St Mary’s Corowa students are buzzing with excitement after recently returning to their newly refurbished classrooms following a fire on the last day of term two.
The fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, tore through one of the second level classrooms and smoke and water affected nearby rooms.
The 60-year-old building was still structurally sound but the inside of the fire affected classroom was gutted.
Principal Glenn McMahon said the students were over the moon to be back in their original classrooms and made remarks such as: “it’s good to be back home” and said they love the new colours of the paint and carpet.
“There was a lot of excitement two weeks ago when we moved back in,” he said.
“It involved the year three, four and five students because as part of the works they have all been relocated at different times to do the work.
“They were over the moon to be back in their rooms and just love being back in their own space.”
The school made use of the music and art room which were turned into classrooms during the refurbishment.
Mr McMahon said it was important to look for a positive out of something negative like the fire.
For this reason the school took the opportunity to make some significant changes to the affected classrooms, including opening them up to include a contemporary open learning space.
“We looked for what opportunities presented to us, so as part of our overall planning of how we want our learning spaces to look like, it was an opportunity to create the new contemporary open learning space for our students and really turn a negative into a positive,” Mr McMahon said.
“Before the fire the year three and four classrooms were separate and they were confined by four walls.
“Now the classrooms include archways into other learning spaces so that the year three and four students can be integrated.
“It’s great because we can now create bigger learning spaces and the students can interact more in a larger space.
“All furniture is on wheels to create different spaces when needed.”
“The plan next year is to continue the refurbishments we have done this year and to make the down stairs building a flexible learning space as well.”
The refurbishment also included all new windows which are tinted and double glazed.
“The new windows will make a huge difference with heating and cooling,” Mr McMahon said.
“We are trying to be as energy efficient as we can be.”
The school will have an official re-opening ceremony on December 4 to thank the Catholic Schools Office for their support, everyone who contributed to the refurbishment and will involve a tour for parents, grandparents and other visitors.
“All of the staff and students have been so resilient throughout the whole process and, in particular, when they have been out of their rooms and had to move as part of the building process, they have all adapted incredibly well,” Mr McMahon said.
“We must thank all members of the community who continue to show their support for us as we have moved on.
“The tradespeople worked so hard on this refurbishment, work started in the first week of the term three school holidays and all the local tradesmen involved have done an amazing job to have the kids back in within six weeks.”