Our school has just been through a series of renovations to bring it up to scratch. Of course, this has nothing to do with a pending election and the fact that we are in a swinging seat: don’t be cynical.
And there is absolutely no link to the number of local politicians who have come to the school to be photographed shaking the principal’s hand out the front of the impressive performing arts building and to make awkward conversation with students about the new facilities. No, none at all.
It is all about increasing our enrolments. In fact, local primary schools are being paraded through our new buildings — and skilfully navigated past the old buildings — at a previously unheard-of rate. This is all very exciting, of course, but, not every part of the new design has turned out as well as we would have liked.
New science laboratories, kitchens, tech rooms and art rooms all have an impressive shell to them but are filled with the remnants and relics from the old buildings. Nothing quite says juxtaposition like a state-of-the-art science wing filled with technology that was cutting edge in the late '70s.
There are also ghost-like parts of wings and corridors yet to be completed, caged in behind temporary fencing and providing a welcome refuge for the local possum and rodent populations. Needless to say, this is not a feature of the many school tours.
When teaching in the new buildings, your classroom can, with no notice, become an impromptu meeting space for architects, builders and OH&S personnel conducting final site inspections. This can be quite off-putting and is a great distraction for students.
Even more distracting is the constant “finishing off” of things that involves drilling into walls. It is hard enough to make yourself heard over a bunch of teenagers but when you add a drill into the mix it is almost impossible.
The day the portables were removed will go down in history as a great sight to behold. The entire carpark was taken up with vehicles to receive the unwanted rooms and manoeuvre them out of the area.
Watching a truck perform a U-turn with a full-sized classroom balanced behind it in a very tight space had senior students glued to the windows of the library, anticipating disaster.
“He’s going to take out the fence!”
“Look at him! He’s cornering like a beast!”
“My Dad can’t do a U-turn in that carpark and he drives a Barina!”
“They’re going to stack! Look out!”
With the build reaching the end it is great not to have the builders’ choice of radio station blaring whilst trying to teach and it is certainly a relief to have modern classrooms that don’t have a temperature akin to Antarctica or a tropical island — but there was something bonding about watching the whole thing take place out of the classroom window. I vote we keep building.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.