SWASHBUCKLING students went overboard to celebrate an official opening – by calling to arms one of the high seas’ most infamous pirates.
Pirate of the Caribbean Captain Jack Sparrow sliced through the ribbon with his cutlass as staff and students marked the completion of phase one of the redevelopment of Hipswell C of E Primary School.
Johnny Depp look-alike Roy McCormack swung in from the starboard bow of neighbouring school Risedale Sports and Community College, where he teaches ICT, to perform the honours.
Young brigands, sporting pirate garb, sang a hearty rendition of sea shanties for an audience including teachers, governors, architect Nigel Moore, of York-based Pearce Bottomley, Richmond contractor, Acomb Construction’s Dave Phillips and school business manager Barbara Dorman, who has overseen the project.
Head teacher Jon Sykes said: “We asked the school council who they would like to open the new entrance and offices. They asked all the pupils and the majority of children voted for Captain Jack.
“Johnny Depp wasn’t available and a professional lookalike was too expensive. Then our caretaker Kathy Richardson pointed out that Mr McCormack had a Captain Jack look about him.”
Risedale Sports and Community College head teacher John Kelly was happy to release him from teaching for the prestigious occasion and he appeared to tumultuous cries from a delighted audience.
“I had all the gear as I had once dressed as Captain Jack for a fancy dress party,” said Mr McCormack. “Mind you I had to borrow my wife’s boots to look the part. The children were brilliant and really thought I was Captain Jack – while some of the staff took me for Johnny Depp, which was nice.”
School council secretary Megan Duncan, 11, said: “We went round the whole school and more than half of the children voted for Captain Jack.”
Fellow council member Lewis Powell, 10, added: “We think the new look is fantastic and we are all really proud of our school.”
The opening marked the completion of phase one of the redevelopment of the 157 strong school, built in the village, near Catterick Garrison, in the 1970s.
More than half of the children are from service families and a great number of the remainder are ex-forces.
Mr Sykes said: “It has been absolutely brilliant and a great way to take children’s minds off the fact that some of their parents are serving or preparing for active duty in Afghanistan.”
The 18 week building programme was completed two weeks ahead of schedule at a cost of £115,000.
The timber frame building boasts the very latest in sustainable and energy efficient materials and has transformed the entrance and offices of the school, which has nine teachers, five support workers, two office staff, two kitchen staff, five dinner ladies a caretaker and cleaners.
“Until now there hasn’t been a warm entrance to reflect the friendly ethos of the school,” Mr Sykes said. “Now we have a welcoming entrance and rooms for meetings, work and visitors, which is fantastic.”
The work was completed from capital funds and the school is now trying to raise the finance for the next four phases of development.