As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, January 15, 2016
by Doug Graham, Minister of Education
Just before the holidays, former and current students gathered at the old F.H. Collins Secondary School building, where fond memories were shared and goodbyes were made to a much-loved school that, for 53 years, was a place of learning for generations of Yukoners.
Although some may have shed a tear or two as they said their goodbyes, there was also great excitement in the air as people got their first tour of the brand-new school next door.
Last Wednesday night, I was proud to speak at the official opening ceremony for the new F.H. Collins, a warm, inviting and modern space that will serve Yukon students well for years to come.
I was so pleased to see that the transition from the old school to the amazing new facility has gone so smoothly. Though it’s only been two weeks, students and teachers are already making it feel like home, and you could tell that new and lasting memories are already being made there.
One of this government’s priorities is making strategic investments in Yukon’s infrastructure, and this project was at the top of our list, as the old building was nearing the end of its life cycle.
I’m pleased to say that the new F.H. Collins was completed on time and on budget. We are working to make Yukon the best place to live, work, play and raise a family, and investing in education is one of the best ways to meet that goal.
Education is an investment in our future. For individual students, it’s the path to employment, a sense of belonging and self-worth, and a better life. Education is also key to healthy families, healthy communities and a strong economy.
This is why we built a first-class school that supports modern practices in learning and teaching, where students can develop the skills they need to build successful careers and make positive contributions.
Staff and students can feel good about spending their school days in this space, which feels bright and warm even during these dark winter days.
The new building features a number of multi-use spaces that can be adapted for different programs and purposes. The foyer, for example, can also be used as a study space, a cafeteria dining area, or additional seating for events in the gym.
These kinds of flexible spaces encourage collaboration between classes, cross-curriculum projects and diverse hands-on learning opportunities.
The new F.H. Collins is also technology-ready. Mobile devices such as cell phones, iPads and tablets are everywhere these days, including in our schools. Education around the world is embracing this technology and the tools it offers to improve learning and engagement.
In each of the classrooms, students can broadcast their projects from their own devices onto a board for the class to see and discuss. The possibilities of the ready-to-use technology in the new school are truly impressive.
In every Yukon community, First Nations are important partners in delivering education, and there are of course many First Nations represented among the students of F.H. Collins.
The new school features an Elders’ lounge and a dedicated area for the First Nations educators and Education Support Workers. We’re very proud to offer this dedicated area for language, culture and traditional knowledge.
I would like to thank the project planners, managers, contractors, subcontractors and builders for the many months of hard work that went into this project. This team of professionals kept the project moving ahead on budget and on schedule.
Thank you to the educators, advisors, school council members and staff who collaborated, researched, planned and organized a successful transition to the new building. Thanks as well to former Minister of Education Elaine Taylor and to Minister of Highways and Public Works Scott Kent, who helped lead the way in making the new school a reality.
Just as the achievements of F.H. Collins alumni were celebrated at the closing celebration last month, I look forward to what today’s students will accomplish – supported by the dedicated staff, school community and these excellent, modern facilities.