by KATHLEEN CASEY
It was a landmark event as parents, parish community, invited guests and 350 children gathered for the opening of a brand new Christchurch school, designed for up to 500, which offers large spaces for flexible learning.
St Francis of Assisi School at Mairehau, its building necessitated by earthquakes, was opened on February 12. Catholic Education director Mike Nolan spoke, followed by board chair Alison Wilkie and principal Jo Earl.
The Vicar for Education and the bishop’s designate, Fr John Adams, acknowledged the long journey that had brought the project to fruition with the difficulties and challenges on the way, and he thanked the parents for their faithfulness.
The state-of-the-art school was a secure homecoming for some children who had moved to three other sites since the earthquakes and its construction followed the closure of St Paul’s School, originally Dallington, and Our Lady of Fatima School, Mairehau.
Fr Adams then presented Mrs Earl with a framed papal blessing for the school and all moved outside to see him cut the ribbon and declare the school officially open.
The children released balloons and a number of white doves and there followed the singing of the school song, “Lord make me a channel of your peace”.
Deputy principal Maire Bowler said of the opening: “It was lovely, respectful and simple. There was a happy buzz and we were very proud of the children, who were so well behaved and quiet.”