A £12 million state-of-the-art primary school has been officially opened just over three years since a fire destroyed the old one.
Pupils and staff at Kinellar Primary School in Blackburn enjoyed marking the facility’s official opening yesterday, alongside invited guests including Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson, who unveiled a special commemorative plaque.
The multi-million-pound school, which was completed last year, is built over two floors and features bright and airy flexible spaces, including a glass-fronted library and learning area upstairs.
The process of building the facility was a unique experience for the more than 400 pupils, who were moved to nearby Midmill School for 18 months after their old school building was destroyed in the fire on New Year’s Day in 2016. The new school has been built on the same site as its predecessor.
Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson said he was “very proud” to mark the opening of the new primary.
He added: “A great team effort has led to the delivery of an extremely high quality building on time and on budget, and we’re thankful to everyone who has played their part in that.
“It stands testament to what a community can achieve by working together, right from those dark early days after the fire when local people rallied round to offer soup and sandwiches to staff, to the lovely reception pupils received from the community in Kintore during their time at Midmill.
“The team at RS Coaches went the extra mile by offering great kindness to the young people on their daily commute, and by all accounts, colleagues from Morrison Construction couldn’t have been more accommodating when it came to tours and learning experiences for the children.
“This is a big thumbs up to the people of Garioch.”
Specially commissioned work by several local artists is another important feature of the new school.
The artists worked with pupils to design and create a number of pieces, including a large oak tree in the dining area with leaves painted by every child.
They also created a series of acrylic panels exploring how the children felt about the identity of their community in the past, present and future.
Part of their research involved a bus tour with the artists exploring parts of the area they may have been less familiar with.
Councillor Gillian Owen, chairwoman of the education and children’s services committee, said: “It’s not only wonderful to see the pupils at Kinellar enjoying their new school but also to reflect on what a fantastic learning experience this project has given them.
“In addition to the educational opportunities – working with artists, the community and the construction team – the pupils have also learned important lessons when it comes to being resilient and flexible.
“Congratulations to head teacher Pamela Farquhar and the staff team at the school who have gone above and beyond to support the children settle in to the unfamiliar and make the most of the opportunities that come with change.”
As part of the build, the project team used the opportunity to improve facilities in the village by redeveloping a derelict tennis court and constructing an enclosed children’s play park.
The team also created additional space for parking, for use by the school as well as the local community.
Councillor Mark Findlater, vice chairman of the education and children’s services committee, said: “This fantastic new facility has been designed in such a way it is truly an inclusive place for all.
“It suits the local landscape, it benefits from fantastic design features inside and out, and those involved should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved during the last few years.”