VPAC Opening

Today is an extremely special day in the history of St James College, a school that has served our community of parishes for 47 years.

Not only do we dedicate this new Arts Centre but it is a Centre that will add to the resources available to the young men and to the families of St James College.

Over the past 47 years, St James College has been the realisation of the dreams of many. The site of the building we are blessing and dedicating to the education of our young men and the recognition of their talents, stands on the site of some of the early buildings of the Parish of St Peters, and thus St James College.

In the formation of St James College in the late 60s and early 70s, those who took part in the planning for the College may have dreamed of better things for the future, however, they would have had no concept of the style of facilities we are blessing and opening today.

Today, St James College is an amazing school where students, staff and parents are involved in positive relationships and thus form strong partnerships - as per our College Motto – Unity in Christ - to provide learning opportunities for our young men.

Being a Middle Years school of around 400 students, it offers a unique pastoral atmosphere and has served the families of its 10 parish communities loyally and faithfully over all these years, and I have no doubt will continue to do so well into the future.

Today, we come to dedicate another building and its facilities in the words of St John Baptist De La Salle, “for the human and Christian education” of our young men.

While this new building and its facilities are very impressive, and much needed, the most important thing is that they enable us to provide better opportunities for those people who are associated with the educational processes of St James College, primarily our young men and our staff.

New buildings are wonderful, but it will be the students, the staff and our College community who use this building and the facilities that will make them become what they are intended to be.

The building that we are gathered today to dedicate, is to be called the Visual and Performing Arts Centre, principally because it contains spaces for Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Music, a studio theatre, a space for food technology and a gallery/foyer area for the display of art work. As well there has been a rejuvenation and landscaping of the surrounding areas at the front of the school.

The Architects, as part of their brief, have described the building as a Centre for Celebration, and I think this term fits so well for this facility – a facility where we can celebrate the work of our students and of our staff!

A landmark building such as this also provides much more for our school. It offers hopes and expectations, opportunities, and the spaces for new subjects, programs and initiatives all for the benefit of our young men.

Of course the realisation of these facilities has not come about without a great deal of planning, expertise and labour, and for all this I would like to draw attention to the efforts of some.

Firstly, for their continual support in all that is St James College and especially this project, the Canonical Administrators – our Parish Priests of the region.

We thank Catholic Education Melbourne for guidance and support for this project, and assistance with the necessary administrative and logistical details in a project of this size.

Thank you to the members of the St James College Board, for their continual support and encouragement.

For the planning, consultation & design work, and the supervision of the project, I would like to acknowledge and thank our Architects from Williams Ross. I also thank the staff of St James College for their input to our Masterplan, and I thank our Arts staff for their input and advice for this Centre during planning and construction.

The actual construction of the building and the surrounds was undertaken by Lloyd Group Constructions and we thank their team, and in particular our supervisor, Ash Stanton, for which nothing was too difficult, and for his considerations to ensure the building works did not interrupt the daily operations of the College.

The costing of the project is $5.4m. This has been funded from two main sources – College savings from family contributions, and through a loan from the Catholic Development Fund.

As our young men and staff realise, and as you will see, the result of all of this work is outstanding!

Stephen Pooley

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