Demolition starts at Queen Elizabeth College

Student strikes first demolition blow

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 30/05/2014
qec
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ
CRASHING DOWN: Work starts on the demolition of Queen Elizabeth College.

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Armed and ready with his hard hat, steel-capped shoes and a digger, Palmerston North teen Roman McLean did something most students could only dream of - he crushed his school.

A block of buildings at Queen Elizabeth College is being reduced to rubble as the school embarks on a $1.2 million upgrade.

Contractors were on site yesterday with a 14-tonne excavator and a to-do list which included tearing down a block of classrooms, cracking concrete and sorting salvageable material.

It would take about three days to demolish the block, and another week to separate and ship materials, Ian Butcher from Central Demolition said.

Year 13 student McLean took the first swipe at the building, breaking windows, pulling down guttering and removing sheets of iron from the roof.

The 17-year-old used to have maths, English and computing in the block when he was in year 9.

"It was exciting; the hardest thing was actually grabbing [the material], but once you got started it was good," he said.

"But it did feel quite final, because I met most of my friends in that building."

The two-storey building, nicknamed The Forties, housed about eight classrooms, computer labs and resource rooms.

It was added to the school in the mid 1970s.

Its demolition marked a step forward for the college, principal Michael Houghton said.

The school started its Ministry of Education-funded upgrade this week, aimed at creating a modern learning environment.

The project, which will occur in three stages and be completed by the middle of next year, will see a number of school buildings refurbished and about 10 structures removed.

Houghton said The Forties block was a prominent school landmark and its demolition was the end of an era for staff and students.

"There is a bit of sadness, but most people can see that it's going to be so much better," he said.

"Even with the smaller work that's been done already, you can see the big difference it's made.

"Some of the buildings have seen better days, there were ramshackle horticulture sheds and other bits and pieces that [the demolition crew are] working with and when it's all finished it will be a good environment for the students."

The upgrade will see technology teaching facilities at Queen Elizabeth College enhanced so the school can take advantage of ultrafast broadband and the role the internet plays in education.

The way students learnt had changed to a more self-directed approach, with teachers acting as facilitators, Houghton said.

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Having more technology in classrooms would mean when topics or ideas came up during class then discussions they could be explored online immediately rather than later when a computer lab was free.

- Manawatu Standard

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