Rod O'Leary South End School - facelift

BIG DEAL: South End School principal Rod O'Leary stands in front of the school's senior block which is about to get a $660,000 makeover.

2012 is set to be a huge year for South End School.
Times-Age reporter Kerri Bowling caught up with school principal Rod O’Leary to find out why.

Not only will the Carterton-based school undergo major construction work worth in excess of half a million dollars, but during Easter weekend it will also celebrate its 50th birthday with a reunion.

Rod, who plans to retire from teaching after Easter, says he received notification from the Education Ministry on December 22 approving funding for $660,000 which will be used to rebuild and renovate the school’s senior blocks .

He says while the board still needs to work out the finer details, plans for the current four-classroom senior block – which also houses the school’s two Montessori classes – include being reconfigured into a three-classroom block that will include a central toilet block.

“We’ve (the school board) been sitting on a quarter of a million dollars since 2008 when we received our first lot of capital funding, but couldn’t do anything with it because we knew we needed more to meet the various building deficiencies. The senior block doesn’t meet the fire and glass codes which were upped following the Christchurch earthquakes.”

“Basically the classrooms will be completely gutted internally. By knocking out the toilets and cloakroom bays and building a central toilet block, it means we will be able to create larger learning spaces.”

The former Toy Library building which is also on the school site, will be revamped and renovated and used as a classroom.

Rod says the final part of the exercise will be the demolition of the junior block, and an asphalt court laid. “It’s definitely exciting times ahead for the school, and that coupled with a change in senior leadership – the future looks very rosy.”

Plans are well under way for the school’s 50th reunion being held over Easter weekend (April 6 and 7). Former teachers, students and families associated with the school are invited to attend a meet and greet evening on Good Friday night. Celebrations on Saturday will include a lunchtime picnic, picture opportunities and will end with a dinner in the school hall.

Maureen Leach, from the Carterton District Historical Society, is writing the history of South End School and says the school was built on the site of what was known as “the old brick school” – the Carterton District High School, built in 1905. It was later demolished after Kuranui College opened in 1960.

According to Maureen, South End School was built over the Christmas period of 1961 and opened in time for the new school year in 1962 with three teachers – Judy Oliver, Leo Jago, Heather Taylor. The first principal was Harry Claughton.
While Maureen has all the school minutes and records to research, she would also love to feature former students/ teachers’ recollections and achievements in the book.

To contact Maureen phone 379-9021. To find out more about the reunion phone the school office, 379-4000.