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Pupils were joined by staff and parents for the outdoor assembly, held in front of the brick junior school which will be replaced with a new building as part of a $3.9 million redevelopment.
Waitaki Valley School opened in 2004 on the Kurow Area School site following the merger of the Hakataramea Valley, Otematata and Kurow schools. After five years of promises, the redevelopment is going ahead.
Mr Watherston said there had been much hard work involved and he thanked previous board chairman Tony Plunkett and his board for their input.
The board was particularly excited about what was in store for both the children and the community. While it was sad to be losing the old building, built in 1940, it was "progress", he said.
Mr Watherston said Oamaru company de Geest Construction would be the main contractor and would "do their utmost" to get the new school ready by February next year. About 90% of the old building will be recycled.
Principal Helen Blick said it was sad to lose a "wonderful building" but the school was moving forward and looking forward to having "21st-century classrooms".