New Wonthaggi school brings a dream to life

MODERN EDUCATION: Wonthaggi Secondary College principal Darren Parker and current McBride campus principal Marg O’Donnell with the new senior McKenzie campus.

WONTHAGGI is rich in history, built on the foundations of its coal mining origins, but on the edge of town is a clear sign the town – and the broader Bass Coast – has entered the modern age.

The $32.5 million new senior campus of Wonthaggi Secondary College is so contemporary, one could be forgiven for thinking they were no longer in Wonthaggi.

The spectacular school comprises two grand buildings that signify to this community that after years of campaigning for a new school to meet the region’s burgeoning population, that yes, they do matter.

It’s little wonder that college principal Darren Parker is excited.

“It’s something to be proud of and our whole community should be proud of what we have,” he said.

“This is twenty-first learning in a twenty-first setting.”

The long term staff member at Wonthaggi Secondary said he “feels privileged”.

“Not too many teachers get to be involved with a change like this in their career,” he said.

“I can’t wait for the kids to be here.

“There are so many things that we have put up with and our kids deserve this.”

The new school will adopt the title ‘McKenzie Campus’ to reflect its location in McKenzie Street.

When The Star visited recently, bus drivers were trialling the new school, tradespeople were applying finishing touches, and leading teachers were touring the site. Others were moving furniture across.

Staff have been working a week ahead in their schedules to give them time to relocate before the end of the school year.

The first classes will be held on day one of first term, 2020, catering for students in years 10-12.

The first building is a learning hub, a two-storey centre where general classes, arts, technology and science are taught. There’s an expanded administration area, with two receptions – one for the public and the other for students – a two storey library and an amphitheatre for staff or student use.

Staff will have bigger offices and all support services – for student welfare, year level coordinators and computing – will be in the one area. There are training spaces and conference areas. Lockers arrived recently.

The second building is an activity hub, with spaces for teaching dance, drama, music, food technology, and physical education and health.

This centre is also home to an indoor stadium with three basketball courts that simply takes one’s breath away.

It can seat up to 400 people, making for an emotion-packed sporting arena during games – and the community will access it via a separate entrance and have their own car parking.

It’s been long-awaited by the community, especially the Wonthaggi Basketball Association, which will be based there and the first games played early in 2020.

“It’s an amazing part of the project,” Mr Parker said.

There’s an outdoor court for students and staff will have their own car park for the first time. They now vie for parks with the public at the McBride Campus.

The current campus is cramped, entrapped by streets and with no oval for students to play.

In contrast, the new campus is situated on a substantial site with an oval and a large vacant area of land to accommodate a future development as part of a broader education precinct.

The prospect of a new TAFE campus or university centre here has not been ruled out, nor confirmed.

The college will retain Webb Shed opposite the existing school site as its FLOW campus – Flexible Learning Options Wonthaggi – and will invest $200,000 to upgrade the building to provide outreach and pathways services to students needing additional support.

The existing McBride Campus will be managed by Bass Coast Shire Council, with its future use yet to be determined.

Next year, Wonthaggi Secondary College is expected to have 1480 students, close to 675 of whom will be at the McKenzie Campus, meaning the new school will be close to capacity.

Two portable buildings will be located on-site to allow for any future growth or decrease in enrolments.

Another junior campus of the school is proposed to be built at San Remo, with architects recently appointed.

To reflect the campus changes, the school council is considering a new name for the college.

The last classes at McBride campus were held last week, with a mine whistle signalling the end of an area.

There were smiles, laughs, hugs, tears and even a round of applause.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=30543

Posted by on Dec 12 2019. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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