Families welcome new Catholic school at Austral

 Kate and Rocky Stivala enrol daughter Lily at St Anthony of Padua Catholic School Austral. Photo: Gene Ramirez

Kate and Rocky Stivala enrol daughter Lily at St Anthony of Padua Catholic School Austral. Photo: Gene Ramirez

From the beginning, St Anthony of Padua Catholic School Austral has invited the parents of its inaugural classes to help build a community of faith and learning that will maintain an appreciation for its rural roots.

Kate and Rocky Stivala’s daughter Lily, 5, will join Kindergarten when the school opens in early February next year. Both are members of the St Anthony of Padua Parish and pleased to have a Catholic school option close to home. That the school will grow to cater for students from pre-school to Year 12 is a bonus.

“It’s very exciting,” Mrs Stivala said. “It makes it feel like it will be much more personal, and that Lily won’t just be a drop in the ocean.

“Being brand new appealed to us because all of the facilities would obviously be new, and we were told that they hand pick the teachers to get the best.”

I’d like us to be a school where people can see what we have as a community and think ‘I want to be part of that’

– Lea De Angelis

Foundation principal Lea De Angelis said the school would be guided by St Anthony’s principles of service and welcome, along with the core values of ‘Aspire, achieve, and act’.

“We want our children to be creative and to be critical thinkers – to have the foundational elements of education, literacy and numeracy, down very firmly but also give them a voice in their learning,” she said. “We want to nurture that spark and natural curiosity that you see in a three-year- old, and for them to be life-long learners.

“I’d like us to be a school where people can see what we have as a community and think ‘I want to be part of that’.”

The pre-fabricated buildings that will house Kindergarten students while development continues will be delivered in October. Students and community members will help plant a vegetable patch nearby. The garden aims to connect students to their environment and the area’s rich agricultural history, while flexible learning spaces will nurture students’ curiosity.

Mr Stivala said the emphasis on fostering curiosity would suit Lily well. “She’s really inquisitive,” he said. We do a lot of arts and crafts at home. She likes the learning experience. She’s hungry to learn more and likes to ask a lot of questions.”

With flexible furniture, Lego walls, puzzles and other educational games that encourage curiosity and collaboration, the building that students and parents visit to enrol at the school is a sign of things to come. “I love it,” Mrs Stivala said. “It’s vibrant, colourful and welcoming, especially for the kids. As soon as they come in they feel comfortable.”

A virtual tour, made digitally with artist’s impressions of the finished school, is also part of the enrollment process.

“We really liked the way they presented the plans,” Mr Stivala said. “You see the kids’ faces as soon as they walk in, they’re like ‘wow, I want to go here and I want to go there’. That’s what school should be – something that they want to come to.

“Bringing our kids up in this area, everything is outdoors related. We love that aspect of this school, and that it is going to be a community school. You can have a closer eye on your child’s education and really be involved.”

St Anthony of Padua Catholic School Austral will hold an event to celebrate the feast day of St Anthony at 105 Eleventh Ave, Austral, on Sunday, June 19 from 9am.  The event will include mass, a sausage sizzle, games and tours of the school’s enrollment suite with principal Lea De Angelis. Details: 9606 8600.

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