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Celebrating a brand new home for Kempenfelt Bay School

Students and staff at Kempenfelt Bay School have a lot to celebrate this week with the end of the school year and dreams of moving to a permanent site
Grade 4 student Adam is excited to show off the artist's rendering of the new Kempenfelt Bay Shool. Robin MacLennan/BarrieToday

Students and staff at Kempenfelt Bay School have a lot to celebrate this week.

As if the last day of the school year isn't enough to get excited about, throw in a ground breaking ceremony for a brand new school and that's a new level of excitement.

"We are building a future for our school, with room to expand in the future," said Graeme Hookey, Head of the school. "We will be in the right spot at the right time."

Hookey and all of the KBS students travelled to Innisfil on Monday, to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of their new home. They were joined by officials from the Town, and the YMCA.

The new 24,000 sq. ft. building will be constructed on the site of the former municipal building, a location now known as the municipal campus. Neighbours include the town office, South Simcoe Police and InnPower.

When the school opens in September, 2017, it will house students from JK to Grade 8. The big difference with the new, permanent site, is that KBS will have space to expand to Grade 12 in the next few years.

Also, the location allows a unique partnership with the town and the YMCA. Students will be able to use the recreation centre and sports fields.

"It's an opportunity for everyone," Hookey explained. "The facility we are building will have another gym and we will have a theatre and the classrooms can be used (for meetings) in the off time.

KBS opened in Barrie in 1999 and the current location on Bryne Drive is more suited to commercial or office space.

Hookey smiles when he thinks about the possibilities students will have at the new site and he is quick to boast about the success of the independent school where the mission is  to “empower students to embrace their personal potential as productive and responsible global citizens.” 

"Our average students are always above average secondary school students," he said, crediting smaller class sizes and focused academic programming for the consistent results.

"You take an child and they can become an above average student."

Focus sets KBS apart from other schools and ensures students graduate with "a great education and great work habits."

"I'm not going to criticise the public education system, but it is very hard to be good at everything they do when they are spread too thin," Hookey said. 

"With 15 kids in a class, you can actually work with individual kids and that makes a difference."

While there is an air of seriousness at KBS, on the day of the end-of-the-year talent show, the gymnasium is filled with silly laughter and fun as students show off their singing, dancing, music and other talents.

Unlike public and Catholic schools, independent schools in Ontario are not funded by the government, but by tuition fees. Class sizes average 15 kids at KBS and all grades offer a balanced programme of academics, arts, and athletics intended to provide students with the learning skills, and positive attitude to learning, to build a foundation for post-secondary education and life-long learning.

Physical education classes are a part of every day, and KBS is the only elementary school in Barrie to offer an instrumental music program starting at Grade 4.

The search for a permanent location got serious about three years ago, and Hookey says Innisfil is the perfect fit.

"Properties in Barrie are few and far between," he explained. "Innisfil is a little bit less developed and land was a bit more affordable."

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Robin MacLennan

About the Author: Robin MacLennan

Robin MacLennan has been a reporter, photographer and editor for the daily media in Barrie, across Simcoe County and Toronto for many years. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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