New gym on college’s wish list

Mount Aspiring College. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Mount Aspiring College. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Government has invested $46.5million in redeveloping Mount Aspiring College, but board of trustees chairman Dr Ian Hall wants more.

Dr Hall impressed on Education Minister Chris Hipkins during the minister’s school visit last week that future development needed to continue beyond the current classroom, theatre and library project to include a bigger gymnasium on a neighbouring council-owned reserve.

The current build is expected to be finished next year and should cater for a forecast roll of 1800.

Asked by the Otago Daily Times if he supported buying the council reserve for a new gymnasium, Mr Hipkins confirmed the Ministry of Education was talking with the council about the site and its potential for future educational use.

‘‘We hope to have clarity around the site later this year,’’ Mr Hipkins said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council communications spokesman Sam White said discussions were still at a very early stage and commercially sensitive.

Dr Hall said the current gymnasium catered for 650 pupils, but the school roll was about 1140.

The school could not meet as a whole and assemblies were split — one for seniors, another for juniors.

The council-owned reserve is the site of a former community swimming pool.

In 2017, college head prefects Campbell Russell and Mackenzie Ayres led a delegation to the Wanaka Community Board, asking that the old pool site be used for a community arts centre.

The school’s pupil leaders were excited about the new build and keen for a new gym, too.

Head prefect Meg Thomas said there had been large roll growth since she was in year seven.

‘‘We can’t fit the whole school into the gym anymore so we have to split into junior and senior assembly,’’ she said.

Co-head prefect Olive Blyth came from an Auckland school of 3000 in year 10 and initially felt Mount Aspiring College was small.

‘‘But now that I have gotten used to it I have noticed that, like Meg is saying, having assemblies that are quite split off is quite different.

‘‘So it will be great to anticipate some changes that will allow for some more flexibility and a little bit more accommodation of a larger group of students and different needs,’’ Olive said.

College board of trustees student representative Annabel Hutchison said pupils were excited about the new facilities.

‘‘Nobody loves a temporary classroom. From what I hear, everyone is really keen for the new build ... split assemblies isn’t fantastic so it will be super awesome when we have got the new builds,’’ she said.

marjorie.cook@odt.co.nz

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