St Luke’s marks 30-year milestone

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Past and present stu­dents and staff of St Luke’s Col­lege came to­gether to share sto­ries and rem­i­nisce on the week­end as the school of­fi­cially cel­e­brated its 30- year an­niver­sary.

St Luke’s is the only se­condary Catholic school in the Pil­bara and has been run­ning since 1987. This month was an op­por­tu­nity for school com­mu­nity mem­bers to re­flect on how much it has grown and changed along the way.

Three decades of his­tory at St Luke’s was on dis­play on Satur­day after­noon, when the col­lege put on a his­tor­i­cal ex­hi­bi­tion ar­ranged by staff and gave vis­i­tors a tour of the grounds.

It was fol­lowed at night by a gala din­ner in the school gym­na­sium.

Former prin­ci­pal Peter Bothe acted as MC, as past stu­dents and staff took to the stage to speak about their ex­pe­ri­ences at the school and re­flect on its milestone.

St Luke’s Col­lege prin­ci­pal Alanna Ot­way wel­comed the crowd and spoke about the col­lege’s fo­cus on faith.

“More than 30 years ago there was a vi­sion in our com­mu­nity for Catholic education in the Pil­bara,” she said.

“St Paul’s Pri­mary School was al­ready be­ing op­er­ated by the Pre­sen­ta­tion Sis­ters, and there was a thought in the com­mu­nity that a se­condary Catholic education was both nec­es­sary and valu­able in the re­gion.

“This then be­came a joint ven­ture be­tween the Chris­tian Broth­ers and the Pre­sen­ta­tion Sis­ters, whose dual ethos still binds us to­day. To­day we are still the only Catholic se­condary school in the Pil­bara.”

Mrs Ot­way said the school had de­vel­oped sig­nif­i­cantly since then, es­pe­cially with a se­ries of in­fras­truc­ture up­grades and ad­di­tions in the past few years in­clud­ing a new class­room block, per­form­ing arts cen­tre and a trade train­ing cen­tre.

St Luke’s Col­lege first opened on Fe­bru­ary 4, 1987, with 92 stu­dents across two Year 8 classes and one Year 9 class, five teach­ers and two of­fice staff.

A hand­ful of the orig­i­nal staff and stu­dents at­tended the Satur­day night event, among them found­ing staff mem­ber and Chris­tian Brother Olly Pick­ett.

He said the idea for the school had be­gun in 1986 when Kar­ratha Se­nior High School, then the only se­condary school in the area, was reach­ing ca­pac­ity and the WA gov­ern­ment con­tacted the Catholic education sys­tem re­quest­ing they staff another school if the gov­ern­ment helped to fund it.

He said with lim­ited time and resources to get a new school up and run­ning in the harsh Pil­bara con­di­tions, all com­mu­nity mem­bers had to chip in, be­gin­ning a sense of ca­ma­raderie and ser­vice that had en­dured.

“Be­ing a foun­da­tion mem­ber of St Luke’s Col­lege was very ex­cit­ing and very chal­leng­ing,” he said.

“We had four tem­po­rary class­rooms and a tem­po­rary of­fice build­ing — all made of gyprock.

“Only the of­fice build­ing had air con­di­tion­ing and, with the high tem­per­a­tures in Kar­ratha in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, it was dif­fi­cult for stu­dents and teach­ers alike.

“We had no run­ning wa­ter on site and we used the toi­lets in the Kar­ratha li­brary.”

Former stu­dents rem­i­nisced on their favourite memories with night-time hikes for the Duke of Ed­in­burgh Awards, drama per­for­mances and the now-tra­di­tional king and queen of the moun­tain race all rat­ing as highlights.

Speak­ing at the din­ner, for­m­er­stu­dent-turned-teacher at St Luke’s Brooke Pol­lard said she cred­ited her de­ci­sion to go into teach­ing with her pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence at the high school.

“At St Luke’s, the gym may have been ex­tended, there may be new build­ings, but one thing that’s stayed the same is the qual­ity of teach­ers that share a pas­sion for education and a com­mit­ment to our kids,” she said.

Found­ing priest and Bish­opElect for the Dio­cese of Ger­ald­ton, Fa­ther Michael Mor­ris­sey, spoke via video con­grat­u­lat­ing the school for reach­ing 30 years, an achieve­ment he said was very sig­nif­i­cant in a coun­try area.

The an­niver­sary week­end fin­ished on Sun­day morn­ing with a com­mem­o­ra­tive mass.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

The St Luke's Col­lege 30th an­niver­sary or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee.

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