Sara Cohen School principal Raewyn Alexander and pupil
Tyryn Duncan in their new classroom at Bathgate Park
School, Dunedin, yesterday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Getting a purpose-fitted classroom to roll around with
ease in his wheelchair was exciting for Tyryn Duncan yesterday,
but the best part of his day was definitely the cake.
''I get to eat cake today. My tummy is hungry. I love cake.''
It was clear cake was a special treat for the 13-year-old
Sara Cohen School pupil, but he had to admit his new
classroom was ''pretty awesome'' too, because until
yesterday, he had to be content with a classroom about a
quarter the size at Bathgate Park School, which was often
difficult to manoeuvre around in his wheelchair.
Sara Cohen School principal Raewyn Alexandra said thanks to
funding from the Ministry of Education, the school's two
satellite classrooms, at Bathgate Park School and Concord
School, had recently been given a $120,000 makeover.
''They were very small. We all had to breathe at the same
time so we could all fit in.''
The classrooms had been designed specially for children with
special needs, and included facilities such as special tables
for changing nappies, a special needs bathroom, and a light
and airy room with extra space for pupils in wheelchairs to
move around in.
''I love the new room. I can move around better,'' Tyryn
The classrooms would be used by six pupils at Bathgate and
three pupils at Concord next year, but could each accommodate
up to 10 pupils. Sara Cohen board of trustees chairwoman
Shelley Hill said the classrooms within Bathgate Park School
and Concord School provided their pupils the best of both
A parent of a Sara Cohen pupil with autism was concerned
about the wellbeing of her son being in a mainstream school
because she believed the school had little understanding
ofautism and had difficulty telling the difference between
autism and bad behaviour.
Since going to Sara Cohen classes, he was much calmer,
happier, and making great progress in his school work, she
The new rooms were officially opened and blessed yesterday,
followed by coffee and cake.