HORNBY ISLAND, B.C. – After seven months, elementary students on Hornby Island have a place to call their own.

That’s because Hornby Island Community School reached a new milestone today.

Modular classrooms officially opened today, providing a new temporary-permanent home for staff and students who lost school to a fire last August.

On Aug. 26, 2018, just days before school was about to begin, a fire destroyed a major portion of the school.

A 25-year-old man was later charged with arson damaging property.

The fire forced the school population, made up of staff and 44 students from kindergarten to Grade 7, to attend school in temporary sites.

A look inside the Hornby Island Community School.
Photo courtesy Mary Lee/School District 71

Since the fire nearly six months ago, students have been divided into two locations. According to School District 71, the island’s community hall and Room to Grow were rented from the Hornby Island Educational Society and the Ratepayer’s Association.

However, a month ago, nine modular structures arrived on Hornby Island on Jan. 14. The buildings were constructed in Squamish and then transported by barge to the island.

The buildings were driven to the school site on tractor trailers and then offloaded by crane.

Since then, crews have been busily stitching the building together so the students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 7 could move in. The facility includes a wooden gazebo in the centre so the buildings can open into one-centre corridor.

“It’s really quite a lovely little set up,” School District 71 communications manager Mary Lee said. “It’s quaint, it’s warm, it’s modern, and bright.”

This wooden gazebo is part of the newly built Hornby Island Community School.
Photo courtesy Mary Lee/School District 71

Now complete, the nine structures make up three teaching classrooms, one library, and one administrative room.

“It is fully operational, the kids are in classrooms, there’s heat, there’s internet, (and) the telephones are working,” Lee said.

District maintenance crews were on site today, putting the finishing touches on the school.

“The students thought it was great because they got to see the trades professionals at work and it’s a real community feel,” Lee said. “These kids now know how everyone in the district, from the teachers and the principals to the maintenance staff, how hard they’re working for them to get them into their own space.”

Lee described the facility as a “temporary-permanent school” until a permanent structure is built.

“There is going to be a permanent structure,” she added. “The timeline is still to be decided. Reports (have been) going into the Ministry of Education. And then from there they decide on the long-term plans.”