St Patrick’s Mortlake opens to a new generation

St Patrick’s Catholic Primary Mortlake’s foundation families found plenty to appreciate on their first day of belonging at the new school.

A group of 47 Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 students greeted their peers and teachers with their parents by their side when school began on Tuesday. They played in their new classroom spaces with writable desks, colourful building blocks, drawing materials and books until it was time for lessons to start. Parents then met in the Parish backyard for ‘Tea and Tissues’ and the chance to get to know each other further.

The original St Patrick’s Primary School in Mortlake opened in 1895 to educate the children of the nearby gasworks’ many Irish Catholic employees, and closed in 1959.  It will grow to teach all grades from Kindergarten to Year 6, with a child-centred approach to teaching and learning that will foster curiosity and independence as well as key skills in all areas of the curriculum.

The teachers feel really privileged to be part of this journey.

– Mandy Westgate

Dr Dan White meets one of St Patrick’s new students. Photo: Kitty Beale

Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools Dr Dan White said he was thrilled with already growing sense of community at the new St Patrick’s and pleased to see its heritage renewed.

“It’s very exciting after more than 60 years of the original school and a period of closure that it has been reborn for a new generation of families in the Mortlake area,” he said. “From the first day of planning through to this exciting milestone the commitment and the passion of staff, teachers and parish has been remarkable.”

Principal Mandy Westgate said she was excited to see the first day of the school run smoothly, and the parents she had once taught choose St Patrick’s for their own children. She said orientation had calmed any student or parent anxiety about the first day.

“The children have settled in very comfortably and we’ve had wonderful support from Sydney Catholic Schools,” she said. “The teachers feel really privileged to be part of this journey and they’ve taken it on with gusto. It’s an absolute honour to be principal of a school like this. This is my home turf so it makes it even more special.”

Parish priest Monsignor John Usher also praised the Catholic education body and St Patrick’s staff for their part in the life of the new school.

“St Patrick’s has a wonderful principal and teachers,” he said. “I’d like to congratulate Sydney Catholic Schools on having the confidence to look after this area which is a growing area of young families. We baptised about 100 children last year and those children will come through the school.”

I’m happy that Amalia is entering this new phase.

– Hernan Reyes

Dong Jin and Myeonghwa Kim moved to Australia from Korea three weeks ago, and said St Patrick’s would provide a good education along with opportunities for their daughter Soyul, in Year 1, to make friends with children from different cultural backgrounds.

“At a Catholic school Soyul will get a good quality education so this is a good opportunity for her,” Mr Kim said. “It will widen her horizons. She’s excited and a little bit worried about the new circumstances and new friends. I believe that she will interact well with the other students. ”

Mrs Kim said she had slept little the night before Soyul’s first day of school, but was excited for her daughter’s future.

“I look forward to her new adventure and believe absolutely that it will be a good experience for her and her future,” she said.

What the parents said:

Christina Moravski, mum to Harrasem, 5:

“He’s so excited. He’s been singing the ‘Do you know I’m going to school’ song all morning. They learnt it for their daycare graduation. The space looks great, it’s really exciting, and the teachers are great. We chose St Patrick’s because it has a lovely parish and is very close to us. We liked the idea of it being a community school and wanted a Catholic education for Harrasem.”

Hernan Reyes, dad to Amalia, 5:

“I have mixed feelings. I’m happy that Amalia is entering this new phase and sad she is leaving the previous one. We’ve been slowly seeding the expectations [of big school]: different play, more learning and slightly different friends. A the end of the day you’re rewarded by a little bit more – an extra letter in the alphabet, an extra ‘why’ question.”

Stevan Vuk- Luboya, dad to Mila, 5:

“Normally the first day of school there’s a bit of a goodbye and tears but the attitude is ‘give me your kids and go home’.  I’ve never seen this many parents arrive so early for the first day and be able to hang around, so this is awesome. It’s Mila’s first day of big school and she’s so ready to be here. On Monday she came to school for orientation and told her mum to go away because she wanted to stay here the whole day.

“I’m very excited. I think she’s going to grow and learn a lot here.”

Maria Vuk-Luboya, mum to Mila:

“Mila is my second child so I’ve had a bit of practice. This is a sad and a happy day for me because in one way she’s growing up and starting a different stage of her life. I’m happy about that.

“It’s a really nice space for the number of kids they have enrolled and quite modern and spacious.”


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