2015 has been a year of change and transition, but this will be a small price to pay for the eagerly anticipated additions to our campus.
The two major extensions to the campus are the Performing Arts Centre, located next to the D Block, and the Early Years Building, situated next to the C Block. Both upgrades have cost a total of 50 million AED.
Construction for the buildings began in June 2015, and both are now at various stages of completion. The Early Years Building was unveiled two weeks ago, when the corrugated orange boards blocking the construction site were taken down. A tentative date for parents to tour the building is in January 2016.
Specifically aimed at accommodating students in Early Years 2 (EY2), the Early Years Building offers many new facilities, including six play structures for students. The importance of these playgrounds was highlighted by the Head of Early Years, Ms. Jasmine Taylor: “so much of the learning that we do in the early years is through physical, gross motor activity on the playground.”
Although not as close to completion as its Early Years counterpart, the Performing Arts Centre is well on its way. According to Head of Secondary School, Ms. Kathryn Simms, the building itself was so big that the original crane meant for the job was exchanged “for something that’s twice its size.” Its projected completion date is set for the beginning of May 2016.
Focused on the Arts subjects in Secondary School, the aim of the Performing Arts Centre is to establish Raha as the best Arts school in Abu Dhabi. One of its ambitions is to initiate Arts competitions amongst Taaleem schools, and slowly expand to National and International levels if possible. In the words of Mr. Javier Stalder-Hernandez, Arts Director of the Performing Arts Centre, “I want to link up schools across the world…and teach staff and students to be the best.”
The Performing Arts Centre boasts, amongst other things, soundproofed music classrooms, a kiln room, and a 600-seat auditorium with an orchestra pit. The latter was based on the auditorium in Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, save for a few improvements, like a greater seating capacity.
To deal with these aspirations, the amount of staff in the Arts department has been doubled this year. More Diploma Arts and Technology courses will be offered. The new home for the Arts subjects will free up space in the E Block, where the Technology department will move to from its current location in the B Block. The library and a small Secondary school only cafeteria will also be located on the ground floor of the E Block.
Although these buildings may be new to the Raha community, plans for them had been in the works since the early days of the school. As stated by the Principal, Mr. Wayne MacInnis, “we have wanted a Performing Arts Center for as long as I can remember.” The constructions are coming up now as Raha has “reached a level of maturity, and has a sizeable population”.
When asked about the future of Raha’s campus beyond these two buildings, Mr. MacInnis also mentioned the upgrade for the parking lot, and extensions for the dining hall and teacher staffroom in the future.
Although it has taken Raha ten years since its founding in 2006 to reach the completion of its campus, by the looks of what’s being unveiled, the wait may be well worth our time.
For more information on the new facilities in the Early Years Building and Performing Arts Centre, you can visit Raha International School’s website here.