THE excitement was palpable at Monmouth Comprehensive on Friday afternoon as the school community celebrated the grand opening of the new building and facilities.

The process of relocating and rebuilding the school for 1,600 pupils and 110 staff has taken five years. For part of that time, classrooms were moved into temporary portable cabins.

"Today is the realisation of a dream," headteacher Vaughan Davies said. "I'm very humbled to support the children and staff in creating an education that is limitless."

Monmouth Comprehensive's pupils played their part in the design and the layout of the new school, and on Friday the smiles on the faces of those children present in the enormous entrance hall were testament to how satisfied they were with the outcome.

Attendees were welcomed by the school orchestra and speeches by head girl and boy, Emily Shields and Luke Rogers, before Year 13 vocalist Ella Young astounded the crowd with a stirring solo performance.

A short film was played, in which pupils and staff shared what they felt made Monmouth Comprehensive unique. The film, made by Year 10 students Charlotte Painter and Mason Rugen-Hankey, will also be shown as part of the school's representation at an international conference in Denmark in the autumn.

Year 10 drama students performed a year-by-year look at school life, and the celebrations were brought to a rousing conclusion with a choir performance involving groups of singing students appearing in different parts of the school hallway.

Cllr Richard John, Monmouthshire's cabinet member for children and young people, told guests the new school was the biggest civic building ever built in the county. Between the school and the neighbouring leisure centre – opened last year – a total of £51 million had been invested in the town of Monmouth, he added.

The lord lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken, unveiled a plaque to mark the school's official opening, before Mr Davies and deputy headteacher Tim Bird made speeches thanking Monmouthshire County Council, the Welsh Government, and constructors Interserve – as well as the school community – for their years of dedication to the project.

After events had concluded, Cllr John said the new school "embraced the new curriculum" and was "perfectly equipped for student-led learning".

The council wanted to extend such opportunities to the rest of the county, he added, saying: "There shouldn't be a limit on the ambitions we have for our young people.

"Absolutely we want young people in Abergavenny and Chepstow to be able to learn in a 21st-century environment like this one.

"We're committed to renewing all our secondary schools. We're halfway there, but we've got two more schools to make just like this."