On Saturday the new primary school in Stromness had an open day so folk could get a chance to see the new facilities because the school children and staff moved in during the next week or so. The current school is in the town but is no longer "fit for purpose" as the current phrase has it. So a new one had to be built with funding from the Scottish Government. The site chosen was very controversial due to it's proximity to a roundabout, ferry traffic and being below "sea level" potentially prone to flooding if there are exceptionally high tides and the wind in the "wrong" direction. However the local Orkney Islands Council chose to go ahead with building on the site.
As you can see above it fronts onto the sea and looks out to Stromness Harbour and town. Will the children be distracted by the view? Dreaming of going to sea? Playing along the shore? Or simply take it for granted as their home where they grow up?
Inside the new school is light, bright and airy with all the state-of-the-art facilities including computerised screens instead of "blackboards". It probably dates me but I remember the old chalk blackboards that the teacher would write upon!
Though there are more traditional boards (white boards now) and notice boards etc and lots of storage
The nursery has washing facilities and a kitchen, as well as mats for the children to sit on to listen to stories, and wee tables and chairs. I want to go to nursery!!
There is also a gym and a canteen for the children to have school dinners (shudder - oh how I remember those!). Though on Saturday they were serving tea/coffee and delicious homebakes.
There are lots of bright indoor areas, some for art, some for music, and some for activities if the weather is too bad to go outdoors. Outside there are courts to play formal games of football or netball on, and informal places for the children to play. Winding stone walls with seats on top, sheltered spots and my favourite for the nursery area - a wooden caterpillar to climb upon. Hmm think I want one of these in my garden!
Five of the Graemsay children will be attending this school when it opens in a week or so. I'm sure they'll store up lots of memories during their time there. There were ex-children of the "old school", walking around with children of their own, reminiscing about their old school and how great this one was. Though the "old" school was only build in the 1960s! Times change and the building hasn't worn well so that will become offices while the new school welcomes the latest generation of children.
There are still doubts among folk about how well the new building will cope with the challenges of location and wind. Teachers and staff are eager to see how it works with the children in it too. Time will tell.
This is the stained glass picture that welcomes folk in the entrance hall representing some of the landmarks of the town and surrounding area.