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New Anderson prepares to open its doors

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

IT’s just days until pupils enter the new Anderson High School and its halls of residence for the first time.

The older kids will start back after the October holidays on Friday before the secondary one, two and three pupils begin a few days later.

On Monday councillors and the local media were invited to take a tour around the school and the hostel as the finishing touches were put on the £55.75 million project.

The main atrium space which can be viewed from all floors. All photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

The staff were having their first day in the school as they acclimatised to its many floors, many rooms and many corridors, with headteacher Valerie Nicolson buzzing around the building as she prepared her colleagues for the big day.

There are three kitchen spaces in the new school for teaching.

Shetland Islands Council project manager Trevor Smith led the tour around the 1,180 pupil school with families and education committee chairman George Smith and SIC leader Cecil Smith looking on with keen interest.

Among the spaces being readied were the music rooms – complete with computers, electronic drum kits, guitars and keyboards – as well kitchens and science rooms, which were upstairs.

Looking over the main atrium is the library, while classrooms for craft and design can be found at the bottom of the school near to the supported learning rooms.

Lerwick North councillor John Fraser looking out onto the Clickimin running track from an art and design room.

It wasn’t just the visitors who were admiring the surroundings, with the science classes’ skeleton and human body models gazing out thoughtfully over the centre atrium.

The toilets on the bottom floor, meanwhile, may turn some heads with their open entrance, but they are designed that way in an effort to curb bullying.

A chuffed George Smith said he was “absolutely delighted” with the end product.

“You can really see the results of a lot of effort that has gone in,” he said.

“There’s great spaces for teaching and learning. It’s well equipped and spacious and I would hope that pupils and staff alike, and parents, would be very pleased with it.”

Smith’s namesake Trevor echoed his remarks, adding: “I think it’s a fantastic building and it will be a great facility for the bairns.

“It’s really come to together in the last four or five weeks with everyone pulling together. We’re really pleased.”

Nick McCaffrey will oversee the running of the halls of residence.

On to the halls of residence, and work is still ongoing to ensure everything is ready for the first batch of kids to enter on Thursday.

Nick McCaffrey is the man in the charge – ‘a new George’ he called himself, referring to previous hostel warden George McGhee.

There’s plenty of chill-out spaces for the kids, with TVs a plenty and broadband speeds reaching an eye-watering 100Mbps on the building’s WiFi.

There’s the old snooker table from the Janet Courtney hostel, while there’s gym facilities and a library too.

One of the TV rooms in the halls of residence.

The kitchen is state of the art, with the dishwasher even featuring a USB port, while there are dining rooms too to give a more homely feel.

There are six kids who from Shetland’s far-flung isles – four from Fair Isle and two from Foula – who will be staying for longer periods of time.

Pupils will access the building by a biometric entry system, while there are six CCTV cameras to keep an eye on the halls and its surrounding area.

Before leaving, Lerwick North councillor John Fraser praised the work that has gone into the halls of residence.

“It’s an absolutely amazing facility,” he said. “I hope all the bairns that come here love it and thrive.”