Two nights of multi-media arts events marked the official opening of York High School, as ROBERT BROOKES reports.

YORK High School is up and running in its new building – and looking forward to a dynamic and exciting future at the heart of the community.

That was the message from two nights of multi-media arts presentations by pupils to mark the official opening of the school, which moved to its new site next to Oaklands sports centre in January this year.

The theme of the presentations was transformation – an apt one, because last October the school suffered a devastating fire at its then home on the former Lowfield School site in Dijon Avenue.

On the first of the presentation evenings, head teacher David Ellis welcomed guests who included the Lord Mayor of York, Coun Brian Watson, education officials and representatives of the contractors who had been involved with the school project, councillors and governors.

Mr Ellis spoke of how the day of the fire had been a low point, but with the support of colleagues at other schools, the setback had been overcome and the move to the new site had stayed on schedule.

The special guest on the night was Gail Emms, the Great Britain badminton silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and gold medal winner at the 2006 World Championships.

Gail spoke of how sport had changed her life, giving her the determination to excel when, as a teenager, she was finding it difficult to choose a career path. She later took time to show her medals to excited pupils.

The evening belonged to the young people who took part in the multicultural performances in the school’s impressive atrium. They included a Bollywood-style dance, an African choir to mark the school’s links with Tanzania, videos on the theme of confidence and self-expression and other original performances which used science, history and creative skills.

A First World War dance explored the transformation of soldiers before and after the war, while another dance was based on pupils’ movements while playing on a Nintendo Wii. Parents and carers were able to enjoy the presentations the following night.

Mr Ellis said: “The official opening of our school is something which will stick in my memory for a very long time.

“The celebration is a result of a tremendous amount of hard work by the young people and the colleagues who have supported them.

“The event was created to signal the change that is taking place in the education of young people in the west of York.

“We were delighted that the evening could be shared by the Lord Mayor and Olympian, Gail Emms, but it was also wonderful that so many of the people who have played a part in creating our new school were there too.

“I think that the quality of the performances and the passion shown by all the performers demonstrates that York High School has made a great start and I am very excited about the future.

“The combination of our new environment and the enthusiasm of the young people in our school resulted in an evening of which we could all be very proud.”