Business North August 2022

104 | Edgecumbe College Redevelopment COMMUNITY Momentum builds on College upgrade Virginia Wright The Edgecumbe College swimming pool is getting an $800,000 makeover. Edgecumbe College is in the Eastern Bay of Plenty on the shores of the Rangitaiki River in the Whakatane District. Like the town it’s named for it serves the surrounding agricultural and horticultural communities: mainly dairy farmers and horticulturalists growing kiwifruit, blueberries and other crops that enjoy the local climate and soil conditions. The college currently has 180 students enrolled from Years 9 through to 13 and shares fields with the next-door primary school which caters for Years 1 to 8. School Principal Mike Jackson joined Edgecumbe College in 2020. Part of his role is to grow the school in terms of numbers but also internally. In the first instance that means a serious and immediate upgrade of resources and buildings which, thanks to a combination of natural disasters and neglect, were in such a state when Mike first arrived that he wondered if the school was set for closure. “I was amazed to see the school in such poor condition, but I was assured by the Ministry that it wasn’t due to be closed,” says Mike. “There was the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake which smashed the town and the school. There were the floods in 2004 which flooded the school and again in 2017. We’ve had only minor fixups over that time so it was in a fairly poor state of repair,” explains Mike. “In the last five to 10 years, the Ministry have been working with the school on plans to revitalise the school but up until recently it’s been a very slow process.” Things have sped up markedly with the arrival of a new principal determined to give the community the school they deserve and to fight for the well-being of his students, but he’s quick to point out that he’s not working alone. “I have to acknowledge the huge amount of work and time that the two board chairs Ashlee Sturme and Matt McBeth have put into the school and continue to put in. It’s their support that makes what I do possible,” says Mike. Mike’s been a principal before and with a background in youth charity work as well as teaching in both junior and senior high schools he’s embracing Edgecumbe as both an opportunity and a challenge to make a difference for the students there. The first challenge being to see classrooms brought up to standard, especially ones that have had nothing done for 60 years. New geo-tech information revealing that the school is on two fault-lines means there’s no question of a complete rebuild so the plans currently being worked through focus instead on keeping the timber buildings, which have already proven themselves to be structurally sound in the event of an earthquake. The intended works have been split into minor and major with the minor works getting underway as rapidly as possible, including working through current health and safety requirements. With one block done and another underway, the intention is that by September all pupils will be walking into a whole new learning environment. “They’ve completely gutted the classrooms, relined them, carpet on the floor, new paint, new blinds all that sort of stuff,” says Mike. “Nothing structural but everything to make the classrooms new and fresh inside, as they should be. They’re big spaces with high ceilings, when they’ve been modernised they’re fantastic!” Avoiding any change to the outside envelope of the buildings, the major works will then bring the school into the 21st century with comprehensive plans to modernise the teaching environment in terms of flexible classroom spaces, Information and Community Technology hubs (increasingly important in the hard materials industries working with wood and metal), bringing the music suite up to spec with break out rooms and practice spaces, and so on. The swimming pool is getting an $800,000 makeover turning it into a valuable community resource. For the last year and a half the school have also been working hard to fundraise locally with organisations like Lions, Southern Trust, Grassroots and the like. “We’re doing as much as we can off our own bat to raise standards for the school. We’ve raised enough money to buy chrome Proud to be part of the Edgecumbe College Redevelopment 25 Reynolds Place, Papamoa FULL SUPPLY & INSTALLATION OF QUALITY CARPETS & VINYLS Proudly supporting Edgecumbe College Redevelopment  General Electrical Repairs and Maintenance  New Connections  New Houses and Alterations  Commercial Electrical - New and Alterations  Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems  Data Network Installations  Solar Installs