The site of the new Anderson High School and halls of residence has been the subject of an inspection by its most inquisitive critics yet – the pupils who will one day attend classes there.
Pupils from the existing school braved the elements during a cold, dark and wet Wednesday afternoon to witness first hand the work being done on the council’s £55.75 million project.
But they refused to let a drop of rain put them off asking imperative questions about the 114-week works programme, and the work being done on the six-hectare site.
The youngsters, who are all members of the school representative council, were able to inspect the plans and see the site for themselves. And they thought of plenty of things to ask Morrison Construction’s project director Mark Clarke.
It follows a similar visit by senior pupils who visited the site as part of their “urban change” studies for the Higher Geography curriculum.
This week’s youngsters were presented with an electronic tablet computer to help the reporting group make video diaries of the development over this and subsequent visits, which are due to take place on a regular basis.
S3 pupil Kieran Thomson was perhaps one of the keenest to see the new school project – underway since June – emerge from the ground.
“It’s my first site visit. I found it quite interesting because my family have been involved in the construction industry. My uncle was a crane operator and my dad was a heavy plant operator, so it’s running in the family,” said the 14-year-old Lerwick boy.
“It’s really interesting to see the progress being made.
“It’s really impressive seeing how quickly they’ve progressed with it. I was expecting just to see a hole in the ground and a crane sticking out of it, but at the moment the progress is quite spectacular.”
Meanwhile, S1 pupil Jonathan Dorrat, also from the town, was left much impressed by the visit.
“I think it’s amazing how fast it’s gone up. We can’t really see much difference from the road, but once you actually get into the site you see it’s gone up quite fast, and it’s quite tall already.”
He said he was “quite excited” by the idea of studying at the new school once it has opened its doors. That, incidentally, is still “on programme” to take place in September 2017.
In the meantime, the most striking feature of the skyline has been the new tower crane, which will have the school built around it. The crane is said to be more sturdy than a mobile crane, and is more able to withstand gale force winds. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the isles.
But things have moved on in other ways, too. Construction workers have reached the first-floor level since The Shetland Times was given a sneak preview of the site in October. The workers have had a hard task breaking the intensely hard rock at the site of the “delta-shaped” accommodation block, but finally succeeded using extra heavy-duty equipment.
The early part of next year will see the school building rise from first to second-floor level. The car park retaining wall will reach completion, and the main septic tank will be installed.
On hand was school librarian, Tanya Odie, who said the information gathered by the pupils would be used on the council’s YouTube site, and the school’s website.
“This is the SRC – these are the junior members of the school representative council, and that’s why they’ve been chosen for this group.
“As you’ve heard from all their questions – they are very interested. It’s only as you come here and see it happening you realise we are going to get a new school, and it’s good for them to take ownership of it early, because it’s their school.”