It has been three years in the building, but a Sunderland academy has finally been officially opened.
Wearside’s St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy has undergone a massive £15.4million transformation seeing the old, cramped, run-down buildings replaced by a new state-of-the-art facility.
Due to the city centre location of the historic site, work had to be done in stages, but this week it was officially opened by Lady Justice Thirlwall, a former pupil and one of the country’s leading judges.
Lady Thirlwall, who sits on the Court of Appeal, was joined by MP Julie Elliott and chairman of governors, Andrea Shanks, a former Dean of Law at Northumbria University.
Bishop Seamus Cunningham, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, held a service with eight clergy from the Sunderland parishes.
Headteacher at the Thornhill Terrace school, Monica Shepherd, said: “The whole community at St Anthony’s is delighted with their new school and would like to thank everyone for their forebearance during the construction period.
The whole community at St Anthony’s is delighted with their new schoolMonica Shepherd
“We look forward to welcoming more past-pupils in the autumn term.”
Prior to the official opening, the school had welcomed more than 250 past pupils to the academy to take a look around.
The official opening was celebrated with an afternoon tea, a tree planting ceremony and the release of balloons by St Anthony’s girls, as well as visiting students from Daquin in China and St Nazaire in France.
Mrs Shepherd, said the building, which was built by Kier Construction, is amazing and has wonderful facilities.
And, the listed buildings at the front of St Anthony’s, which is 114 years old, have been kept and refurbished in keeping with the historic nature of the area.
The new building with bright, modern classrooms, a new sports hall and extensive outdoor facilities, gives more than 1,400 students the best possible environment to learn in.
St Anthony’s originally missed out on Building Schools for Futures funding when the scheme was scrapped, but after a long journey the money for the new build was made available through the Government’s Priority School Building Programme for those most in need.