One of London’s newest secondary academies has held a traditional ceremony to bring good luck to the school when it opens in Croydon this September.
Oasis Academy Arena is part of the London Olympic Legacy and is the latest project in a huge school-building and expansion programme that has seen Croydon Council invest hundreds of millions of pounds to meet the growing demand from rising pupil numbers.
Built in Albert Road, South Norwood adjacent to the Croydon Arena Athletics Track, it has adopted the Olympic motto ‘higher, faster, stronger’ in recognition of the site’s sporting connections. The academy’s aim is to forge strong links with sports organisations across the local area and will take in up to 180 new students each year, with pupils aged from 11 to 16.
The Mayor of Croydon joined staff and students as they marked the structural completion of their new school building with a ‘topping out’ ceremony, which is a custom going back thousands of years.
Held at the building’s highest point, topping out involves the sprinkling of wine, oil, corn and salt. Each ingredient represents a different thing. The wine symbolises fertility and wisdom, the oil stands for liberty and prosperity, the corn ripens prosperity into abundance, and the salt signifies purity and hospitality.
Representatives of Croydon Council, construction company Willmott Dixon and academy trust, Oasis Community Learning, also took part.
“This is the first brand new secondary school we’ve built in Croydon for some years and it will allow us to provide much-needed places for children moving up from the borough’s primary schools. As a council we have invested heavily to successfully meet primary demand, but now it’s important we turn our attention to ensuring there is adequate provision for our children as they get older.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
Richard Poulter, deputy managing director for Willmott Dixon in the southern home counties, says, “We are delighted to be celebrating reaching this stage and being able to share our topping out event with pupils who will be at the new school. When complete, the school will provide them with a great environment to learn and thrive and it’s fantastic that they can celebrate the progress to date.”
Remarking on the day. Oasis Academy Arena principal Craig Griffiths, says: “This is a special day for all of us here at Oasis Academy Arena, and one that marks the beginning of the exciting journey of learning, growth and discovery ahead for our students.”
“We know how fortunate we are to have these brand new facilities and are grateful today for all of the people who have worked so hard to make it possible. We very much look forward to serving our local community with pride and care and commitment in the coming years.”