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History

The St Brigid’s Catholic School Community takes great pride in the history of the school and the unique role it has played in Catholic education for the Derwent Valley. Our school is ever mindful of our rich and vibrant past and it endeavours to reflect many aspects of our history and charism in the present running of the school. In looking to the future we strive to continue to provide a valued and authentic educational alternative for Catholics families and the community of the Derwent Valley. Where we have come from:
The present school property was originally known as “Corumbene”, and was owned by the Shoobridge family, pioneers of the hop industry. Early in 1925 the Catholic Church bought Corumbene and in the same year Archbishop Delany approached the Sisters of Charity to administer a school to be developed on the site. Builders, made an immediately start on the construction of a modest two- classroom block.
The October 4th, 1925, setting of the Foundation Stone of the St Brigid’s Convent School marked the beginning of Catholic Education in the Derwent Valley. His Grace, the Archbishop of Hobart, Most Rev. P. Delany, D.D. blessed the stone. He returned on December 27th, 1925, for the grand opening and blessing of the completed building and a week later, January 4th 1926, 80 students commenced their schooling at St Brigid’s. The January commencement of the first term was necessary because at the time all hops in the valley were picked manually and the month of March was “Hop Picking Holidays”. Classes were conducted in the two new classrooms as well as in the Convent itself (Cill Dara).
The first 25 years of St Brigid’s School saw the Sisters of Charity at the helm. During this time the school was held in high esteem within the New Norfolk community and the Sisters won a place in the hearts of many.
In 1950, a new chapter in the history of St Brigid’s began when the Presentation Sisters assumed the running of the school which catered for both secondary and primary students. Gradually new buildings were added – an extension to the original classrooms and later the addition of two new brick classrooms in the early sixties. In 1966 it was decided that secondary students would attend Catholic Colleges in Hobart and that the school would cater for primary students only. This move was deemed necessary in order to meet the greater needs of secondary students in specialised subjects and made possible by improved transport options.

Further growth in school facilities commenced in April 1978 when under the guidance of the Parish Priest, Fr. Peter O’Laughlin two new spacious rooms with all the latest educational facilities were constructed. The classrooms were officially opened and blessed on Sunday, December 3rd, 1978. In 1984 the St. Brigid’s Building programme was extended with the completion of a new multi-purpose room, administration area and staff room. This was officially opened by Prof. Selby Smith and blessed by Mgr. Green on Sunday, May 20th, 1984. In 1987 a $137,000 refurbishment and addition to the original school building, and a new toilet block were completed. This brought the facilities at St. Brigid’s up to a very high standard with the incorporation of a Special Education area and a new library.

In 1992 the Presentation Sisters ended their role as administrators of the school. Consequently, in January 1993, Mr Sean Gill (1993 – 2001) was appointed the first lay principal of St Brigid’s School. The changing emphasis in education and the drift of years had produced many developments at St. Brigid’s Catholic School, but the people of New Norfolk will long remember the warmth and dedication of the Sisters who followed their commitment to Christ while educating hundreds of students between 1926 and 1992. With the appointment of the first lay principal another important chapter in the school’s history began.

2000 saw the school administration area moved to historic Cill Dara, which had been extensively renovated to accommodate offices, a staff room, a meeting room and a staff preparation area. During 2001 application was made for a grant to build two new classrooms for Prep and Grade One, to refurbish the Grade Six room and to demolish two classrooms and renew this space as an outdoor assembly area. Work on the new building and refurbishment began in August 2001 and was completed in February 2002. The new classrooms were officially blessed and opened on May 22nd of that year by His Grace Archbishop Doyle and Senator Guy Barnett.

In 2002, Mr Peter McBain (2002 - 2007) commenced his principalship at St Brigid’s. Change, development and modernisation continued. The beginning of 2004 heralded the commencement of the first Kindergarten Class. The year 2006 saw the celebration of Eighty Years of Catholic Education in the Derwent Valley and also the 100th Anniversary of the Cill Dara building. In 2007, the Investing on Our Schools Program funding allowed the grass resurfacing of the oval and the bitumen resurfacing of the hardstand play area thus greatly improving the condition of play areas for the 200+ St Brigid’s Catholic School students.

In 2008, Ms Joy Matar assumed the principalship at St Brigid’s Catholic School. Throughout 2008 the focus was very much on improving educational outcomes for all students and, with the support of the school community and the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office, developing a comprehensive Capital Works Master Plan. This plan proved to put St Brigid’s in a very timely position when in early 2009 the Australian Government announced its Nation Building Economic Stimulus Package which included considerable funding for primary school capital works programs.

Mid 2010 saw the exciting completion of major capital works made possible through the Australian Government’s Building the Educational Revolution (BER) program. $2 420 000 allowed the construction of a multipurpose hall with kitchen, toilet, staging and storage facilities and an Early Childhood learning area, the extensive redevelopment and extension of three general learning areas and a new library area and associated groundwork, Kindergarten playground, courtyard and travel areas. The facilities provide modern learning areas, which foster current trends in learning and teaching and community involvement. The Australian Government’s PRIDE in our Schools program provided funds ($125 000) to establish double netball courts on river flats below the main school site and supported the installing of wireless technology throughout the school. Both BER and PRIDE works, which were official opened and blessed by the Director for Catholic Education, Dr Trish Hindmarsh and Archbishop Adrian Doyle DD on 8 April 2011, were welcomed by the school community.

Following the completion of the major works a Reconciliation Garden and Reflection Area was established at one end of the playground court area and students’ vegetable gardens positioned at the other. The river flat area thus became a multiuse area catering for various aspects and a focus area for school learning programs.

During 2011 a State Grant of $305,000 was utilised to complete the upgrading of the remaining general learning areas at St Brigid’s. The Kindergarten / Prep classrooms were extended and modernized and the original 1926 school building underwent another transformation to establish it as the Grade 5 & 6 learning area.

The two years of facilities building and upgrades at St Brigid’s Catholic School has matched and complemented the vision for a collaboration learning community, utilising spaces which are agile and transformable. And so, while remembering and honouring the past the

St Brigid’s Catholic School Community continues to look to the future with pride and confidence as we realise our Vision and live out our Mission. 

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