PLC Armidale have celebrated the opening of their new junior school library and classroom.
The ceremony was attended by a colourful display of book characters, who also entertained with a concert by the Junior Strings, a song by the 3-6 Choir and skit from Winnie The Pooh by a clever drama group. The buildings were officially opened at a Recognition Ceremony by Honourable Richard Torbay on 5 April. Attending the Ceremony were parents, members of the PLC Community and dignitaries from the Armidale community, including Mayor Peter Ducat. In addressing the gathering, Head of School Debra Kelliher especially welcomed the PLC parents and their daughters, all of whom will work so hard in these lovely buildings and bring them to life.
The library and the new classroom block have been made possible by generous funding from the Building the Education Revolution funding, seeking to obviate the effects of the global financial crisis on Australia by providing building work for educational projects.
“While there have been many stories in the media of wasted funds, I can assure you this funding was wonderful for this school and this region, and we managed the funds very carefully,” said Debra Kelliher, Head of School. “Australia, because of the innovative initiative of the government, weathered the crisis better than many nations. PLC has a permanent set of buildings, which we would have waited a long time for without the assistance.”
In designing the library and classrooms, Architect Geoff Deane was conscious of the need to pull this area together and unify what was a bare and huge expanse of land. The brief was to create a library which was light filled, dramatic from Crest Road and that would preserve the trees along the fence line where the little girls like to play. The school community are delighted with the result.
Melissa Watters, Head of Junior School said, “The physical environment has a profound impact on the capacity for children to learn, access information and facilitate social interaction. The rooms have been designed with flexible floor plans that allow for the creation of many learning spaces. We want learning spaces where students feel safe, secure, challenged and stimulated. These spaces enable differentiated teaching practices, flexible groupings of students and shared learning areas. The rooms open onto paved outdoor areas that link to our playground.”
Year 4 teacher Catherine Pegg describes the workspace as amazing: “It has been amazing to work in an area like this with the girls. An element of quality teaching is varying the workspace and the activities to suit the individual needs of the students, and in this space, I have been able to do this with ease. A permanent wet area, reading corners, a large floor work area, separate group work areas, a large board work area and an outside verandah, have meant that many different activities can occur throughout the day effectively and smoothly. It also means that the girls can have work-in-progress without the need to pack up after each session.”
The most important voice is that of the 22 Year 4 girls who work in the bright new space each day. Some of the girls’ comments are here for your enjoyment.
“This year we have created our own drinks, had a lunch box challenge, made sushi and sandwiches /wraps and even read a great book called Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, all in this wonderful bright space. I particularly enjoyed having a recycled garment fashion show. We made our own recycled garment and portfolio that we presented to the class. At the end, we had a fashion show to present it to our parents.”
“The area is comfortable, spacious and it is normally quiet and calm. I find it very cheerful, because of all the bright paintings. I really like this classroom, and it feels like home!”
“I enjoy working in our space. It feels more like you are outside instead of being in a classroom. My mind feels clear, and I can work effectively. I especially enjoyed the fashion parade to show off our recycled garments to our families.”
“I have particularly enjoyed the fashion parade and making the recycled art garment. Writing advertising for our drinks was fun. The space is comfortable, with lots of room and working areas. It feels friendly and colourful because of all the amazing art work.”
“It is very comfortable to have lots of different working spaces and to have a sink, so we do not have to go to the main building to wash up. It is so very spacious – not squishy or claustrophobic. There are lots of windows; they let in natural light, and I can see what is going on outside. I really like this large and colourful classroom. I loved turning our class room into a catwalk and modelling our homemade outfit made of recycled items.”
“Our new learning environment is spacious and comfortable. In winter it has heaters, and in summer we can open the windows and we have fans. It is interesting looking at posters and reading signs on the walls. I like looking at all the bright colours.”