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www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
St Aloysius students revel in their new learning spaces. Photo courtesy of Priscilla Scanlon.
IT'S A KIND OF MAGIC
A NEW CHAPTER
When 85 year-old Marie Euston (nee Wynne, pictured on cover) went to St
Aloysius Girls High in Hamilton, she studied typewriting, shor thand and book
keeping. 70 year s on and this Februar y Marie walked through the gates on Day
One at the Hunter's newest Catholic School, St Aloysius at Chisholm, where her
gr andson Brock is enrolled and where a different sor t of 'type-writing' will take
place in a ver y different style of cla ssroom.
"For my era and my age, St Aloysius at Chisholm is just something totally different
and I'm happy to work with that," Marie said excitedly.
Featuring learning commons, cur ved lounges , movable walls between
classrooms and tables with whiteboard surfaces, students such as Brock won't
be confined to a traditional desk and will be encouraged to learn across multiple
environments, including outdoors.
"It's a new tr adition for Brock and I'm happy to be par t of it," Marie said. "Whilst
ever I'm still here, I can follow on with new traditions and change."
In 2013 when Catholic Bishop Bill Wright fir st announced the school would be
called 'St Aloysius', af ter the patron saint of young students and youth gener ally,
St Aloysius Gonzaga, Marie said she was excited. "I said to Brock, that's where
Grandma went to school. At fir st that's all I was excited about; the name ! " she
laughed. However, af ter meeting the Principal, Suzanne Fer n, and touring the
classrooms and facilities where her gr andson will be educated, Marie said she's
committed to the new school community and is looking for ward to being par t of
"The school's great, the chapel is enor mous...it's definitely different but to me, I
went back to my days and I'm going to be involved at St Aloysius."
BY EMMA BLACKFORD
St Aloysius Primar y School, Chisholm
opened its door s on Monday 2 Febr uary.
As the Foundation Principal, it was be
a ver y proud moment for me and the
culmination of an extremely busy year,
with so much more to come.
There are many things that make the
Hunter's newest school distinctive, -- the
gla ss walls, climbing rocks and a 'shoes
off in class' policy ! All these are new and
exciting, but their main purpose is to
suppor t the learning processes we are
trying to build at St Aloysius.
Contempor ar y lear ning methods stress
the impor tance of teacher s and children
working together collabor atively, teaching
the students to solve problems and
showing them how to set goals and
achieve them. The buildings and fur nitur e
help, but it is the collabor ative mindset
that will distinguish St Aloysius.
We want all our students to be engaged
with, and take responsibility for, their
own lear ning. Already, we are giving our
students oppor tunities to demonstrate
this. When they have master ed a concept,
some students have been making shor t
tutorials on iPads which they then share
with students who haven't yet fully
under stood. Peer to peer lear ning is
just one way we are empowering our
students to master concepts and feel
Our students have embraced the
process we have introduced for working
collabor atively, -- cave, campfire and
watering hole; three distinct and equally
impor tant learning spaces they use
throughout the day. When the teacher
wants them together, it's 'campfire'
time. This is when they gather on the
modular lounges. When they need to
work in small groups to solve problems,
they gather at a 'watering hole' of their
choice, either inside or outside. And
of cour se we all need to retreat to our
'cave' sometimes to work on our own!
These lear ning spaces are linked to their
individual goals and working towards
We are r aising the bar and the children
are rising to the challenge.
Our school community is blessed to have
a diverse team of committed and caring
teacher s and staff who have all embraced
the 21st century learning philosophy
of our school. They are also stepping
up -- sharing infor mation, working
collabor atively and going the extr a mile. It
is very important to me that the staff of
St Aloysius have as many oppor tunities a s
the students to experience success.
We worked hard last year to build a
school community as the children of St
Aloysius have come together from 31
different schools. Throughout 2014, our
families had many oppor tunities to gather
together and for m relationships. We
are now reaping the benefits of having
these excited, enthusiastic and connected
families keen to play an active role in
our school. We have for med around 20
committees covering every conceivable
aspect of school life -- unifor m, canteen,
gardening, social, playgroup, ICT, admin
and library suppor t, spor t and coaching
and building/maintenance committees, to
name just some! It is my aim for every
family to feel it's made a contribution by
the end of the year.
We are also an impor tant par t of the
Chisholm community and we are looking
at oppor tunities to allow the people of
this ar ea to gather together at events like
monthly markets and Christmas Carols.
We ar e in an ideal situation to create
authentic r elationships within our local
The children ar rive at school with
smiles on their faces; they already know
their voice is being heard and they are
excited by their new lear ning spaces.
It's a beautiful feeling when you walk in
because of the colour s and the thoughtful
design of the buildings and landscaping. It's
a blessing to have the staff, the children,
the families and the community that we
do and when you put that mix together,
it's a kind of magic!
St Aloysius is the first newly established
school in the diocese in 30 years. The
first stage of building (at an approximate
cost of $8 million) was funded by the
Diocesan Schools Building Fund and a
Commonwealth Government Grant.
Please visit mn.catholic.edu.au.
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