High hopes as pupils move into Â£22.5m new school
The new Â£22.5m Kelso High School welcomed pupils for the first time on Tuesday.
Students were piped to the door of the Angraflat Road building to watch birthday pupil Ellis Murray cut a ribbon, alongside with East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, to declare it open.
The Kelso High flag, lowered for the last time at the old school a week before, was then raised by head boy Charlie Graves and head girl Aimee Martin, and its doors then opened to pupils and staff.
Ms Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for children and young people, said: “This is a significant day for the town of Kelso.
“The new high school will transform education in Kelso and will provide much-improved facilities not only for pupils but, importantly, for the whole community.”
“The previous high school had served the town well since 1939, but there is no doubt the new facility will provide additional benefits.
“I would like to congratulate the council’s project team for their considerable efforts to get the new school completed on time, as well as the local residents and Kelso Races for their co-operation during the works.
“As part of a school estates review, the council will continue to carry out considerable research and consultation so that our children and the wider community can have the best places for learning.”
Facilities at the new school include 3G sports and 2G hockey pitches as well as grass playing fields, a 100-metre sprint track, indoor gym, long-jump pit and netball court.
There’s also an eco-garden pond, space for an orchard, allotment, outdoor classroom and an arts and crafts garden.
Its headteacher of the last two years, Jill Lothian, said she was delighted to see the children making use of the new building.
“Some of them were a bit nervous about the move beforehand, but today they are all just really excited to be in,” she said.
“I wanted them to be part of this today because really it’s what is inside the school that is most important.
“The pride that the town and the young people have within their school is going to allow us to go to a new level.
“We will compete with the rest of Scotland while at the same time remaining true to the Kelso area.”
She hopes to use the school’s newly-available space to set up links with the region’s horticultural and agricultural employers as well as to work more closely with Borders College at Galashiels.
She added: “I’ve been here in my hard hat, cutting the first sod and following progress throughout, but the most exciting thing for me is seeing the children in the classrooms and using the facilities today.”
The school has been funded by the Scottish Government through its Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme, managed by the Scottish Futures Trust.
Able to accommodate up to 780 pupils, it was built by the council in partnership with Hub South East Scotland and contractor Morrison Construction.
It follows the completion of Langlee and Duns primaries in August. Kelso’s Broomlands Primary is due to open in early 2018, and the proposed Jedburgh Intergenerational Community Campus is set to follow by 2020.
Morrison Construction’s operations director, David Wilson, added: “It is a great to be at Kelso High School as pupils and staff enjoy their first day in their new school.
“This new education facility will benefit not only current and future students, but the wider community too.
“It’s also extremely encouraging to know that the project has been able to directly benefit the community, supporting six trainees, eight apprentices and creating 45 new jobs during construction.”