Exciting announcement . . . Looking forward to major upgrades to St Joseph's School are (from left) the school's youngest pupil Jane Vaitohi (5), principal Lorraine Frances-Rees, head boy Lisiate Hausia (13) and head girl Hannah Fowler (12). PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

The heart of St Joseph’s School is the people, not the buildings, but principal Lorraine Frances-Rees is thrilled major changes are afoot.

Last week, the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, which owns the school, announced a commitment to fund substantial work to modernise the school’s buildings.

“This is huge news,” Mrs Frances-Rees said.

Modernisation was long overdue – there had been no major developments at the school for at least 20 years, she said.

“We have had to wait a long time for this and we are really excited about it.

“We’re just looking forward to the growth it will bring us and letting our dreams take off and take form.”

While plans were still being finalised, she anticipated the two-story block, built in 1959, would be a major focus.

“We don’t know exactly what the plans will be, or the timeline … but we know there is a commitment to substantial work.

“I’d like to see something happening within a year or so, but it does take time to plan projects.”

At present, there are 163 pupils at St Joseph’s, and Mrs Frances-Rees hoped to involve them in the design process.

“The children’s learning will be integrated in this design process,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to think about their environment and what it looks like and the functionality of it.”

Clarity around future developments would enable the school to develop the landscape and enhance its Enviroschools efforts, she said.

The upgrades would also provide a boost to central Oamaru.

“It rejuvenates us a little bit here in the heart of Oamaru,” she said.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing for the community of Oamaru, actually, to have a Catholic school here as an option and for us to be future-proofed.”Best SneakersNike