By Kyra Gillespie
Beaconhills College has officially launched its new $5.7m Year 9 centre at the Pakenham Campus.
The contemporary new centre was built in partnership with the State Government, thanks to a $2.865m grant.
It replaces the original centre on the same site, and based on the same ‘village’ concept, with classrooms, breakout spaces and a large multipurpose area built around a central courtyard.
There is also a 130kW solar system to power the building.
Year 9 students moved into the building earlier this year.
Beaconhills was the first school in Victoria to offer a dedicated on-campus Year 9 program, which has since inspired similar programs in other schools.
Some 80 guests attended the opening on Tuesday 16 October, including State Member for Eastern Victoria, Daniel Mulino, the Melbourne Anglican Archbishop The Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier and Reverend Ann Simons from the Officer Pakenham Mission Area as well as the State Member for Gembrook Brad Battin, parents, students and staff.
Headmaster Tony Sheumack said that for students, Year 9 was on their list of most memorable schooling experiences and was a ‘life-changing’ year.
“This opening ceremony was not just about celebrating the facilities, but also the innovative Year 9 program and those who helped bring it to life when our original centre opened in 1997,” Mr Sheumack said.
Beaconhills’ Year 9 program is based on the philosophy that values can’t be taught in the classroom, they have to be experienced.
Key features of Year 9 at Beaconhills are the Experiential program, Common Good, Personal Best (where student spend a term creating a major project that represents their personal passion), the Wellbeing and Self-discovery program and a nine day Great South West Walk camping experience.
“This school attracts a large number of local kids and making this investment makes sure they will continue to have access to a great local school,” State Member for Eastern Victoria, Daniel Mulino said.
The project benefited from a $2.8 million contribution from the State Government, as part of their $120 million Capital Funding Program for Non-Government Schools.
“This brand new, state-of-the-art building is another example of how we’re making the investments we need to give every child – regardless of where they live, or the school they go to – the very best education,” Education Minister James Merlino said.