Two pupils took part in a topping out ceremony at the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) yesterday (Tuesday 23 April).
Skye Colderwood, 12, and Allyshia Vallier, 11, both in year 7, recited a poem to mark the occasion on the roof of a new building at the Mile Oak school.
The topping out ceremony marked the completion of the building that will house the school’s sixth form and science centre.
It involved Sir Rod Aldridge, an old boy of the school, and acting head James Fox adding a ceremonial last touch of cement.
The new building is part of a £12.7 million revamp of the Chalky Road site, substantial parts of which date back to the 1920s.
It will lead to the current sixth form site in High Street, Portslade, being used by the proposed Church of England secondary school, the King’s School.
Sir Rod, who founded the outsourcing company Capita before setting up the Aldridge Foundation, said that the new building should be ready in September.
The refurbishment as a whole is expected to be completed by February next year.
Sir Rod said: “Today is a very special day. The students of Portslade will get what they have deserved for a number of years and the community of Portslade will get what they have deserved – and I can say that as someone who comes from Portslade with pride.”
He said that the new science centre and sixth form would serve the community along with a new library and the existing sports centre.
He said: “What I’ve always loved about this site is the way it’s a community hub.
“There is something quite personal in this for me. I came to this school. I was at the boys school which is now the sixth form and we had to come here for sport.
“There is something special that’s happening here. People are starting to believe it. And I’ve got a real passion for it.
“There’s a long way to go yet but today is the start.”
Mr Fox said: “The views here are spectacular. In the old building you couldn’t see from one end of the corridor to the other.
“This will be a great place for our students to learn.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “Sir Rod’s contribution is an incredible story.
“One of the Portslade councillors, Alan Robins, was saying people used to come to school here and go straight into a factory.”
Councillor Robins, like Sir Rod, is an old boy of the school.
Councillor Kitcat praised his co-sponsor’s passion and inspiration and added: “I hope it helps the children here as they venture out into a world very different to the world just 30 to 40 years ago.”
Honor Wilson-Fletcher, who chairs PACA’s board of governors, described the old building as looking like the biggest bungalow in Brighton and Hove.
Instead of squatting there, the new building would mean pupils could, for the first time see the sea from their school.
She showed guests the views down the valley towards the sea and, looking north, over the South Downs up to Southwick Hill and Truleigh Hill.
She said that the new building would be a fantastic and inspiring setting for science – the school’s specialism – art and much more.
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