Open For Business

Two years ago, nearly to this date, the HDCH Board set in motion the design and build process for the new addition. We stood together with a small group and talked of a vision that would transform the learning for our Independent Learning Program, our Students Services, our Co-op/Venture Programs and our International Student Program. We walked from room 111 down the hall to the East end and faced Glancaster Road. We stopped and tried to imagine the transformation of a ‘dead-end.’ It was to become a space for all learners, a space that would change the profile of HDCH as it faces the community around us, and a beautiful space where students and teachers could coexist as learners together. And when we presented this vision to the membership in the spring of 2014, it was clear by their vote that they too saw this as a vision to support.  

Learning Centre

Photo used with permission by: Dan Banko of Banko Media

When I first sat down with our architect to begin the design process, we talked about this vision and we talked about these three main metaphorical concepts about the space.

  1. Campfires – A campfire space is a place for storytelling, gathering and just being together, or for studying in groups, reflecting, and laughing together. We imagined groups of 5-10 students using these kinds of spaces at any given time.  
  2. Caves – A cave is a quiet space for respite, for studying and for working. When thinking about cave spaces, we talked about King David, a writer of many Psalms, who retreated up into caves to write, reflect and find safety. These are spaces for 1 or 2 students.  
  3. Cafés – A café space is central, in the middle of the action. It provides opportunities for connections with other students and staff. It’s a space to eat a bite and maybe have a coffee, read a paper, or work away on your laptop. It’s an open place to meet with a teacher or a guidance counselor. Lots of people can use a café space at the same time.

“The glass architecture of the Learning Centre opens up our educational wing to the outside world. The design inspires me to look for new and better ways to connect our students to real world learning opportunities in our community. As well, I look forward to seeing how the new Co op/Venture classroom will provide new possibilities for collaborative learning and interaction that will benefit students. This addition creates an open, brightly lit space in place of a dark stairwell.  I anticipate students will find it an inviting,  attractive place to work together and interact with staff and community resource people.” –Richard Van Egmond, Director of Venture Program/Co-op Education

“It is fun to see the way the students are coming in to explore the spaces.  Equally fun is to see how they come throughout the day to find a spot to work both together and individually.” –Aline Koiter, Learning Coordinator

The Board set out with a vision, with a specific budget and a specific fundraising target. (We would not start the project until we had raised 80% of the funds required.) And as I walk through the space today, I can tell you that seeing and being in it is even better than what we imagined when we started this process.

On behalf of the teachers and students of HDCH, I want to thank our whole community for making this happen.



Nathan Siebenga