There’s no hiding the problems with the facilities at the senior campus of the Wonthaggi Secondary College, nor the disappointment within the school community that the former government’s election promise will not be fulfilled or matched by the new government… yet!
NO ONE could call Wonthaggi Secondary College principal, Garry Dennis, a whinger.
But, after the bitter disappointment of having a State Government, that had been in office for four years, come to town in the shadows of the November 29 election, and promise a new school, he had to say something at last week’s senior school presentation night.
It was the only dull note in an otherwise highly successful year.
“One thing we didn’t achieve this year was to get a new school,” Mr Dennis said after running through an impressive list of achievements in 2014.
“I don’t always say something about the McBride Campus but I think I need to this year after what transpired in the run up to the state election.
“It’s not that we don’t like it; the ambience, its rustic nature, the animals, birds and insects that dwell in its cracks and crevices. It’s a nice place to go in some ways but the fact is that the bottom end of the Bass electorate has been neglected for quite some time.
“We thought we had it (funding for a new school) four years ago but we missed out.
“The former government made a promise before the election but we couldn’t get a corresponding promise from Labor.
“The former member has assured us that while he’s no longer the member, he’ll continue to be active for us but other electorates around the state are able to get things that we aren’t able to get.
“Buildings don’t make a school but the best possible facilities would certainly help,” Mr Dennis said.
But despite the state of the senior campus buildings, Mr Dennis said the college had made great strides in developing a culture of success – encouraging students to not only be independent, motivated, skilled, organised, resilient and respectful, but also happy and even adventurous with their aims and expectations.
“My first year at a Year 11 and 12 presentation night was back in 2002 and it was interesting to go back and look at what we were like then compared to now.
“In 2002 our Year 11 and 12 numbers were dropping off significantly and while we still had those high achievers, there weren’t a great deal who went on to tertiary studies.
“The school culture has improved greatly since then. We’ve developed a culture of doing your best in all areas and that’s not just the students, but the teachers as well.
“In 2014 we have more students completing Year 12 and more going on to tertiary studies. We still have students leaving school to take up apprenticeships and enter the workforce, which is also a good outcome, but we are getting better at catering to a wider range of aspirations in 2014. We’re getting better at that every year.”
Mr Dennis alluded to some fragility in the local economy too when he said he’d seen more evidence in 2014 of kids and people in the community finding it tough and he said the school intended to do more in 2015 to ensure kids were socially and emotionally OK, as well as enjoying and benefiting from their education at WSC.