This is a significant milestone in the life of the Parish community of St James the Apostle Parish, Hoppers Crossing North, as we give birth to our third school St Clare’s Catholic Primary, Truganina South.
Since 2010 we saw a massive increase in Melbourne Catholic schools. A practical example of this growth and the faith parents have in Catholic education is this new school which opened its doors to about 170 students this year. Next year we have an enrolment sitting at 220 students. Quite a significant number for a new school.
Procedures for the establishment and the strategic planning took place in 2013. Stephen Elder, well aware of the growth corridor here in the Outer Western region, gave us the approval to go ahead and follow the necessary process.
A site had to be purchased, along with the professional support of the Property office of the Archdiocese. We settled on this site on Marquands Road.
After receiving the Archbishop’s approval, a steering committee was established to oversee the school opening. The committee’s role was to initially formulate an educational vision for the school and to drive its design.
We met regularly with Centrum architects and in partnership with the Project Control Group which involved staff from the Catholic Educational Office. The robust conversations we had and the learning we did together enabled us to successfully steer the project of building a contemporary school. May I take this opportunity to thank all involved for the direction, guidance and support that you gave us during this time.
An Australian government grant was approved and additional support was provided by the CEO in the form of a Supplementary Capital Grant.
This financial support assisted greatly in the direction, quality and timely completion of the project. It also affirmed greatly the government’s understanding of the contribution Catholic education makes to communities and the importance of parental choice in education.
The steering committee, which consisted of Jan Keogh, Jean Corr, Stephen Murphy, Alicia Borg along with Deb Egan/Jeff Burn/Rob Aron/ Steven Ferraro and Andrew Leighton who joined us later, formulated an educational vision for the school, with the architects driving its design and including flexible learning spaces that are welcoming and motivating for students in line with 21st century educational goals. Centrum architects were keen to work with us to reflect on the design of the school. The design was based on the Golden Sun Moth, an endangered and protected species, whose habitat is adjacent to the school’s property – a protected nature reserve on the Eastern side of our land.
Discussion then continued in assisting to establish a name for the school. After a discernment process and several suggestions, it was decided a female patron was appropriate and who other than Francis’ close friend and advocate for the poor, St Clare of Assisi.
At this point I would like to acknowledge and thank the principal of our Sister school St Francis of Assisi in Tarneit, Jan Keogh. With the enormous pressure of settling into your new school and accompanying your staff you willingly contributed in developing the vision and the strategic plan of the school. Your passion, time, commitment and energy can only be applauded. I thank you for the ongoing support you have provided to Andrew Leighton and the staff of St Clare. As a host school, St Francis continued to offer great support during the planning and building stages of 2013.
Centrum architects have always been sensitive in working with us and along with our builders, Melbcon have built this magnificent structure reflecting our approach to personalised learning within a contemporary setting that is encouraging and engaging and fits beautifully with our parish vision of striving to be a caring, loving and welcoming community.
Our builders worked hard and under great pressure to effectively complete our building in time for us to open our doors and welcome 170 students for the beginning of the school year. We sincerely thank Greg Coutts and his team for working so cooperatively and skilfully with us throughout the project. From St Francis Primary School office, Margaret Mangani was instrumental as school bursar in diligently and meticulously managing and accounting for various financial stages of the project. This added enormously to your load in the 2014 year. Thank you Margaret.
We have a magnificent school with the next stage soon to commence. We have a foundation staff and leadership team with an enthusiastic pioneering spirit.
Dear friends, all I can say is thank you as you reinforce the Gospel of Christ within our Parish. I am always in awe at the joy and welcome I experience when I visit the school and delighted by the number of parents who tell me how committed our teachers and staff are to the children in their care. We thank the parents and children for their contribution and the ownership they have taken of St Clare’s Primary School, Truganina. May you continue to witness in the Spirit of Clare with a sense of service to the Parish community as foundation families. I would also like to acknowledge the contractors who support the life of our school, making a school effective is a complex task and requires the skills and contributions of many. To those who offer their professional services we are truly grateful.
To our principal, Andrew Leighton, you came to us as our leader and fully embraced and immersed yourself into our community with enthusiasm and passion. You listened respectfully to our vision and brought your own deep commitment to Catholic education. You constantly emphasised the importance of offering the best for the children in your care. Andrew, you have already witnessed our vibrant community here at St James and I personally look forward to continuing the journey of missionary service in the years ahead.
May God bless us all as we prepare for the ongoing work here at St Clare, so that we may continue to be a place where not only our children, but our whole family will be welcomed and valued members of our community. Being a people who are committed to recognising and affirming the gifts and talents of others, celebrating diversity and embracing difference, let our motto here at St Clare be an authentic reality as we let Christ’s light shine in our hands.