A GRASSROOTS movement by the Cowes community to have a Catholic Primary School on Phillip Island is about to become a reality, as the Our Lady Star of the Sea school plans to open its doors next year.
It’s expected the school will cater for about 180 students, located at the back of St Mary’s Catholic Church on the corner of Phillip Island Road and Cowes-Rhyll Road, Cowes.
It will be Bass Coast Shire’s second Catholic primary school, in addition to Wonthaggi’s St Joseph’s.
Our Lady Star of the Sea principal Catherine Blackford says she’s already received enquiries from families in Bass, Grantville, Surf Beach and other waterline communities.
While the idea of a Catholic primary school on Phillip Island has been on the mind of local parents for the past five years, it’s only been in the last two years that prominent Catholic leaders put pen to paper.
Mrs Blackford says there is demand for a Catholic primary school in Cowes and they’ve built the school to cater for expected demographics.
“It’ll be ready to start in the second term in the new building, but we’ll have a demountable portable ready to go to start 2018,” Mrs Blackford said.
The environmentally-sustainable school will have eight classrooms, a soccer/football field, an oval and will be surrounded by extensive Indigenous woodland and scrub, across seven acres.
The school will be set up as an open-space learning area, giving teachers the option to have small classes with the doors closed or group activities with other classes.
Last Wednesday, Mrs Blackford met with Diocese of Sale’s Catholic Education director Maria Kirkwood, and planning, building and finance manager Michael Maye.
Ms Kirkwood said people have approached the Catholic education office asking if they would consider having a Catholic primary school on Phillip Island.
“So that’s unusual, but that’s really what makes it so special,” she said.
“It has very much come from the people on the island and we’ve been able to accommodate that.
“Funding is always an issue for Catholic schools and we’re very fortunate that the land was already here, so that’s assisted us.”
There’s been extensive consultation with the Bass Coast Shire Council around the new school, and they’ve been very supportive of the project, Mr Maye said.
It’s no easy task building a school from scratch. On the construction site, there’s mud a foot deep which will be transformed into outdoor playing spaces.
Top-priority projects include the oval, hard court and car park.
The school focuses on students having a growth mindset, resilience, and being the best they can be.
Phrases such as ‘I stay positive’, ‘I don’t give up’ and ‘I learn from my mistakes’ will be key messages for students.
A demountable portable will be available at the school from next term, giving students a sense of the area and assisting with transitioning to the new school.
For more information or for any enrolment enquiries for the Our Lady of the Sea Primary School, call Catherine Blackford on 5951 1700 or 0407 862 941.