The burning schoolhouse
By Sara Marett
The popular childhood dream of seeing a school burn down came true recently for students of Saskatoon's Kelsey Institute at Saskatchewan's Institute of Applied Science and Technology.
A Jan. 5 fire at the school caused an estimated $5-7 million in damages, said Ray Fast, acting principal of Kelsey. The fire occurred in a tower of the main building as a result of attempts to weatherproof the roof. The entire tower area was subsequently destroyed due to water damage.
Lindsay Vanthuyne, president of Kelsey's Student Council, said the fire affected all of the school's 4,000 students. "The first week of classes after the Christmas holidays were cancelled," she said. "We had to quickly accommodate the students, particularly those in the nursing and hospitality programs whose classrooms were destroyed."
Fast said the repercussions of the fire have been a major inconvenience for the students and faculty, but fortunately the school was able to quickly relocate over 1,000 of the students.
Students were immediately accommodated as Kelsey rented three floors of a highrise building in downtown Saskatoon, where 400 students were sent to attend classes. As well, approximately 600 students were sent to the R.J. Williams School at the University of Saskatchewan.
"It hasn't been a large inconvenience for us to accommodate the Kelsey students," said Paul Juneau, assistant vice-president in charge of facilities management at U of S. "We were happy to help them out in a time of crisis."
Fast said it will take three or four months to rebuild the tower. He added there is no point moving the students back before the end of the term, so they will likely stay at U of S. "We were fortunate we were able to rent out both spaces," Fast said.
Vanthuyne said the biggest inconvenience since the fire has been communicating with the entire student body. "It's been really difficult because the students are dispersed all over the city," she said.