From the outside, the new building of classrooms at Mary Immaculate, Eagle Vale is impressive: it’s bold, vibrant and stylish. But the real wow-factor is inside, where an abundance of colour, light, space and flexible learning resources make for an outstanding contemporary student facility.
The new learning space - comprising six classrooms, a large general learning area, several small breakout rooms and an outdoor learning area and garden - has been the goal of this school community for the past seven years, in order to cater for the rapid population growth in the Macarthur over the last decade.
That goal has finally come to fruition, with the building’s official opening and blessing. The school’s students, staff, parents and Mary Immaculate parishioners were joined by Bishop Brian Mascord, Director of Schools, Peter Turner, several senior CEO staff and other local dignitaries and representatives of government to mark the occasion.
The building is ergonomically designed and has several features that allow for a more pleasant teaching and learning environment, including large windows for generous natural light, large fans and solar-powered air-conditioning to keep the area warm in winter and cool in summer.
The configuration of the classrooms allows for open learning, with the partitions able to create large learning spaces for up to ninety students each. The separate, small breakout rooms are excellent for withdrawal lessons and the hidden-away reading nooks are a favourite amongst the students.
Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 3 are the lucky year groups who get to enjoy these learning spaces on a daily basis. Both the students and teachers love their new classrooms.
“It has lots of space to show all our work,” Kinder’s Annabelle said.
“It’s nice and clean and colourful. I love the colours on the wall,” Mia from Year 3 said.
“I love the long windows. The book nook is nice and comfortable,” her classmate, Charlotte, added.
Year 3 teacher, Megan Price said the spacious new rooms were a wonderful addition to the school, providing a comfortable, engaging educational setting. The classes all have technological upgrades too, including Apple TVs and microphones installed.
“These microphones can be used by teachers and by students when they share their work with the class. They’re especially good for children with hearing impairments, as their individual receptors can be connected to the microphone control box,” she said.
Ms Price also praised the outdoor landscaping that has been part of the redevelopment, which complements the school’s natural bushland surroundings.
“The building has been accommodated with a tranquil outdoor lookout area across the playground. This extends to a levelled, shady, outdoor learning space.
“The feature gardens outside the building have also been taken on by the children. They’ve begun to plant and grow fruit and vegetables there.
“We’re very happy with our new classroom environment and the ambience it creates for learning.”
Once the Kindergarten and canteen block, the site was demolished and redeveloped with the help of Charles Glanville and David Bryant from Alleanza Architecture and Robert Stevenson’s team at Steve Watt Constructions. Building commenced in January 2017 and was completed twelve months later, ready for full-time occupancy from the start the 2018 school year.
Principal, Don Spencer, said the new student building was a modern, flexible space that catered for fantastic twenty-first century teaching and learning.
“We wanted to create the best possible facilities to allow for the best quality Catholic education that we can provide to the children in our care here at Mary Immaculate. I believe this goes a way towards achieving this goal,” he said.
Mr Spencer expressed gratitude to the members of the Enabling Committee established in 2012 to develop the master plan for the site, Parish Priests Fr Slawek Plonka and Fr Donal Madigan for their wonderful commitment and support, and the CEDoW School Properties Office for all their dedication, professionalism and ongoing hard work.
He acknowledged the close working partnerships that had furthered progress and the sources of funding that made this $2.3 million project possible: the NSW State Government through their Building Grants Assistance Scheme, all the parents and families who contribute to CEDoW’s SEDSO fund and Mary Immaculate Parish’s own SEDSO fund.
Director of Schools, Peter Turner, also thanked and congratulated all involved in the school’s wonderful achievement.
“Educators are increasingly aware of the interaction between physical spaces and an engaging learning environment. Modern facilities improve not only the school’s physical environment but also reinforce and nurture its learning culture,” he said.
“It’s a significantly improved learning environment, I know how excited teachers and students have been since moving into it.
“Within the walls of these new facilities, Mary Immaculate students will build their capacities and their aspirations, with the support of their teachers. So today is as much a day of hope for the future as it is celebrating the creation of a superb learning facility in the present.”
The new building is Stage 1 of Mary Immaculate’s redevelopment and refurbishment master plan to cater for three classes in every year group. Mr Spencer, said there are three more stages to go to completely transform the school, with construction on Stage 2 - the administration block - currently underway.
“The new space we’ve officially opened today is just the start. Within the next six years, the children at Mary Immaculate will have a school second to none in the Macarthur.”