A stark contrast from years past after its west wing was cowardly destructed by arson in October 2013. Students had to learn under a marquee in 2014, a movable classroom and adjust to small study spaces.
The school is resilient, although it has indeed been through the distressing phases of arson attacks. It has ploughed on, on a journey that celebrated the long awaited opening of the new block yesterday, with a solemn blessing.
Addressing the audience, deputy prime minister Mark Brown said, “From a period of tragedy and destruction, we have been able to see the completion of new modern classrooms for the school.”
“Education is one of the greater things we know is important, the value of education for our children is something we made a commitment to,” he said.
The students now have an attachment to the building, having witnessed the construction from its beginning.
Principal Delaney Yaqona said, “Since the laying of its foundation, the formation of the brick walls, the kids have seen the production stages until its completion.”
The block houses the science laboratory, English, Mathematics and Religious study rooms.
On February 2006 part of the school was struck by its first fire, later that year the block was rebuilt with funds supplied by the New Zealand government through the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.
Then in 2013 another fire ravaged the school’s west wing, including five classrooms (Year 9, 10 and 11), three resource rooms, a science lab, the tuck-shop and a store.
In addition, land issues had to be dealt with when the 99-year lease expired in November 2014. After negotiations with government, the school, church committee and the landowners, a figure was agreed to by all parties for the compensation to the landowners for the “warranting of the land” in 2018.