Mansfield Secondary College was privileged to welcome the Minister for Education Hon James Merlino MP, to officially open the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) building on Thursday March 14.
A crowd of several hundred people; students, staff, parents, friends, architects, builders and a media cohort, gathered for the ceremony.
At the Minister’s invitation, the whole student body counted in Indonesian to herald the cutting of the ribbon and unveiling of the plaque.
Both the opening and closing of the ceremony show-cased skills developed in Mansfield Secondary College’s outstanding Music program. The VCE band accompanied Allison Crawford, who sang several songs. Charlotte Howie and Sally Beautyman also performed musical items.
When welcoming Minister Merlino, Principal Mr Timothy Hall expressed excitement about the opportunities the new facility will provide, to deliver high end academic outcomes for students.
‘Maths, Science and Technology classes have already been held in the new, state-of- the art building since the start of the 2019 school year. When the second stage of the building is completed next year, there will also be state of-the-art facilities for teaching Creative Arts, Manufacturing and Design’, he explained.
Prior to declaring the new building open, Minister Merlino spoke at length with school captains, prefects and year 9 students Mitchell Russell, Max Bennett, Alicia Fox and Kate Thomson, about their school, tertiary education aspirations and career plans.
Year 12 prefect, Jacinda Dixon-Rielly later commented that in discussions with the Minister, students had explained that,
‘Mansfield Secondary College offers students a variety of unique opportunities, from the school music program to Agribusiness, the ski program, Mt Buller Annex, School Based Apprenticeships and a popular Indonesian language program from years 7-12. VCE Indonesian classes are currently studied by Distance Education. Hopefully, there will be Indonesian classes at VCE level soon.’
In his opening address Minister Merlino noted that the students had expressed their desire for more new facilities, to match the high quality teaching at Mansfield Secondary College.
Minister Merlino drew attention to the fact that students who are 15 years old now, can expect to have 17 jobs, across five different careers in their lifetime.
‘75% of our growth industries will need employees with Maths and Science skills,’ he said.
‘To grow those industries, employers will need people with skills in collaboration, leadership, initiative and innovation’.
Both Mr Hall and Mansfield Shire Council Mayor Mr Harry Westendorp highlighted the changing demographics of Mansfield.
Young families make up the biggest growth sector.
According to Mr Hall, this has dramatic implications.
‘The number of students attending Mansfield Secondary College is predicted to grow from 440 this year to 770 by 2023. That is an extra 320 students.
So, we need to plan for a lot more facilities and more staff to cater for so many more students.’
Shire President Harry Westendorp highlighted how Mansfield Secondary College and Mansfield Shire Council enjoy a close working relationship for the benefit of the whole community.
‘Together, we provide shared facilities for the Secondary College, community groups and individuals. The Performing Arts Centre, owned by Mansfield Shire, is located on school land and the Shire’s Sports Stadium is extensively used by College classes. The school is an integral part of our community.’
If funding is provided for a second indoor basketball court, the Secondary College’s new basketball stadium will meet the burgeoning needs of not only schools, but also the community.