In 1980 the School District’s solution to a growing student population was to bus Hornby students from grades five, six and seven off the island to the Union Bay School. An idea flatly rejected by Hornby parents.
During a community meeting with District staff, Tim Biggins asked, “shall we build you a school?”. District staff likely scanned the group of obviously ‘counter culture’ parents with considerable doubtfulness.
Over time, however, they realized this had not been a rhetorical question. This rather motley appearing crew was both creative and capable. The inspiration and impetus for the Room To Grow was launched.
First the deck was built, upon which an auction of donated items was held to pay for materials. The deck became the floor and soon walls enclosed the space. Members of the Hornby community raised the money and volunteered their labor to build the Room To Grow, so young students would not have to undergo a daily two-ferry return trip to attend classes.
Once the building was completed and ready for classroom use, the School District rented the Room To Grow for $700.00 per month. The Hornby Island Education Society, HIES, was formed to build, oversee and manage the building as a community asset located on SD71 grounds.
In 1984 with the completion of the new school, the Room To Grow students were relocated into the school and the Room To Grow reverted for community use. HIES evolved into an umbrella organization for community programs and groups including the Kitchen, the Access Centre, Job Shop and eventually the impetus for the official ‘community school’ itself.
In the fall of 2018, as a result of the devastating school fire, the Room To Grow once again became a classroom for Hornby Island students while the temporary modular school was under construction. Now community groups, once again, can use the space for a variety of activities and meetings – including our beloved Quilters, life drawing class, ukulele group, birthday parties, teen tutoring, recreation programs, etc. Room To Grow continues to be an important community resource forty years later.
Room to Grow Architectural Drawings
Article by the BC Schools Trustees Association