The sun shone brightly for the first day back at Newhaven after the COVID-19 lockdown.

IT’S safe to say that in the eventful, 40-year history of Newhaven College there has never been a day quite like last Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

But as momentous as events were around the kids coming back to school after two months away during the coronavirus lock-down, it all went off incredibly smoothly, with a few tears here and there, it must be said.

Principal of the college, Gea Lovell, was both delighted and thankful with the way the students, parents and staff have approached the challenges.

She addressed senior students in dazzling sunshine, in the school’s new amphitheatre at the start of the day, saying that while they’d missed out on some feature activities, the school was determined to make up for lost time.

“Student groups will be getting together to see what we can do to compensate for missed events such as the Year 11 ball, the musical production and so on. And we have panned an intensive House Sport Competition to compensate for the inter-school sports being cancelled.”

Mrs Lovell was there when 130 or so junior students started arriving, well before the appointed hour, receiving a warm welcome from staff.

“We’re all excited about the children coming back to school and we’ve got lots of great things planned for them on their first day.

“It’s great having the students back – it adds a vibrancy to the place. Schools are lonely places without children. The smiles on everyone’s faces said it all.

“Our parents have been amazing and extremely supportive of our staggered pick-up times, and remaining in or near their cars as students walk up to meet their teachers.

“The difficult part is for those teachers who are now teaching some classes face to face, and then their Year 5 to 10 classes online. It is demanding for them all, but they continue to give it their best.”

Mrs Lovell said the college started back with about 300 students; 130 in years Prep, 1, 2 and 170 in 11 and 12, approximately a third of the school’s 940 enrolment, with the remainder due back on June 8 in line with the rest of the school system.

“It’s exciting to be back and the geese are back too, for all those who were interested to know.”

About 50 others in years 3 to 10 have continued to attend through the lock-down.

The college has 164 employees which includes full and part time workers.

Work has continued at-a-pace on new playing fields at the school set to include a synthetic hockey and tennis facility and a turf soccer pitch.

“We are hoping both will be completed by the start of term Three. We have also made progress with the Performing Arts Wing, for which we received a $1.5 million grant from the government last year. This is due to commence in Term 4 this year.”

The school put up ‘welcome back’ archways to provide a sense of occasion for the return to school this week.