Derry’s oldest school has just moved into the newest school building in the city.
Foyle College’s new, state-of-the-art campus at Limavady Road welcomed its first batch of pupils yesterday with the rest of the 815 pupils set to follow throughout the rest of the week.
Pupils from years 8-10 were wide-eyed as they made their way around the expansive new campus.
School principal Patrick Allen said it was an “honour” to oversee the historic move of the old institution - the first time in four centuries that Foyle College has left the city’s west bank.
“It was a great honour to have been principal of Foyle last year during the 400th anniversary celebrations and it’s a great honour to be principal today to open this new school,” Mr Allen said. “It has been a huge team effort over a very long period of time to get us to where we are today in this new building which is equipped with marvellous technologies.”
He said there was a real sense of excitement among both pupils and staff: “I’m getting a real buzz from seeing the kids walking around today goggle-eyed; the staff , too, who have put in so much work to get ready for this move, are just as excited.
“Everyone worked really hard to get the new classrooms set up and to see them buzzing and excited about the new technologies and facilities available to us is extremely rewarding.”
Mr Allen also revealed how the school planned to connect the old with the new at the Limavady Road campus.
“Obviously, this is an extremely modern building but we also have to make sure that we recognise and pay tribute to the heritage of the past 400 years,” he said.
“There are a few things still to go into place. For example, the statue of Sir John Lawrence that used to stand outside Springtown is actually due to go up facing the new gate. We also have the original gate pillars fromLondonderry High School at the top of the Duncreggan Road which will be going on either side of the footpath. That way, pupils going into Foyle College on the Limavady Road will continue to enter through the gates that the Londonderry High School girls went through.
“Also, in recognition of the fact that this site was once part of a US Navy base, they have actually given us a donation to use their flag-pole. They visit every couple of years and they are due to visit next year, and they will be bringing a plaque to recognise that.”