PACI celebrates renovations

Physical education teacher Khris Kalika leans over some of the exercise equipment in the new weight room. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

They still call it the torture chamber.

To get there, students at Prince Albert Collegiate Institute had to navigate a dark basement hallway under the gym. The dumbbells still sit there, dusty and ancient.

Physical education teacher Khris Kalika forbade them from using the most dangerous equipment. In the end, most simply avoided weight training altogether.

On Thursday, Kalika helped celebrate the definitive end of the torture chamber. He showed off a $35,000 weight room – first opened last fall. The school also marked the spring opening of a fully renovated music room and recording studio, worth more than $50,000.

Thursday’s coffee house was a way to thank the donors who made it all possible. Alumni, parents and students gathered to watch young musicians and performers test out the new space.

Music teacher Leanne Tretiak said the renovations have been “life changing” for her students.

“It’s inspired them to become the best that they can be,” she said. As she spoke, students fiddled around with a new sound mixing board. Behind them, a sound-proof recording studio held professional-quality mics, surrounded by acoustic dampening panels.

It’s a radical transformation. The old space, Tretiak said, looked like something out of the 1920’s.

“It had carpet on the floor, carpet on the walls,” she said. “The ceiling tiles were stained and gross. It was an old space that hadn’t been renovated for a long time.”

Kalika is just as excited for his students. Finally, he boasted, they’re eager to use the machines. His personal favourite is the multifunctional trainer.

“You literally can work every muscle on your body with this piece of equipment,” he said, “every single muscle.”

While the torture chamber once evoked fear, Kalika explained, the new weight room is a popular spot for the whole student body.

“The ones who are really involved in athletics, they use it to train for whatever sport they play,” he said. “And even the ones who aren’t, they go in to blow off a little steam.”