gregg says an additional benefit from the construction is that the north stairwell at the school will be replaced with a new foyer, stairwell and elevator making the building accessible to all for the first time in its history.
The new gym is projected to be ready to open by early June, however final construction and landscaping will continue through the summer with a grand opening ceremony planned for September.