A hundredth anniversary is always a special occasion, no more so than when the Parish of St Patrick’s, Port Kembla celebrated their centennial. It was a milestone that coincided with the opening and official blessing of the new building facilities at St Patrick’s Parish Primary School, Port Kembla.
On 1 November, St Patrick’s welcomed Bishop Brian Mascord, alongside the Director of Schools, Peter Turner and Franciscan Sisters for the blessing of their new buildings. They were joined by special guests and members of their community.
In 2015, the development of the new facilities began when Jayne Harrison, Founding Director and Jason Tan, Senior Architect from JDH Architects were engaged to construct a new facility to house each of the seven primary year groups in contemporary, future-focused spaces.
The proposal, flexible spaces that would support all kinds of pedagogies and a design that encouraged teachers and students to collaborate. With this in mind, the architecture team created spaces with ‘acoustic separation’ for explicit teaching.
The new facility also incorporated quiet spaces for independent learning and retreat, display areas to celebrate ideas, child-centric spaces with student access to resources and communal areas for parents and friends connected to the learning.
New high-tech features including standing desks, magnetic walls for displaying work and Apple TVs, are already a hit with students.
“We wanted to create facilities that were not only connected to new ways of learning, but also connected to the context and culture of the school and community,” said Jayne Harrison.
“The insight we gained from the school Principal, Mrs Duggan and her team - and especially from the students - allowed us to co-create learning spaces that align with the key ingredients for required successful teaching and learning at St Patrick’s.”
The blessing was followed by a tour of the facilities, morning tea complemented by a historical photo display and a picnic lunch – including the burial of a time capsule containing each student’s response to, 'What I love about St Patrick's'.
Mrs Duggan said the facilities are pleasing to teachers and students alike. “I’ll never forget [their] faces as they entered the new school for the first time. In those faces I saw the reason why each one of us here today believes in providing the best possible environment for learning - I know we’ve achieved this at our school.”
She also expressed her gratitude to the individuals who contributed to fulfilling the school’s vision in providing a quality Catholic learning community: Lee Hennessy, a former CEDoW staff member for her unstoppable commitment and Brendan Luckman, Schools Properties Officer who competently led the project.
“It was fantastic to work with the school and parish through the evolution of the project; from identification of needs, Catholic Block Grant Authority grant funding application, building concept and detailed design phases, through the construction process to completion - and then to celebrate the blessing,” said Mr Luckman.
“Supporting the school leadership team in delivering the vision and mission for St Patrick’s and to provide such wonderful learning spaces for the students for many years to come, has been satisfying both personally and professionally.”
Further, Mrs Duggan acknowledged the financing that made the project possible, with a grant of $731,000 received from the Australian Government and more than $2.5 million coming from local contributors and parents across the Diocese, to cover the overall $3.2 million project cost.
The occasion was celebratory and welcoming from beginning to end.
Bishop Brian invited students to “stand up” and “be the followers they're called to be”. He also encouraged Year Six students to take their light with them as they journey into secondary school and called on Years Four and Five to “pick up the spirit” from Year Six and “let their own light shine”.
Director of Schools, Peter Turner, thanked and congratulated all involved in the school’s achievement of creating the impressive new facilities for the students.
“Modern facilities not only improve the school’s physical environment but also reinforce and nurture its learning culture,” he said, “St Patrick’s has nurtured a culture characterised by a strong sense of identity and community. This is due in no small measure to the excellent leadership of the school and the dedicated staff.”
Mr Turner also recognised the support provided by the federal government for providing funds to assist the construction and NSW Senator, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who was unable to attend.
“I also acknowledge our local members - Paul Scully, State Member for Wollongong and Sharon Bird, Federal Member for Cunningham who are here with us today,” he said. “We appreciate your strident support of our Catholic schools."
“Buildings alone cannot provide the vision and passion that guides a school’s development. It is the human spirit and community interaction that makes the difference, allowing the buildings to do the rest.”