The countdown to opening the town's newest secondary school is just a few weeks away when pupils and staff from Hreod Parkway School's two sites come together as Nova Hreod.
Swindon Link was invited to tour the buildings in March with headteacher Andrew Fleet and Year 10 pupils on the Alternative Curriculum Project? who were amazed by the size and the descriptions of the facilities on offer.
At the centre of the school built on three floors is a huge covered atrium easily large enough to accommodate the whole school. Five spokes radiate from the centre dubbed the Da Vinci Dome to reflect the recently awarded science specialist status. The spokes are reflected in the new logo.
Linking the school to the past, set into the floor is an area of cobbled stones retrieved from the foundations of an 18th Century farmhouse found on the site, close to paviours to be engraved by school sponsors.
The youngsters were among the very first to tour the buildings; some staff will only go inside for the first time over Easter when the big move takes place. Whilst workmen were completing the building, and technical people were networking computers and furniture was being installed, the pupils had a look at the dance studio, the gym and sports hall, dining area and library, and outside amphitheatre.
They also went into the ACP room in the Year 11 social area overlooking the playing fields and, in the distance, Shaw Community Forest.
Ashley Byers was impressed by what he saw. "It's all brilliant; the giant sports hall is the best part." Emma Austin thinks the mirrored dance studio is great. "The whole place is really good; we're really lucky to be able to have new buildings for our last year at school. It makes you feel like working harder."
Mr Fleet said after years of planning, the big move is close at hand. "It's been a massive logistical exercise to maintain the delivery of education while preparing to bring the upper and lower school together in one building. Staff have done a great deal of hard work to ensure everything goes smoothly. "The new challenge starts after Easter to develop our new identity in a new setting."
Pupil David Harris said, "the new school is massive and amazing. The ACP room looks really good and the dome is fantastic. You can??t call the old buildings a school anymore."
How the name was decided on.
Headteacher Andrew Fleet explains, "the school, which was awarded its specialist status by the Department for Education and Skills in September, went to consultation on its name two years ago when the new buildings were being planned.
The overall response of the parents, students, staff, governors and the local community was that the name Hreod (meaning reed) -? a word dating back to the Domesday Book -? should be kept within the new school name both for its identification of the school's location in the Hreod Burna (Rodbourne) valley and to maintain continuity with the past.
But the retention of Parkway (adopted in the 1980's when Hreod Burna School combined with Moredon Secondary School) was firmly rejected.
The new name was chosen by the governors from a short-list that arose from the original consultation. It adds a latin epithet 'Nova' to the old name, representing the new phase of the school's development but also meaning 'a sudden burst of energy and brightness' on the surface of a white dwarf star a link with the school's Science specialism.
The space theme is echoed in the new Hreod building that is star-shaped with five wings radiating from a covered central atrium which has been named 'The Da Vinci Dome'. The new restaurant run by Avenance Caterers will be called the Stellar Diner.
With the new name and building comes a new logo and branding for the college. Hannah Shore, a former student and graduate in graphic design, and now a product designer with Futurebrand, worked with students during the Autumn to create a logo for the 21st Century which takes the star-shape as its theme. It is planned that this will be incorporated into a new range of uniform products available from September.