Boulevard free school gets Hull FC legend Johnny Whiteley's seal of approval
A HULL FC legend has given the city's first free school his seal of approval.
Johnny Whiteley visited the site of the Boulevard Academy to see how the former Hull FC ground was changing.
The school, which will open in September, has formed a partnership with the Super League club to keep the heritage of the site alive.
Mr Whiteley visited with principal designate Andy Grace, who officially starts his job on April 8.
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Carol White, an educationalist, and Joan Irving, supply chain director at Arco, who first proposed the free school, were also visiting to see how the building work was coming along.
"I think the project is absolutely marvellous," said Mr Whiteley. "Being associated with the Boulevard and being a local lad, this is a real credit to everyone concerned.
"It is nice to know there will be a rugby pitch and two football pitches, which will be fabulous for this area.
"In this day and age, green areas are going, so it is nice there is going to be another area for sport within the inner city. There are chimney pots all around here and so many families.
"Kids so often have to catch the bus to get to school.
"This will be an old-fashioned type of school, at the end of the street, in the heart of the community."
While the building of the school means fans have to say goodbye to the historic ground, Mr Whiteley says a school is the best thing that could have happened to the site.
He said: "I don't think any- thing else could have been better. They could have used it for industry or anything.
"To use the old Boulevard name will mean the site will keep its name for the next 100 years."
Pupils will wear black and white uniforms, the colours of the club.
There will be a memorial garden in the school for the relatives of people who had their ashes scattered on the pitch to visit.
Andy Grace, principal designate, said: "People have been telling me how quickly it has been coming together and there is so much more than I expected to be up.
"When I applied for the position as principal, I had the opportunity to check it was going to have high standards and expectations and that it was going to reflect the needs of the community.
"What I didn't realise until after was how significant this site is for the people in this area, so we made a strategic decision to call it the Boulevard Academy, which was a signal of intent. We could not have called it anything else."
Mr Grace says parents have shown faith to put their children down for places at the school when building work had not even started.
He said: "What we want to do now, before it opens, is to speak to families and young people to explain what is unique about the school."
The £10m school will have places for 600 pupils. As a free school, it will operate outside the local authority's control.
Construction firm Bam, which is building the school, says the bulk of it will be completed by September 2 when the keys will be handed over. Pupils are expected to start at the school on September 9.