There’s excitement in the air at Carinya Christian School as staff prepare to open the new middle school on Tuesday.
The middle school enables the Gunnedah school to introduce Year 7 for the first time, with 20 students enrolled.
The students will be housed with Years 5-6 in the new buildings on Little Barber Street, which runs parallel to the main school building.
On Monday, NVI met the head of middle school, Alex Wharton, who has relocated from the Northern Beaches with his wife Jenny, a new kindergarten teacher at the school.
Mr Wharton is no stranger to the area, spending many holidays in Quirindi and visiting family in Gunnedah and Willow Tree. The Whartons have already adopted a puppy through the Gunnedah RSPCA and are pumped for their new adventure at Carinya.
“I’m ecstatic. This is such an amazing opportunity,” he said.
“The sign that you see when you come into Gunnedah that says, ‘Land of opportunity’, it’s true for us. We feel so blessed.
“This is a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s not often you get to grow something from the ground up.”
Also new to Carinya is Olivia Chapman who will head up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) this year.
Mrs Chapman moved to Gunnedah from Wagga Wagga with her husband Robert who will teach Years 5-6. Their children Clare and Vivian will start Year 6 and Year 7 at the school.
“I think it’s a very exciting time to be here,” Mrs Chapman said.
“What a great opportunity to come in when you’ve got all these new classrooms and you get to write these new and fresh programs.”
Mrs Chapman has already put in the work to secure a grant to enable the school to set up a “make a space” classroom so students can apply their creativity to personal interest projects during class time and breaks. There will be 3D printers, Lego robotics (EV3), robotics components and computers for CAD design.
This is a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s not often you get to grow something from the ground up.Alex Wharton
Carinya principal Chad Kentwell said STEM was a “new focus” at the school and will be included in options for “interest electives” along with robotics, computer coding, cooking, textiles, engineering, public speaking and drama.
Mr Kentwell said he was looking forward to seeing it all come together when the term kicked off.
“We’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this,” he said.
“We’re in an exciting position to have a really positive start [to the year].”
He said it was great to have new staff on board, including a new music teacher.
“It gives you great confidence as a principal knowing you have capable staff,” he said.
“We’ll work together as a leadership team [and] I’m really excited about that.”
This week, the middle school grounds are being landscaped and irrigation will be installed. Shade sails will go up later this month or early next month.
The school’s long-term plan is to introduce a new year group each year so the school will cater from prep to Year 10 by 2022. There are currently no plans to cater for Years 11 and 12.