IT was an historic moment on what Midhurst Rother College Principal Dr Joe Vitagliano described as the school’s ‘epic journey.’
It was more than 350 since the school was founded above a shop in Midhurst and today, (Friday, April 19) former Education Minister Lord Andrew Adonis officially opened the brand new £31m academy buildings at a ceremony attended by many of those who had helped it along the way.
Lord Adonis, as education minister in Tony Blair’s government had championed the setting up of academies and had been personally involved in the setting up of the Midhurst Rother College as a United Learning sponsored academy.
He told the Observer: “The school is an amazing story of transformation - it was under-performing in buildings that were tired and with a low reputation in the community. Now there are these phenomenal new buildings that are a real landmark and phenomenal standards in the school which is popular in its community.”
Among those who attended the ceremony in the school’s state of the art theatre were Lord Cowdray, Midhurst’s MP Andrew Tyrie, international renowned sculptor Philip Jackson who has lectured in the college, John Coles, chief executive of sponsors United Learning as well as representatives from contractors Balfour Beatty who built the school, architects and planners.
Welcoming guests Dr Vitagliano said: “We are standing at the head of a history that goes back more than 350 years. The characters have changed and the place has changed, but the ideal of excellent education goes on in this town.”
And Mr Coles added: “These buildings, more than any I have seen in all my years of working in education, provide all that is necessary to make this a truly exceptional school.”
After unveiling the memorial plaque Lord Adonis paid tribute to the hard work of Dr Vitagliano describing him as “one of the most outstanding head teachers in the country. He is a testament to everybody here, showing just what can be achieved.”
The opening ceremony included entertainment from college students both in the theatre and across the grounds in the Jon Barrott Sports Hall which was beamed over to both audiences on giant television screens.