Walls up at new Tarawera school site
6 February 2015
TARAWERA High School’s new the administration block is rapidly taking shape as staff and students prepare to move in at the end of term two.
Construction on the new school buildings began at the end of 2014 and when students returned this year the central administration block was the first to have walls and a roof.
Principal Helen Tuhoro said she toured the site on Tuesday and gained her first view of the block with internal framing.
“I was able to see the new staffroom and the sick bay, which are starting to take shape.
It’s very exciting.”
Stage one, built to the left of the old site, will also include a performing arts centre, hospitality block and the first of the new learning commons.
Mrs Tuhoro said the construction teams were lucky to have experienced a run of warm dry days, which meant they were able to continue working and keep the project on track.
She said some students had observed the progress over the holidays but many spent summer away from Kawerau and were surprised by what had occurred since the end of 2014.
“My window sits where the kids come into school, so I’ve heard comments over the last couple of days like ‘wow look at that,’ so they are quite surprised.”
Students and staff would move into the new site at the end of term two in June, which also marked the next stage of construction, beginning in term three.
Every building in the old college contains asbestos and deconstruction of a number of remaining blocks will begin in the school holidays, while students and teachers are away.
The gym, library and former K-Block will remain and the next buildings are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Mrs Tuhoro said community hui were planned prior to demolition as a mark of respect and an acknowledgment of the people who passed through the school over the past 50 years.
“There is a lot of history,” she said.
“It’s about being respectful and showing care for those people who have made Kawerau the place it is today, and some of these are quite significant from an education point of view, too.”
Next week eight eucalyptus trees at the back of the school, planted by the foundation members of Kawerau College, will be felled to make way for a multisport AstroTurf.
However, the trees will remain part of the school after they are turned into tables and chairs by students.
The new physical surrounds and increased digital technology also meant changes in the style of teaching.
Mrs Tuhoro said the first few months in the learning commons would require trial and error as learning and furniture was customised to best suit students’ needs.
She said professional development last year was directed toward this modern learning environment and senior teachers had already moved to tailor teaching methods for students.
“Our theory is we take what’s in the text book and turn it into what’s happening in the community.”
One example was the school’s chemistry classes, which worked with Carter Holt Harvey last year to investigate the chemicals used in treating wood, and understanding why or how this worked.
This learning was localised, authentic and real, she said.
Toward the end of the building process Mrs Tuhoro expected students would take part in smaller finishing projects.
Other changes included a revitalised school logo, a new uniform for year 13 student, and a website and blog, which were almost ready to launch.
Source: Whakatane Beacon