Though it's been open for more than a year and already graduated its first class of students, Burnaby Central Secondary School got a red carpet grand opening ceremony Tuesday.
The $55-million facility drew Premier Christy Clark and a host of local elected officials and dignitaries.
It was something of a homecoming for Clark, who graduated from the Burnaby school district, and whose father taught math to board chair Larry Hayes at Central.
"This school is an example of how, when government decides to invest its money well, it goes a long way. Over the coming months and years and decades, what you are going to demonstrate is how this pays off in the long term for British Columbians," Clark said to the students invited to the event.
Clark touted the school as the perfect springboard for what she predicts will be a robust job market for graduates in the years ahead. The school has state-of-the-art facilities like a competition-sized double gymnasium, a three-bay autoshop, e-lab, outdoor track and field facilities good enough for international competition, a professional training kitchen, and a dedicated theatre and dance studio.
"In the next 10 years, if we play our cards right, if we're purposeful and if we stick to a plan, there will be a million job openings in British Columbia," she said. "And the education that will be provided at this school, with the spaces that are created for trades training, for chef training, opportunities for people to lead our communities together through the arts .B.C. students will be first in line for those million jobs."
The otherwise jovial mood of the Clark's speech turned sombre when she brought up Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Coquitlam student who took her own life after years of torment from bullies.
"Amanda's message to us was that none of us should be bystanders - that all of us have a special role to play in making someone else's life better, that all of us have the opportunity to stand up and make a difference," she said.
Clark urged the students to never miss an opportunity, big or small, to reach out to someone nearby in need.
The highlight for the 150 students attending was a screening of the Burnaby Central LipDub - a seven minute-long music video featuring hundreds of Central students dancing, lip-synching and hamming it up in front of the camera as it tours the school in one highly choreographed and synchronized take.
The ceremony ended just before the 3 p.m. bell and the atrium filled with curious students, snapping pictures of the premier with their smartphones, and enjoying cake prepared by the school's culinary students.
"It's definitely a huge improvement. I think it's great," said Grade 8 student Navien Kumar, whose sister attended the old Central.
But he and fellow student Oliver Merrett-Hiley harboured some skepticism about the school's cost and the grand opening.
"I think this is just a photo opportunity for (Clark), like just a feel-good story," Oliver said of the event.
Despite admitting that he's not a fan of the premier, the precocious Grade 9 student bounded off to get his photo taken with her.
"Hey, she's a high-ranking person. Why not?" he said after.