OUT OF THE ASHES

Vice Principal Bill McAlister and Principal David McConkey get ready to welcome pupils through the doors of the new Whitehouse Primary School. INNT 35-036-FP
Vice Principal Bill McAlister and Principal David McConkey get ready to welcome pupils through the doors of the new Whitehouse Primary School. INNT 35-036-FP
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JUST over two years since mindless thugs burnt their school to the ground in a sickening arson attack, staff and pupils at Whitehouse Primary will today (Thursday) make a welcome return to lessons in an impressive new school building.

“We’re on schedule to open up on Thursday and we’re looking forward to it very much,” a busy school Principal, David McConkey told the Times earlier this week.

“The staff have been working very hard to get things sorted and get the rooms ready and get everything set up in time for the pupils arriving back after their summer holidays.”

The old Whitehouse Primary was completely destroyed in a malicious blaze in July 2009, forcing staff and more than 350 pupils to relocate to temporary accommodation at nearby Newtownabbey Community High School.

Mr McConkey, who was recently awarded the MBE for services to education, last year led a successful campaign involving governors, teachers, parents and politicians calling for the school rebuilding plan to be progressed as a matter of urgency after it was shelved by the Education Minister following a review of capital projects across Northern Ireland.

Thanks to the efforts of staff, governors, parents, politicians, NEELB representatives, the Department of Education and the contractors appointed to the project, an impressive new school building has risen from the ashes.

Two years after the old classrooms were completely gutted, work on the new £3.6 million primary school and nursery unit at the Doagh Road site is finally complete and staff and pupils are looking forward to the new term in their state-of-the-art surroundings.

“It’s great to have this fantastic, bright and airy new building and great facilities and we’re looking forward to the start of term on Thursday,” Mr McConkey added.