Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to build a temporary school

Last week I was amazed at just what can be done in about six weeks. A temporary school has been built to house Lucy's school since their old building is right in the middle of the red zone. They brought prefabs down from the North Island and a big ashphalt pad has been poured in the middle. Decks have been built connecting all the rooms, a toilet block plumbed in, paths, grass and a driveway. No portaloos was one of the requests from the students so they are very happy with the toilets. It is fantastic. There are still finishing touches going on like shade cloth being put up over the decking and sometimes there are issues still to be ironed out, like power was lost to one room on the first day and heating in one classroom didn't work as planned but considering the monumental task that has been done in such a short time - it is incredible. We met one of the local residents who also had watched in disbelief at the speed of assembly.
In one of the rooms, the blackboard has a massive "Kia Kaha" written in chalk, messages of support from theschool it came from and all the names from kids at that school. It was cool to see and had far more heart I think than the free little Toy Story army sets, Lego sent the school kids because of the loss of their school.
Furniture from the school came out of the old school in the CBD - which was very exciting and also a little weird. Lucy's little tote tray with the sign she had made only a few weeks before the February quake. In her tote tray was her books and her pencil case. We also got her bag back with her rain jacket and her drink bottle. There was a card, another girl in her class had made for her that day, before the quake hit. Seeing these things nearly made me cry. I think, it was, as my friend Rose said, they were from a different time. It is a time we can never go back to and we are different people now. It was so nice to get them back and life has felt more normal since - packing Lucy's own bag and going to her own school - not sharing with another.
There are ramifications though. The temporary school is leased land and it is definitely until the end of the year but I am not sure after that. A permanent school has been talked about on the outskirts of the CBD but I can imagine building a permanent place will take quite a while longer than six weeks.
The school they were at last term is for low intelligent kids with loads of support to help make their lives successful. The high school is still sharing this site so only a few of those kids could come back to their school. I asked the principal what happened to the rest and they have been mainstreamed with support - a far cry I would have thought from the residential school that they had been used to a term ago. They come from families all over New Zealand. I don't know that it is fair that these kids, already disadvantaged are having their lives so affected by this earthquake, when their school was essentially fine. Earthquakes are very far from fair.


karyn said...

Great post Fiona. I so relate to what you are saying, as do so many other people I'm sure. And I have also been worried about what has happened to the kids from Halswell Residential. It seems sad that we have all come in and 'taken' their school. I hope they get it back again soon.

Fiona S said...

yeah me too.

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.