Milestones were marked at Carinya Christian School on Tuesday as youngsters started kindergarten, and high school was introduced for the first time.
Parents milled around the school grounds and some tears were shed as kindies prepared to enter the main building to start “big school”.
Thirty kindergarten students are enrolled at the Gunnedah school this year, so there will be two classes for the first time.
Year 7 is starting strong with 20 enrolments, students heading over to the new middle school in Little Barber Street to join Years 5-6 and check out their classrooms.
School principal Chad Kentwell was busy greeting parents and students but took a few minutes to chat to the NVI.
“It’s surreal. Here we are,” he said on Tuesday
“We’ve gone from having a prep to Year 6 school to, all of a sudden, having separate junior and middle school campuses.
“It’s a whole new beginning and everything feels so different.”
Head of the new middle school, Alex Wharton, said the day was already “flying by”.
“We couldn’t be happier in terms of how it’s been going,” he said today.
“It’s been a very smooth transition. You might expect some teething problems but there haven’t been.
“This is a really big leap for the school and our community, but it’s a really positive one.”
Mr Wharton said the kids were enjoying the new facilities, “chatting, making new friends, building relationships”.
“The kids have been so excited and it’s contagious,” he said.
“They’re just so responsive.”
This is a really big leap for the school and our community, but it’s a really positive one.Alex Wharton, head of middle school
Mr Wharton said two parents of Year 7 students had told him their daughters stayed up planning the decorations for their school lockers and colour-coding their timetables.
“It captures the excitement,” he said.
“I said to the kids and the families, ‘There are some really good journeys in life … [and] this journey you're taking with us in middle school is one you’ll never forget, and how awesome and exciting is that?’”
"Carinya means ‘happy home’, and that’s our vision for the middle school.”
Mr Wharton has a strong belief in the middle school model, saying it sets students up for “long-term success in their schooling”.
“We have the opportunity to invest in these young people’s lives. We are all positioned here at Carinya to meet them at those needs in a special and tangible way.”
Juliana McArthur’s son Alexander started Year 7 at Carinya on Tuesday after completing Years 5-6 at the school.
Ms McArthur was impressed by the middle school and said Alexander was “excited” to be one of the first in the new building.