THE official opening of Foster Primary School’s eye-catching new building housing a resource centre and classrooms – and meeting rooms for the wider community – took place last Friday.
A plaque now hangs on the wall of the building to commemorate the federal government giving $2,125,000 in Building the Education Revolution (BER) funding for this and another major project. This building was funded under the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program, while a refurbishment of the junior school was funded under the National School Pride program.
Both projects were completed earlier this year, providing learning spaces which students and teachers have been delighted to make use of. Landscaping has been taking place in the months since, and Friday was an opportunity to celebrate the completion of the new facilities with Foster Primary School families, friends and special guests.
Library shelves were pushed back to allow plenty of room for children and guests to gather in the spacious new resource centre, which has a soaring ceiling, high windows, skylights and carpet. A purple feature wall adds a splash of colour to what is a predominantly white room. Four classrooms for grades five and six children are located in pairs on either side of this room. These have sliding doors which can be opened up to create even bigger spaces. There is also a preparation area, complete with sink, cupboards and benches, and toilet facilities, and the building has a rainwater tank. Up one end the curved walled ‘hub’ has built-in benches for computers. It is designed as a shared space in which the community is welcome to hold meetings and workshops.
Work has begun on demolishing the former library building, and the old grade five-six classrooms will be removed some time in the future, creating even more playing space at the school.
School principal Fiona Bull welcomed everyone to the opening. Distinguished guests included the federal member for McMillan, Russell Broadbent, the facilities officer at the Gippsland Regional Department of Education office, Mr Peter Juratowitch, South Gippsland Secondary College principal Cheryl Glowrey, Foster Rotary Club president Geoff Treloar, School Council President Craig Stubbings, South Gippsland Shire Councillor Mohya Davies, former school principal Heather Stone and Koori Engagement Support Officer for the Education Department, John Murray.
Mrs Bull invited Mr Murray to acknowledge the traditional owners, and he welcomed everyone on their behalf to Foster.
Mrs Bull said the federal government funding for the new building had been a “bonus” and a “windfall”, arriving without the school community needing to apply for it or the school having to raise it from its own funds.
The design, she said, had been selected by the Education Department, following a template judged appropriate for a school of Foster’s size – around 200 students.
“There has been noise, there has been rain and there have been delays, but we have finally made it, and now have a fantastic learning space,” said Mrs Bull, thanking students, teachers and parents for their patience. “It’s a light and modern environment which allows for flexibility.”
There had, she said, been a state school at Foster for more than 130 years. “It has not always been on the same site, and the buildings have certainly changed since then. We are very lucky to have got this new building, and it should serve the school well for many years to come.”
Musical performances were among the highlights of the opening. The school choir sang several songs, conducted by Jo Moloney, with music teacher Paul Smith accompanying on the piano. A smaller group sang a special song they had written and recorded on a CD with the assistance of local musician and teacher Chris Aitken. The project was commissioned by Foster and District Historical Society and the song recounted how much schooling had changed over 160 years.
Her co-captain, Sharni Cripps, was unfortunately absent due to illness, but school captain Eden Stubbings then spoke about how proud she was to have such a beautiful new school building.
School Council President (and Eden’s father) Craig Stubbings was then invited to officially open the new building.
He remarked that it was a long time since he had been at school – though not 160 years! – and much had changed for the better in the intervening years. He acknowledged the contribution of his fellow councillors, as well as the principal and staff of Foster Primary School, to achieving such a smooth transition into the new building.
“I am very proud of Foster Primary School and its students and all they have achieved. This new building will help them achieve even more,” he said.
Two of the youngest pupils, both of whom come from families with a long association with the school, then helped with the official ribbon cutting. Lachlan Rathjen and Yasmin Duursma (daughter of Susie Green and granddaughter of Pat Green, former teacher at Foster PS) each held an end of the ribbon for school captain Eden Stubbings and School Council President Craig Stubbings to cut, to great applause.
Guests were then invited to inspect the new building and share in a delicious morning tea.