Long time coming . . . Excited about the new $350,000 Five Forks School upgrade are pupils (from left) Lachie Farmer, Emma Dodd (both 13) and Henry Smith (12). PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

In a world where many things are being cancelled, Five Forks School is thrilled to be able to finally move forward.

The rural North Otago primary school is preparing to get its $350,000 classroom, bathroom and cloak room rebuild and upgrade under way, after work has been in the pipeline for about 10 years.

Breen Construction Oamaru will start on stage one of the project, the senior classroom, on December 6. Stage two, the junior classroom, and stage three, the bathrooms and cloak room, would follow.

Five Forks principal Belinda Brosnan said the school was “long overdue” for an upgrade. Current Five Forks teacher Alice Kingan was a pupil at the school during the last revamp in the late 1990s.

The new classrooms would have sliding glass doors opening on to the covered deck, creating an indoor-outdoor flow for the “country kids”, and maximising connectivity and learning opportunities. There would also be quiet zones with modern furnishing for an innovative environment, Mrs Brosnan said.

“We’re very excited because it matches with our modern, flexible, innovative learning space, and for these kids they love being outdoors and it’s got that opportunity to pull back the doors and they can work outside,” Mrs Brosnan said.

Allowing children to learn outdoors was huge for Five Forks’ 48 year 1 to 8 pupils.

“To be at one with nature is awesome.”

The children were “ecstatic” to be getting new carpet, as the present flooring had holes in it, and Mrs Brosnan said many had been waiting since they started school for the project to begin.

“What’s really nice in a world where everything’s cancelled for us to be able to continue on and have this for our children to look forward to.”

Discussions surrounding the rebuild began about 10 years ago, and drawings and plans had been in place for about five years, she said.

But Five Forks had to accumulate the money it received through the years from the Ministry of Education’s 10-year property plan to cover the projected cost.

“We’ve had to save up a long time.”

Stage one was expected to be completed by early next year, and stage two would begin shortly after. Learning would not be disrupted during the period, Mrs Brosnan said.