Flaxmere College rebuild – students all but in
Walking into the almost completely rebuilt Flaxmere College, the excitement in the air is obvious!
The end of the rebuild is so close, with the new administration building already finished and two of the main buildings expected to be ready for students in just a few weeks.
In the 120m long main education block, the last of the electrics, electronics and plumbing fittings are going in. Broadly, it is divided into uneven thirds: just under a third technology, things like hard materials technology (wood, carving); more than one third general learning; and the last section devoted to science.
The building is undoubtedly beautiful: big airy spaces that are purposefully designed to enhance co-operative learning. Around those spaces, smaller machining rooms for the technology classes and breakout rooms for small-group learning ensure flexibility.
Along the length of the building, impress
ively broad decks protected by equally broad eaves provide more outdoor learning and socialising spaces.
Huge windows let in plenty of light and in the four largest areas David Trubridge light fittings, each painted on its internal facet with the colour of one of the college’s four houses, hang from vaulted ceilings. The carpet is attractive but looks tough enough (and is the right colour) to cope with
the students who will make use of it every day. Almost unseen but important is the electronic air conditioning and ventilation system, that will make the building confortable for students and teachers.
Principal Jim Hay-Mackenzie says the students will be in the main education block early next term, and they can’t wait. “This has been a long time in the planning – going back at least 10 years. The teachers and the students are really excited about moving into them.”
Student leader Dyvontei Gray had her first good look inside the new building towards the end of the term. To say she was impressed would be an understatement. The new science laboratories had this Year 13 performing arts student, who is planning on a career in the police, wishing she had taken science!
But then, the refurbishment of the school hall into a Performing Arts and Hospitality hub, also had her excited. The main hall features new stage lighting, while to the rear there are fully baffled music studios. Off to one side is a brand new impressively equipped kitchen for hospitality students, with an adjoining serving area.
The hall will also be finished early in the second term – something Dyvontei is particularly pleased about, given this is her last year at college. She will be able to enjoy the new facilities for three terms.
“I’m over the moon and can’t wait to be in here. But it’s not really about our year; it’s for our younger ones. I’m so proud of this for Flaxmere, and so glad our younger generations will get to use it.”
Once the main classroom and performing arts centre are in use, the refurbishment of the gymnasium will start, and the planning of the demolition of the old buildings can get underway.
That demolition will free up room for a dedicated outdoor space in the heart of the school; next
to the existing hard courts, for games while, a Pasifika fale and grassed areas will be perfect for lunch and socialising.
The previous administration building being redeveloped into a new home for Kowhai Special School, catering for special needs students, will be finished by the end of the year. “This will put the unit at the heart of our school. That’s important to us; that they are truly involved in school life,” says Mr Hay-Mackenzie.
Landscaping is also well underway. Thanks to funding assistance from the Flaxmere Licensing Trust, the gardens at the front of the school
have been completed. Fundraising for further landscaping is underway, given the Ministry of Education only funds paving and grass seed.
High on the wish list is a waharoa, a formal entrance to the main hall - the place where guests will be welcomed. Mr Hay-Mackenzie
says discussions with an artist and funders are underway, and he looks forward to seeing it completed and blessed.