807 COLUMBIA FOREST Court, Waterloo, N2V2M6
807 COLUMBIA FOREST Court, Waterloo, Ontario N2V2M6
714 ROCK ELM Street, Waterloo, N2V0C2
714 ROCK ELM Street, Waterloo, Ontario N2V0C2
142 FOAMFLOWER Place Unit# D055, Waterloo, N2V0G9
142 FOAMFLOWER Place, Waterloo, Ontario N2V0G9
Vista Hills Public School
Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog! In our current series, we’ll be looking at the Top-Rated Elementary Schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), one at a time (the WRDSB serves Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and the surrounding Townships).
Today’s school is: Vista Hills Public School! Vista Hills Public School (henceforth to be referred to as Vista Hills PS) is located in western Waterloo. Its address is 314 Sweet Gale Street (Waterloo’s friendliest street name).
It is quite close to Wilmot Line and the extreme western border of Waterloo (the Township of Wilmot is mere minutes away). The nearest major intersection is Columbia Street West and Erbsville Road.
A discussion of Vista Hills PS’s history is, of necessity, a discussion of the very recent past. Indeed, Vista Hills PS is currently the newest school in Waterloo, and one of the newest in the entire WRDSB.
A mixture of local notables, WRDSB staff, and future students broke ground for the new school in June of 2015. It opened its doors to staff and students in September 2016, and it celebrated its official unveiling as Vista Hills Public School on May 4th, 2017.
Let’s take a look at the name itself. As has become increasingly common, naming of the school was open to suggestions from the public. Notable options included ‘James Bond Public School’ and ‘Happy Unicorn Public School;’ naturally, neither of these names made it to the shortlist.
The name would have to relate to the local area (and there aren’t very many unicorns nearby); thus, Vista Hills was chosen in reference to the school’s location atop the Waterloo Moraine, a large landform created in the ancient past as the Laurentide ice sheets retreated through the Waterloo Region (it’s possible the native Waterluvian unicorns, if ever they existed, retreated at that time, too).
Interestingly, the groundwater of the Waterloo Moraine provides nearly 90% of the region’s water supply – the Moraine you know! Vista Hills, therefore, refers to the beautiful views of the hilly terrain from atop the Moraine.
Vista Hills PS is one of the WRDSB’s top-rated schools. It serves students from Kindergarten all the way to Grade 8. The school can comfortably accommodate over 640 students, and among its special offerings is French Immersion for students wishing to bolster their skills in Canada’s other national language.
Vista Hills PS students are zoned for Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School for high school (you can read more about it here). As with the school name, picking of the school’s team name and mascot was opened to the community in 2016.
They settled upon the red-tailed hawk, and thus, they are now the Vista Hills Hawks. According to the school website, the Vista Hills Hawks are striving to embody several hawkish characteristics: “proud, territorial and protective of its home.” If that’s not school spirit, I don’t know what it is!
Go Hawks! The school hours are 8:35 – 2:25, with office hours from 8:00 – 3:30. The school’s phone number is (519) 884-4411.
Two of the most distinctive, and arguably greatest, facets of Vista Hills PS success are its innovative design and its forward-thinking initiatives. As for the former, one needs look no further than the school itself to see that Vista Hills PS is truly a 21st-century educational facility.
The building’s exterior was designed with an artful eye: its dark brown brick and white metal panelling were meant to represent snow swirling over the fields. Even more eye-catching than this element are the intriguing, curved shapes of the front façade, and the bright strips of colour along the school’s large front windows.
The interior is no less impressive: Vista Hills PS features large, open corridors beautifully illuminated by broad windows. Classrooms are open and accessible, and they feature the latest technology to ensure both an exceedingly modern, innovative education, as well as one that values collaboration and community.
Speaking to those last two points, Vista Hills PS has also distinguished itself provincially as a positive, community-focused school, the first iteration of a ‘HERO Generation’ school (meaning an emphasis on Hope, Efficacy, Resilience, and Optimism).
Indeed, as of June 2017, it was one of just 4 schools in all of Canada highlighted by Ahsoka Canada as an Ashoka change-maker school.
As noted, Vista Hills PS is one of the top-rated schools in the WRDSB. One of the main sources of the assessment is the Fraser Institute (a Canadian organization). One of the Fraser Institute’s primary initiatives is evaluating and then ranking Canadian schools on a variety of publically-available criteria.
This can be helpful for parents choosing where to live, and where to send their children to school: among other things, you can compare local schools to one another, as well as assess overall trends within a specific school.
At present, Vista Hills PS hold a score of 8.5/10, which places it well in the ‘Green’ zone (schools ranked over 7.6). This places it as the third-highest ranked school in all of Waterloo (in both the WRDSB and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board [WCDSB]), and the third-highest ranked school in the entire WRDSB (including schools from Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, and the surrounding Townships).
Impressively, Vista Hills PS is also currently ranked as the 136th best school in all of Ontario (out of a total 3064 Ontario schools ranked by the Fraser Institute!).
Taking a closer look at Vista Hills PS individually is slightly less informative than with schools that have been open for longer. Because the 2016-17 school year was Vista Hills PS’ inaugural session, there is as yet no way of determining overall trends.
However, it is a very positive sign that its first school year was so successful: already, Vista Hills PS has catapulted through the rankings to become one of the top schools in the Region. The data points the Fraser Institute uses to assess schools are based on the Education Quality and Accountability Office’s (EQAO) Grade 3 and Grade 6 testing.
The specific academic areas being assessed are Reading; Writing; and Math. Additional attention is given to Gender Gap in performance in Math and in Reading; percentage of tests below standard; and percentage of tests not written.