Marine Drive Academy opens new facility during pandemic

By Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
September 30 2020

SHEET HARBOUR – There are 255 students registered at the brand-new Marine Drive Academy (MDA) in Sheet Harbour, from Pre-Primary to Grade 12. The school construction and finishing touches were put into high gear to welcome students and staff on time in September – despite an on-going global pandemic.

Teachers, administrators and support staff continue to reinforce expectations about public health measures set down by the Dept. of Health and the provincial government. “This includes the wearing of non-medical masks, the importance of social distancing where possible, both inside and outside, and to avoid large gatherings,” Doug Hadley, Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) spokesperson, shared in an email with The Journal.

MDA staff have been communicating with families to reinforce the expectations for the students to adhere to following protocols, especially when students are out of school, before school, at lunch time and at the end of the day. “We believe asking families to take a few minutes to remind students that they have an important role to play in keeping our communities and schools safe will go a long way,” Hadley said.

“It was great to open Marine Drive Academy,” says Hadley. “From all accounts, students and staff have been giving the new school rave reviews. There is still some work left to finish both inside and outside the building, including constructing a new sports field.”

Hadley says ongoing work is a common occurrence with new school construction projects. “Both the school and HRCE are working closely with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to complete these typical opening details.”

The state-of-the-art school was designed around three main activity areas: the welcoming entry; the active living and performance zone; and the maker space. “These spaces work together to encourage creativity and discovery as part of all learning experiences within the school,” Hadley said.

While the building has not yet been opened to the public for viewing because of the pandemic restrictions, a video was made by the staff and principal, Ronnie Reynolds, and shared online. Photographs of the interior of the new school are available for viewing on the HRCE Marine Drive Academy website.

“The active living area includes multiple spaces to encourage wellness including a gym, a separate fitness studio and a dedicated weight room,” explained Hadley. “Both the drama and music rooms are linked via learning stairs to the cafeteria and the rest of the school. These stairs provide an informal venue for small performances as well as space to collaborate on projects.”

The maker space “…incorporates the art room, library, production space, nutrition lab and circulation areas,” he said. “It is a flexible and adaptable learning environment which creates a central shared collaborative zone linking the more formal learning spaces, such as classrooms. There are places for a range of activities – both active group work as well as quiet individual activities.”

The spokesperson said the students and staff were excited to be back in school after six months away. “Generally speaking,’’ Hadley said, “students are doing a tremendous job adjusting to the public health measures that are in place to support the return to school. This is true in all of our schools.”

The school’s website is www.hrce.ca/marine-drive-academy and virtual tour can be found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=68z2-wTaC2o