The joyful voices of the students of St Joseph’s, Bulli resounded around their school, as they celebrated the official blessing and opening of their new building, refurbished learning spaces and adventure playgrounds. In a beautiful pocket of the country, the students can learn and play, with all they need for a quality Catholic education.
It was a beautiful occasion, as the community gathered to give thanks and ask for God’s blessing on their new facilities. In attendance were distinguished guests Bishop Brian Mascord, alongside the Director of Schools, Peter Turner, and Father Patrick Vaughan, parish priest. They were joined by special guests and members of the St Joseph’s community.
On the day, Bishop Brian, Fr Patrick and Mr Turner were invited to join Principal Mrs Jen Charadia to open the new building and unveil a commemorative plaque.
“The parish has been generous in making allowances so that Project Coordination (building and landscaping teams) were able to access the site,” said Mrs Charadia. “We have a strong relationship with Fr Patrick and appreciate his presence in our school today.”
The blessing marked the end of a significant journey for St Joseph’s in their mission to update their facilities. Since 1882, St Joseph’s has had a long tradition of Catholic education in Bulli.
“The school plays a crucial part in the local community and has now grown to an enrolment of over 400 students for 2019,” said Mrs Charadia, “It is this very growth that sparked the need for new classrooms and facilities.”
Mrs Charadia acknowledged the Federal Government for the generous capital grant provided that partially funded the new building. “[The grant] has been highly valuable in ensuring our school has the facilities required to continue to provide quality Catholic education for families in the Bulli parish,” she added, before thanking St Joseph’s students and staff for their positivity during the 17-months of building work.
As the celebration moved on, Director of Schools Peter Turner also shared his gratitude for the new modern spaces. “I know that in the days, months and years ahead, these new facilities will be places of lively and dynamic school activity, involving many people - sharing ideas and learning together,” he said.
“It’s most fitting that your blessing ceremony provides an opportunity for all of us to gather and recognise the contributions of those people who have been closely involved in the building and refurbishment works.”
He acknowledged that such projects are not possible without close collaboration, in this case by staff, parents, students, the parish, wider community and significantly with the government.
“To the architects and the building project teams, our sincere thanks for the management, skill and expertise you have all brought to this important work,” he said, “Thank you for the understanding you had for [this] unique environment and the needs the school had throughout the project.
A special mention was given to Project Manager, Brendan Luckman, who led the two stages of development. “The latest work involved refurbishing and extending four Stage two classrooms, a corridor and new student toilets,” said Mr Luckman, “However it was the creation of the adventure playground and the connected landscaping which excited [us all] most.”
“Supporting the school leadership team in delivering the vision and mission of St Joseph’s and providing such wonderful learning spaces for the students for many years to come, has been rewarding both personally and professionally. There was a strong desire for St Joseph’s to have a quality building that reflects the educational needs of this community, on quite a difficult site.”
Founding Director of JDH Architects, Ms Jayne Harrison, was introduced to the project with the goal to transform the welcome experience to the school. JDH Architects worked closely with St Joseph’s to examine the dynamics between contemporary pedagogy and the learning environment, resulting in innovative and exciting designs for the teaching and learning spaces.
“The main design focus was to promote modern teaching pedagogy in a way that could be easily understood and implemented by both teachers and students. The new and refurbished learning spaces enable, promote and celebrate the innovative teaching and learning practices of St Joseph’s,” said Ms Harrison. “The agile spaces encourage innovative teaching practice, and for learning to flow harmoniously across multiple pedagogies.”
To conclude the blessing, the St Joseph’s school captains were invited to cut a celebratory cake with Mrs Charadia, while the rest of the students were asked to finish the celebration with a loud - “One, two, three… fantastico!”
The Year Six newsletter committee interviewed some of their peers to capture their favourite parts of the blessing, with the recurrent response cited as the cake, together with meeting Bishop Brian and Mr Turner. As one interviewee told the Year Six reporters, “At St Joseph's we believe in the truth and cake …oh, I mean light.”
As a young participant recalled, ‘We felt honoured to be at a special ceremony for our school. We especially loved watching the band playing their instruments and responded with wonderment and awe at their pure talent. It was really hot afternoon but everyone made it through!”
And so, the new facilities got the nod of approval from both teachers and, importantly, students who are its inspiration.
As Mr Turner said to the students, “You’re the reason these new facilities have been created and I hope you’re feeling good about the new spaces you are working in each day. I’m sure you too are very proud of your school being showcased.”
View our photo gallery below and also see here photos taken by St Joseph's School Support Officer, Cathy Bailey.
'Tick of approval for Bulli school’s new adventure playground', Illawarra Mercury