By Pam Kiriakidis
NEW students at Donnybrook Primary School and Wollert Secondary College made history last Tuesday, celebrating the schools’ official openings with teachers, parents and parliamentarians.
Donnybrook Primary School and Wollert Secondary College were among 12 schools across Melbourne’s outer suburbs to open for the first time in 2023.
Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins officially opened the schools and spoke to students about their historical contributions.
“You will be the first students to run on that gym floor in there, you’ll be the first students to learn English and maths in your classrooms, you’ll be the first students to perform up on this stage,” she said at Donnybrook Primary School’s opening.
With the population growth across Melbourne’s north, Ms Hutchins said areas such as Donnybrook and Wollert were destined for great education.
“Having a school that kids can walk to is extremely important in building local community, but also teaching independence for kids as well. Having something that they can get to themselves and engage in is really important. Also supporting employment in the local area for teachers,” she said.
Donnybrook Primary School principal Dave Williams said he was thrilled to welcome 120 students to the school, which would rapidly grow in the next few years.
Mr Williams said the first week was a ‘positive start’ with new routines and buildings, such as the gymnasium, for the year ahead.
“We had such a positive start to learning … three great days of building school structures and routines, making our school a safe and happy place for great learning to occur, and now we’re underway [with] the day-to-day tasks,” he said.
While most of the school is still under construction, Mr Williams said it would be an asset to the Donnybrook community as it continued to gradually develop .
“This is the first piece of government infrastructure in the community, we can be a real hub for allied health, for local sporting organisations [and] community organisations, to welcome them to work in partnership to use our facilities, but also build relationships with other groups in the community so that we’re connected,” he said.
Member for Yan Yean Lauren Kathage helped officially open the school and said the school was a ‘new start’ for a community that could now receive education closer to home.
Wollert Secondary College, in Wollert East, greeted two year seven classes that will progress through the year levels thereafter.
The first stage of the school has space for 700 students, including about 50 places for young people with specialist needs as the new school is a supported inclusive school.
Principal Melissa Lozanovski said students were ‘beautifully settled’ in the first week, exploring the new grounds and engaging in lunchtime activities in the Redgum Gymnasium and Redgum Learning Centre.
“We had been in operation for a week and our year started without a glitch. Our facilities were ready to go and so were we,” she said.
Ms Lozanovski said she was honoured to open the school with fellow community members, including Member for Thomastown Bronwyn Halfpenny, Victorian Building Association representatives, architects and families who contributed to the school’s learning opportunities.
“To be given the opportunity to build something from the ground up is an incredible opportunity,” she said.