One of Gunnedah’s oldest schools had a modern update with new facilities which embrace a new age of teaching.

St Xavier’s Primary School’s new facilities were in stark contrast to what was first established in 1879 by the Sisters of Mercy. At its core, however, a Catholic school still remains.

Staff and students have been operating in the new classrooms and library since last year but an official opening and blessing was held on Friday.

The new building took three years of construction and planning with input from staff and professionals envisioning what is now the result.

On the Friday, all students and staff along with honoured guests took their seat under the one roof.

Malcolm Frend was the master-of- ceremonies and with speeches from principal Jen Honner, director of Armidale Diocesan Catholic Schools Chris Smyth and Member for Parkes Mark Coulton.

A message was read from NSW Minister for Education Jason Clare along with an acknowledgement of country led by Cruze Morley.

Invited guests included Shadow Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell, Gunnedah Shire mayor Jamie Chaffey and chief executive officer of Catholic schools Dallas McInerney and Fr Abmar Dumayag. Monsignor Ted Wilkes had the honour of blessing the new facilities and children were ecstatic to participate in the blessing.

The blessing was paired with the sounds of the primary school’s choir.

Monsignor Ted Wilkes blessing the plaque.

Mr Smyth stressed the vital funding required for the building in his speech.

The federal government contributed $3.3 million while the local and Catholic Schools’ Office contributed a total of $9.36 million to the building.

“We can never take government funding for granted and we must appreciate the financial collaboration that was achieved in order to complete a project of this magnitude,” Mr Smyth said.

The rooms feature glass walls where teachers can choose to ‘open up’ or ‘close’ a classroom allowing students and teachers more freedom for different education techniques.

The space has classrooms along the outskirts of the building with a central library.

“The energy for change must support this vision as schools adapt to our contemporary world. The traditional model of schooling came from another time in history,” Mr Smyth said.

“This celebration today is as much about the building as it is about the energy of the leaders and staff to create a new approach to learning and teaching in a primary school.

“Schools like St Xavier’s are designed so that our young people are not left behind as our world continues to change.”

Principal Jen Honner’s dedicated Catholic career started at St Xavier’s and has overseen the intricacies of planning and consultations with professionals and staff.

The long list of thanks extended from staff and project workers to the students and parents and carers.

She described the contemporary learning space as a symbol of “progress” and “innovation”.

“The design of this building is a direct result of new learning, a relentless focus on improving student outcomes, an urgent desire to build collaboration and systemness,” Ms Honner said.

“Let us continue to foster an environment where curiosity is celebrated, diversity is embraced and kindness is paramount.”

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