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Play chapel creates a happy place for students

June 10, 2019

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Play chapel creates a happy place for students

St Joseph’s Catholic School now has its very own unique play chapel, thanks to students from Marcellin College.

Year 12 building and construction students designed and built the structure last year as part of their certificate qualifications, supervised by teacher Mr Craig Parr-Whalley. They decided to donate it to a local school, and after a site visit to St Joseph’s with three proposals, they settled on the chapel idea.

Inspired by a model tepee made out of wooden pallets, six students spent weeks working out how to make it. That meant solving problems as the design evolved, and completing paperwork for credits. When they ran out of time to finish the chapel last year, it became their installation project for Year 13.

Mr Parr-Whalley said the structure changed over time – five sides became six; pallet wood was replaced by higher quality timber, generously donated by Mitre 10 Onehunga. The students had to think about health and safety features, and how to incorporate the cross and “stained-glass” windows (made of coloured perspex).

“Each new element added complexity and they had to be able to construct, disassemble, move and reassemble it on site. I think the students thought it would never get finished but when they were installing it, they were blown away by how it looked,” Craig said.

St Joseph’s principal Carolyn Massey said the children love playing in the chapel which now occupies previously unused space near the junior playground.

“It looks beautiful on site and it’s well-used – more than I thought it would be, actually, mostly by the younger children. A few of the older children like playing in it too, so it’s creating a community.” Carolyn said.

She was impressed by the Marcellin students’ dedication in devoting a week of their Easter holidays to dismantling the chapel at Marcellin and installing it at St Joseph’s.