As signalled last year, the St Mary’s College Proprietors Board has been preparing for the refurbishment of the Mother Benedict block in 2021. I am pleased to inform you that this project has commenced, and the MB block and surrounding site is being prepared over the April school holidays.
This centrally located block dates from the 1970’s and will be modernised to bring it to current building code, attain a higher seismic rating and deliver a completely new interior that facilitates current education practices, provide flexible learning spaces and adds multipurpose outside teaching opportunities.
The refurbishment project will achieve multi-level connection between this block, the Sr Marcienne Kirk Centre, and the Library. Better people-flow and accessibility for all will be achieved via a new lift structure, spacious lobbies and covered walkways interconnecting these buildings. Exterior work will see the addition of spacious decks and the improvement of shared spaces around the MB block. Due to the central position on our site, the upgrade to the MB block needs to be completed to enable the eventual development of the “Heart of the School” - the plaza between the MB block, PK Gym and tennis courts. Currently, this area accommodates two prefab buildings which will be removed at the end of the refurbishment. Concept plans are in the early stages of preparation for this important part of the school.
You will notice the entire building will be “shrink wrapped” to provide both a visual barrier and an all-weather building site. The decision to incur this significant cost is also to control the site as the asbestos containing sun shades will need to be unbolted from the exterior of the building and disposed of. The project duration is 150 working days and expected to be complete in mid-November. In practical terms, the Social Sciences, Technology, Learning Centre and English Faculties will enjoy this block for the first time from Term 1, 2022.
The Proprietors Board recognises that due to the number of teaching spaces becoming temporarily unavailable, there will be operational disruptions in 2021. Our Principal, Ms Sarah Dwan, and the Senior Leadership Team have achieved a timetable that allows all subjects and classes to operate within alternative, existing spaces onsite. Sometimes these spaces may be smaller than what staff and students are used to, but this inconvenience is required to achieve the end goal. I thank everybody for their co-operation and patience while this takes place.
This project is a significant financial investment in the ongoing development of the school. To continue delivering high quality builds for our staff and 1,000+ young Mercy women we rely on the contributions to the Proprietors and Building Fund. Property maintenance funding received from the Ministry of Education covers only a small part of such a project. We ask all our families to contribute to these and it is an expectation made clear at point of enrolment. I thank all those who contribute (over 90% of our families) and to those who have already paid this year’s contributions in full.
On behalf of the Board of Proprietors, I wish you all the best for Term 2 and beyond.
Ngā mihi maioha
From Arjen Van Helsdingen, Chairperson Board of Directors