With parts of the school ready for reoccupation, South Okanagan Secondary School is inviting the public for an open house Wednesday evening in the restored sections of the school that were saved from the fire.
Just over three months ago, the Oliver community watched in shock as a major blaze engulfed the school that generations of their children had passed through. Though the fire was devastating, some sections of the school were saved.
“We saved about 40 per cent from the fire, mostly in the new construction,” said principal Cate Turner. “And the science super lab and the multipurpose room just reopened this week.“
Getting those sections ready for the students to return required a lengthy restoration process, according to Turner, including the inspection and permitting process. Now that they are open, they want to give the public a chance to visit, something she said only a few had a chance to do before the fire.
“We were only open for a few days before the fire,” she said. “This is a chance for people to come through and see the new sections. To encourage the heart.”
The students have been dealing well with going to school in a collection of portable classrooms, Turner said, noting that the school was using six of the portables prior to the fire. But that, she said, has made them appreciate the new spaces all the more.
“You should have seen their faces when they came in there yesterday,” said Turner, recounting the variations of “there is so much room” she heard from the students as they entered the multipurpose room.
Turner affirmed that the school will definitely be rebuilt, with plans to accommodate a student population of about 550. They’ll also be rebuilding the Neighbourhood Learning Centre and the school’s attached auditorium, though Turner said it won’t be in the classic art deco style of the Frank Venables Auditorium.
The SOSS open house takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.