One of the highest schools in Northern Ireland has opened a new chapter by moving into a new £1.5m building.
St Columba’s Primary School in Straw, a townland close to Draperstown,moved from its former cramped and ageing home to a state-of-the-art building on a neighbouring site.
School principal Geraldine Regan received the keys to the new building last week, signalling the go-ahead for 150 pupils and 17 members of staff to move after a nine-year wait.
While construction began in January, the battle to get funding for the much-needed new build goes back to 2003 and has faced many obstacles.
After plans were initially given the go-ahead, they were held up by funding cutbacks, changes in Government and logistic issues at the site such as water levels.
When funding was finally approved in August 2010, a nearby graveyard put yet another obstacle in its way.
Initial construction plans required an old section of a graveyard to be removed to make way for a footpath but the issue was resolved when a new site was found in a neighbouring field.
The new school is located on a two-acre site in the heights of the picturesque Sperrin mountains.
The building has seven spacious and modern classes, new sports facilities and extra rooms to be used for activity-based learning.
Staff and pupils marked the landmark occasion with a celebratory procession from one building to the other.
The children were moved class by class with each carrying a colourful hand-made flag representing ‘new beginnings’.