Douglas Elementary finally received its formal opening ceremony Feb. 17 – well over a year after it actually opened.
Principal Sundeep Chohan welcomed an array of dignitaries to the event, held behind the school – but broadcast to students and parents inside – while explaining that COVID-19 restrictions had made it difficult to schedule a formal opening.
The $26-million school at 17325 2 Ave., opened for classes on Dec. 1, 2020. It features 25 classrooms, a spacious gym, maker lab, multipurpose room, project spaces and a large all-weather field, as well as outdoor play areas and a basketball court.
Among those attending to cut the ribbon were Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux, Surrey Superintendent of Schools Jordan Tinney and Surrey Board of Education members including chair Laurie Larsen and White Rock and South Surrey representative Laurae McNally.
Senior Indigenous support worker Paula James and Chappell both spoke on the significance of calling on Grade 7 student Mehar Gaba and Grade 5 student Nova Haley, among others, to witness the ceremony, which took place on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and Katzie First Nations.
Students – Douglas Elementary ‘Eagles’ – were prominent in the ceremony. Grade 3 students sang ‘The Equality Song’ written by Patrick Aleck of the Stz’umis First Nation and the Penelakut Tribe for guests, while Grade 6 students Jobanjeet Dhaliwal and Julia Hessels spoke about the opportunities for learning provided by the school, especially for many who had previously studied in portable classrooms.
The school population is made up of students formerly attending Hall’s Prairie Elementary and Montessori and Sunnyside Elementary.
When the school first opened, all 355 students gathered for an outdoor ‘Wings Around Douglas’ event in which they made a circle around the school, wearing wings to ensure they were six feet apart from one another.
Douglas Elementary is one of four new schools in the South Surrey area opened since 2020, including Grandview Heights Secondary – the first new secondary school in the area in 28 years – which received its official opening on Feb. 3.
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