Richmond School - another great loss
When I was 8 or 9 we shifted to Swanns Road in Richmond. I landed up at Richmond School, which was within walking distance, surrounded by a low brick wall that I could scamper along. Being within walking distance was very important because my mother worked fulltime and we didn't have a car (not that so many people did in the 70s).
Catching buses is both a drain on resources and a scary business for children having to travel on their own. I was glad to be able to walk to school. It was at Richmond that I met my friend Helen, who, having been assigned to me as a "buddy" became my best friend.
At the time I attended Richmond it had a wonderful headmaster, Mr Cornish, who I was chuffed to remember from a previous school when I was a 5-year-old and who now introduced me to the joys of science.
I remember Richmond as sunny and green with a friendly environment, beautiful grounds, accessible buildings and a full, diverse roll.
When my daughter and I relocated to Richmond in 2012 I was relieved to be able to send my daughter to my old school, only a few blocks away. The buildings were in good condition (although some of the concrete had suffered during the quakes), the trees, the fort and the gardens were all still wonderful and the friendliness and diversity was still there, as was the dedication of the teaching staff. There was a great new playground and sand pit for the juniors as well.
To say that I was horrified when it was announced that this beautiful, historic and multicultural school was to be closed is an understatement. While I was saddened at how low the roll had become, it was obvious that this was rising and would continue to do so. I fully expected that within two to five years (depending on the speed of the housing rebuild/repair), the roll would again be full.
The unnecessary stress imposed on staff, parents and especially children by the threat of closure of so many Christchurch schools and particularly the timing so soon after a major natural disaster when stability is so incredibly important is unforgivable. I have no doubt that this wonderful community asset will, in future years, have to be re-instated on some less worthy site as the Christchurch population resettles and housing in the area is fixed.
It is the schools in Christchurch which are at the heart of each community and from which the life of the suburbs spring.
I mourn Richmond School and I dread to see what will happen to this green space whose grounds were open to the community to respectfully share after school and over the weekends.