BY Ryan McDougall | March 6 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

4 queen margaret opening

Deputy First Minister officially opens new Queen Margaret Academy

Depute First Minister John Swinney and Bishop William Nolan of Galloway Diocese led official opening celebrations for a Catholic school’s new building.

Pupils and staff of Queen Margaret Academy, Ayr, were joined by friends of the school including former staff, pupils and parents as their new building was officially opened on Thursday February 27.

The evening kicked off with a film made of an open day held in the former school back in June, where the community shared their experiences and memories of the building.

Pupils Rory Malcolmson of S3 and Neve Cassidy of S6 then led presentations on the 164-year history of the school, focusing on its values of community and equity.

Teachers Collette McGinley and Emily O’Hanlon, who are both former pupils, then led a talk on ambition and responsibility within the school, and finally S6 pupil Joel Gonzalez and teacher Gillian Thomson focused on the school’s Catholic Faith.

‘Wonderful’ new school

John Swinney, cabinet secretary for Educations and Skills, then gave a speech, praising the young people for their hard work, and Bishop Nolan blessed the new school building.

Headteacher Oonagh Browne said the opening was ‘wonderful’ and that Mr Swinney was ‘hugely impressed by the sense of community in the school.’

Pupils and staff have been based in the new building since October 2019, ahead of the official opening, and have been enjoying the wide range of facilities it offers.

New features

Mrs Browne said: “The new learning facility is wonderful—the opportunities it presents to us are outstanding. At the heart of the school is the oratory which is central to the school and a space used by young people not only to worship but to meet and reflect.

“The stained glass in the oratory was designed by our pupils and can be seen throughout the school.”

She added: “Personally, I don’t miss the old building. However, the memories staff and pupils have are of good times and strong community. This feeling has been transferred to the new building. If anything it has strengthened.”

Teachers ‘delighted’

Pupils, teachers and parents were heavily involved in the consultation process for the design of the £25 million new building, which can hold 800 pupils.

It boasts interactive learning environments, a large games hall, a gym, two all-weather sports pitches, a fitness suite and a host of other facilities.

On the evening of the opening, Mr Swinney tweeted: “Delighted to open the magnificent Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr this evening. Immensely talented pupils—who are a credit to their families and their school—learning in outstanding 21st-century facilities.”

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