'We have won the lottery'

“IT feels like winning the lottery.”

As Belvoir Special School principal Jamie Gay looked around the classrooms at the new campus in Wodonga’s Gayview Drive, he knew it would be a place where students could succeed.

And teachers are also better off now the staffroom does not have to act as a hall or the assistant principal’s office a kitchen.

The $12 million development started in March last year and today marks the first time students will set foot in their new school.

“I’m a little bit nervous,” Mr Gay said.

“The first day will be like having 170 preps, it’s all new and they’ll be trying to figure out where to go.”

The old school in Bowman Court was built for only 30 students in 1983 and it could no longer cater to the growing numbers.

Mr Gay said the new school had the potential to accommodate more than 200.

The school will offer students improved hospitality, drama and music programs.

The campus has been purpose-built and includes internal and external withdrawal spaces.

“They can find a quiet place to read or have a space with punching bags,” Mr Gay said.

“Whatever they need we are now able to provide.”

A sensory garden has also been built for students.

“There is a sandpit, a musical play area and plants that can be eaten,” Mr Gay said.

“It helps them regulate their own senses and helps them feel comfortable and safe.”

Mr Gay hoped the bright and vibrant atmosphere would encourage students to feel good about themselves and instil parents with confidence.

“Parents are sending their kids to a state-of-the-art school and not one that’s second-hand,” he said.

The classrooms at the new campus may be smaller than before, but Mr Gay said it was an advantage because no student would be lost.

“I think the students will have a great time and they’ll want to be here,” he said.

The old school will now become Wodonga Senior Secondary College’s flexible learning centre.