By Leo C.
Take a glance at Westmount’s Van Horne campus and you won’t expect much. With its depressing, dull colored exterior and dirt-covered walls, it seems more like a correctional center, rather than an educational one.
However there is one redeeming feature that sets this run-down institution apart from others. Unique, and the only one of it’s kind in Calgary, the atrium is a symbol and the hidden jewel of Westmount. For those unfamiliar with the word, an atrium, in architectural terms, is an open roofed central court or entrance hall.
Taking up a bit less than half of the school’s total area, the atrium has stood as a paragon of gifted education and inner reflection since Sir William Van Horne High School Campus was built in 1966. Last year, the atrium’s roof was blown off. The building of a new roof was a long one, with the atrium’s condition becoming worsened by water damage. Repairs continued for about a year until it was decided to stop all progress and make the atrium an open-air one with no roof.
“ Yeah, the atrium’s a bit big. Lots of people say that the space could be used to create more useful things, like lockers or classrooms, but I think they don’t realize that the atrium is already so filled with positivity. When I look into the atrium, I see a reflection of myself. It’s a great place for me to just step back and meditate on things.” Said Jack Barbeau, a local student attending Westmount Charter at the Van Horne campus.
However, not all students share Jack’s view. Many records of complaints by students and parents have been recorded by the school. The plain and empty state that it is in currently does not help its image either. As student Ashley Yap says; “ The atrium is useless. We should fill the whole thing with water and have a big a** swimming pool or something, dude.”
As part of a campaign to try and show that the student council actually does something, the council carried out a survey amongst the student population regarding the cafeteria. A whooping ¾ of students asked said they had entered the atrium once or more during their time at the school, almost all of the remainder saying they had heard about it and would like to one day.
Thanks to results from the survey, officials have confirmed that the atrium will remain standing and kept as part of the school building for many years to come.