CERTAINLY the highlight of the beginning to the academic year last week was the opening of a new school in the region, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School at Cowes.
But as excited as new principal Catherine Blackford was about the start of the new venture, along with her teachers and the parents who came along to witness the historic occasion; the kids were just happy to get started making new friends.
“It is an exciting, long-awaited day for us. We’ve got 18 enrolments to start off with which is great,” Ms Blackford said.
“We’ll be in these portables for first term but as you can see, our new school is well on the way to completion. We’ll be in there from May 1 at which time all of the landscaping will be completed, as well as the new building which is coming along really well.
“The new school has two classrooms and an open break-out area both upstairs and downstairs. Both areas can be opened right up to create a large learning space. It’s going to be fantastic.
“And as the parents see what we have here, I’m sure our numbers will continue to grow.
“But you’ve got to make a start and we’ve made a great start today.”
As well as the main building, which will be able to be fully opened up to the outside, there’ll be a P-6 playground, hardcourt sports/play area, amphitheatre and oval.
“We’re going to be very much and outside-in kind of school with an emphasis on sustainability and environmental studies which is very much in keeping with our beautiful island,” said Ms Blackford.
Welcoming the new students, divided into two grades, were Prep to Two teacher Greg Synan and Three to Six teacher Ophelia Kotrba.
Greg comes to the school with a wealth of experience, as a career teacher and former principal of St Joseph’s Primary School at Korumburra.
He is delighted to be back after a three-year stint in real estate.
Ophelia comes to Cowes from St Lawrence Primary School, Derrimut on the western fringe of Melbourne.
“We were moving down this way anyway so I was lucky enough to get the position. We love it here,” she said of the Island and Bass Coast.
As well as the support of the local community, Our Lady Star of the Sea has been getting plenty of help and encouragement from the other Catholic schools in the region, especially Mary MacKillop Catholic Regional College in Leongatha where there’s still a lot of IP associated with starting a new school.
“They’ve been fantastic. They know what it’s like to get a school established and we’ll be having a lot of interaction there,” Ms Blackford said.
“They’ll even be sending their VCAL kids down to help us.”
Not that the teachers need a lot of help with the small class sizes, to start off with at least, which was a real selling point for many of the new parents, impressed their kids will get virtually one-on-one tuition to start them off.
Thursday was a big day in education on the island with all options for local students getting a lift; at Newhaven College the senior learning and art/science/technology centre was opened for senior students and those going back to Wonthaggi Secondary College also had some peep in their step with the new senior campus on track for a start mid-year.
New star in education set to shine at Cowes