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New opportunities . . . Duntroon School pupils (back row, from left) Tate Hamilton (5), Boh Hamilton (6), Lara Brennan (6); (front row, from left) Henry Tremewan (6), Sadie McLachlan (7), Hazel Wills (7), Sofia Waterston (6) and Ida Mangmee (7) show off the muffins they made in the school's new technology space to principal Mike Turner (back). PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

An old dental clinic at Duntroon School has been given a new lease of life.

After being unused for its original purpose for decades, the old dental clinic has been transformed into a technology room and work space for the school’s 81 pupils.

Duntroon School principal Mike Turner said the board of trustees had considered selling the building and removing it from the school grounds, because it had become a dumping ground and “an eyesore”.

But when the need for a better science technology space at the school was identified, a new plan was hatched and work started to convert the building into a technology room with cooking facilities in October last year.

It officially opened last month and the cooking facilities had been well-used, Mr Turner said.

Pupils had been busy making muffins, brownies and nachos in the first few weeks.

“There was some interesting following of the recipes,” he said.

“But this is what it’s all about. This is an opportunity for them to get in here, follow a recipe, have a go – and they can take that stuff they learn home.”

The new break-out classroom had been named “Tuhura”, which translated as “to discover”, and it had created a “real buzz” at the school, Mr Turner said.

“We thought that was an appropriate name,” he said.

“It’s a small-scale project when you look at some other schools, but for us it’s a big deal – a really big deal.”

Year 7 and 8 pupils would still travel to Oamaru Intermediate School for technology learning opportunities that smaller rural schools could not provide, he said.

“But for the rest of the school . . . this is an opportunity for them to do the same sort of thing.”

The project was funded by the Ministry of Education, as part of the school’s five-year agreement for modernisation.

“It’s just the first project of a few we’ve got planned.”

A school playground redevelopment was also getting under way next week. It had been designed by the pupils and would also benefit the wider community, Mr Turner said.