Shirley principal dismisses closure talk
Shirley Boys' High School principal John Laurenson has dismissed a proposal to merge the school with Christchurch Boys' High School as ''absurd nonsense".
Laurenson said Christchurch Boys' High School was simply not equipped to cope with the influx of student.
''We are not going to merge for the most practical reason. I have 1300 students in the school, I think Trevor McIntyre at Christchurch Boys' will have something similar.''
''To simply say that Shirley closes and suddenly Christchurch Boys' High School is equipped to double in size is absurd. They don't have the land, they don't have the infrastructure. It's nonsense.''
Laurenson attended a meeting this morning held by the ministry and said a summary sheet released by them was ''grossly misleading".
''It appeared to tell the community that Shirley Boys' High School was going to close and be merged with Christchurch Boys' High School.''
Laurenson said he was ''very cross'' with the day's events.
He said the announcement had only managed to ''deeply hurt my community and my people''.
''That simple misinformation that came out has been quite devastating,'' he said.
''What has happened is an example of NCEA Level One not achieved - the information that went out is misleading and it's been picked up by media people and suddenly it's viral. We're now telling the community 'relax all is well and the ministry is busy retracting a vague statement'.''
Laurenson said the media person for the ministry had spoken with him and a number of other principals and accepted it had been misleading.
"This has been really hurtful. I want Hekia Parata and John Key and the people in the media and area of responsibility to actually understand the community in Christchurch I'm part of is bleeding. It's not in Wellington or Auckland, it's in eastern Christchurch and it is bleeding.
"So when you get something like this - I think that's apalling. I think it's insenstive. I don't want any apologies for it, I just want them to know how difficult it is to hold things together."
Laurenson said the school would ''definitely not be closing''.
''Their proposals, and there are a number of them, contain a number of eventualities ... To have as an option merge the two, it's not an option. You can't merge the two.''
He had called an emergency meeting to discuss the matter with staff and would address students tomorrow.
''Now I've got to take a whole bunch of traumatised boys and say: 'Listen guys, you've still got a school and it's going to be here for a long time yet','' he said.
''I just need to make my community understand Shirley is viable and will continue to do so. We're talking about a viable school.''
However, he did say Shirley Boys' would have to ''substantially rebuilt''.
''The only question that exists is are we going to be rebuilt on our site or do we have to find a new site to be rebuilt. We don't know that yet because the land report is not available yet.''
Shirley Boys' pupils fear fights
Students at Shirley Boys' High School were shocked to learn this afternoon the school may merge with Christchurch Boys' High School.
Some students said they were concerned a merger with the fellow single sex school - a long-established rival - could spark fights.
Year 12 student Henry Bates said Shirley had an existing rivalry with Boys' High. "I think there will be a bit of trouble...a couple of scraps. Stuff could go down.
"The fights have kinda died down but this will bring it up again."
He was also concerned about the sports teams merging. "Some people could miss out now and that could cause a few fights through rugby."
Year 12 student Ben Mayo said the school had already "had enough" after sharing with Papanui High School after the earthquakes.
"It was ok but we really wouldn't want to do it long term."
The group agreed Christchurch Boys' would be their last choice for a school to merge with.
"We already have boys we need some girls. Why can't it be a girls school?"
Year 12 student Adam Green was worried there wouldn't be space for the extra students. "We hardly have enough room for ourselves," he said.
Fellow year 12 student Lorenz Arnigo agreed. "We've already got 1500 boys. There's not really any space."
However, deputy head boy Stephen Lefebvre, 18, supported a merger.
"I think it would actually be good to have even though some boys think will think it will cause scraps or sparks or whatever. I think it will be good to create friendships and teaching."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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