Christchurch pupils ready to get back to normal

End of site-sharing for schools

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2011
DISPLACED: Linwood College pupils Harry Loughnan, 16, looks forward to being back at the school next term.
DON SCOTT/ The Press
DISPLACED: Linwood College pupil Harry Loughnan, 16, looks forward to being back at the school next term.

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Life for hundreds of Christchurch pupils will return to normal next term as tomorrow marks the end of site-sharing for two city secondary schools.

Linwood College and Catholic Cathedral College will return to their sites on August 1, more than five months after the February 22 earthquake forced them to look for alternative premises.

Linwood pupils have been attending afternoon classes at Cashmere High School, and Catholic Cathedral College has taken the afternoon shift at St Thomas of Canterbury College in Riccarton.

Repairs at both schools will allow them to return after the two-week school holidays that start next week.

Site-sharing has meant pupils faced long commutes and a condensed timetable, losing about an hour's teaching time every day.

Linwood deputy principal Catherine Brandt said the situation had been taxing on everyone, and teachers and pupils were tired, but that was typical in Christchurch at the moment.

"If you said to any one of us this was going to happen, I don't think any one of us would have believed it would have worked, and worked so successfully," she said.

Linwood College pupil Harry Loughnan, 16, said it had been a 45-minute drive to Cashmere each day from his Clifton Hill home.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to a normal timetable and getting home when it's still light," he said.

Another pupil, Shaneel Nath, 18, said site-sharing had motivated him because there was less time to do things, so he worked harder.

Judah Maier, 17, said he had enjoyed being able to sleep in, but was looking forward to having his afternoons back.

Sandra O'Hara has been driving her daughter, a year 9 Linwood pupil, to and from Cashmere each day.

Her daughter would normally have walked to school from their Bromley home.

Brandt said extensive strengthening work was being completed at Linwood to make the buildings safe, but the school would not be able to use its hall.

It had been thought the school might need to use temporary classrooms, but it was able to reoccupy its buildings.

Cashmere principal Mark Wilson said site-sharing had been disruptive for the school's 1650 pupils and 200 staff, but he had been happy to open the school to Linwood because he hoped they would do the same for Cashmere if it was in a similar position.

"Having close to 3000 people here every day has been really hard on wear and tear in the school."

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Both schools had a friendly rivalry, and while there had been the occasional case of graffiti, there had been no fights, he said.

"There has been remarkable goodwill from the students, the parents and the communities both of Cashmere and Linwood."

Cathedral College staff will return to the school on August 1 to set up classrooms, and most pupils will return the next day.

College principal Bruce Henley said three of the college's key buildings, which included 12 classrooms, the library and administration block, could not be used because they were within the fall zone of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Barbadoes St.

The unstable rear section of the cathedral would be deconstructed by September 16, so Henley hoped to be able to use all the school's buildings by the start of term four on October 25.

Six schools continue to share

Site-sharing is about to end for two Christchurch schools, but the disruption continues for six others.

Thousands of pupils were displaced after the February 22 earthquake when 11 schools had to find temporary locations.

Three schools – Heaton Normal Intermediate, St Mary's and Cathedral Grammar – have already returned to their original sites.

Linwood College and Catholic Cathedral College will return at the beginning of term three on August 1.

Shirley Boys' High had been due to join them, but the June 13 quakes meant it would stay at Papanui High for another four weeks.

Other schools still sharing include Marian College at St Bede's, Avonside Girls' High at Burnside High, Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti at Halswell Residential College, and Discovery One primary school, which is operating from temporary classrooms put on bare land in Halswell.

St Paul's School in Dallington, the only school in the residential red zone, is working from the former Champion St special school site.

Education Minister Anne Tolley confirmed last week that Avonside Girls' High and Shirley Boys' High would return to their home sites, but only for up to two years. Both schools border the orange zone, where the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has yet to say whether rebuilding could occur.

Avonside Girls' High will return to its site at the start of the 2012 school year.

Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti director John Mather said the school would share with Halswell Residential College for some time yet.

The school had suffered setbacks in retrieving essential resources and equipment from its central-city site, but he hoped to gain entry during the school holidays.

The school had been able to borrow desks from Linwood College, which needed them back, he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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