CARDINAL Cormac Murphy – O’Connor, retired Archbishop of Westminster and leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, blessed and formally opened new building at St George’s Junior School – ‘The Ark’ – in Weybridge on 22 April 2016, the day before the Feast Day of St George.
Imaginatively built and brightly decorated throughout, ‘The Ark’ provides 240 girls and boys in the Lower Years with a range of modern learning facilities, including animal themed classrooms, cleverly designed resource areas, a dedicated IT suite, a new ‘Rainbow Room’ for assemblies and various outdoor learning spaces, as well as a living grass ‘sedum’ roof to help the building blend into its surroundings. Construction of the new building started in 2014 and the facility opened its doors in November last year (2015), since when it has been extremely well used and liked.
Today, with the whole Junior School in attendance, all 650 girls and boys aged 3 to 11, Governors, staff and guests warmly welcomed the Cardinal with great excitement, with all pupils having paraded outside and formed a guard of honour to welcome him by singing a powerful and moving rendition of the Easter hymn ‘Rise and Shine’.
The first part of the ceremony involved the laying and blessing of a time capsule containing various aspects of current life at St George’s, which will be opened in 50 years’ time in 2066.
The Cardinal was then shown around ‘The Ark’, unveiling a plaque and seeing the location of the new Nursery building next door for 90 girls and boys, which opens soon.
Before making his way over to bless the newly constructed Performing Arts Centre for all Junior School pupils, all the children from Nursery – Year 2 sang ‘Shalom’ before the guests were treated to some ‘Super Strings’ and the School’s Chamber Choir performing.
From that vantage point, Cardinal Cormac and the assembled guests were able to admire the Junior School’s recently acquired 40 acres of new land, offering outdoor learning to all pupils, an area that is now part of daily life for all at the School.
During his visit, Cardinal Cormac said:
“I am delighted to be here today; within just ten minutes of being here at St George’s Junior School, you can really sense the wonderful spirit of the place.
“Congratulations to everyone who has worked on this huge project – I hope it continues to flourish and grow.”
Speaking of the occasion, Antony Hudson, Headmaster of St George’s Junior School, said:
“The opening and blessing of The Ark, Performing Arts Centre and New Land at the Junior School by Cardinal Cormac is a real celebration of how St George’s is building for future generations.
“It is the culmination of a journey lasting nearly five years since initial planning began, and the joy on the faces of the pupils and staff as they sang ‘Rise & Shine’ enthused all the guests who witnessed it, making links across the School generations to come, as the time capsule was presented and blessed giving great hope that the School will be in even more wonderful shape when it is opened in 50 years’ time in 2066!”