In any given week, there are hundreds if not thousands of exciting things happening in Melbourne’s Catholic school communities. Here we share just three inspiring initiatives that were celebrated in our schools over the past week.

Rich in faith and knowledge

Melbourne’s newest Catholic school, St Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Primary School, Tarneit North, has been officially opened and blessed.

Located in Melbourne’s growing western suburbs, the school joins three other Catholic primary schools and a Catholic secondary college in the St James the Apostle Parish of Hoppers Crossing North. The school’s first stage comprises a double-storey building with nine general learning areas, collaborative spaces, quiet room, administration, sick bay, staffroom, meeting rooms, ‘multi court’ and outdoor play areas.

Guests at the opening included the Executive Director of Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS), Dr Edward Simons; St James the Apostle Parish Priest Fr Jude Pirotta; Mayor of Wyndham City Cr Jennie Barrera; and representatives from MACS.

‘You’re the most important people here, and those students that come after you in the years to come will know how fortunate they are to come to a school like this,’ said Dr Simons. ‘I only have one request of you: to make the most of every opportunity you possibly can in this amazing space to learn.’

Following a blessing from Bishop Martin Ashe, foundation Principal Robyn Kelly thanked the families who chose St Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Primary School for their children. ‘The respect and passion our parents have shown for Catholic education is humbling’, she said. ‘Thank you to the parents for fitting into our school family, and we look forward to working alongside you to ensure your children have an education that is rich in faith and knowledge.’

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Founding Principal Robyn Kelly speaks at the opening of St Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Primary School in Tarneit North.

A sports uniform thousands of years in the making

One of Melbourne’s oldest schools has made an important change to its uniform to reflect a much longer history. The community at St Mary’s School, Williamstown, has launched a sports uniform that weaves together the story of the school and the local area.

Created by artist Mandi Barton, the design’s individual elements make reference to the families of the school, Bunjil the eagle of the Boonwurrung people, coastal shell middens and canoes travelling over water. In Aboriginal art, circles often represent meeting points, and the main circle contains a cross to symbolise Christ as the centre of the school. The new sports uniform promotes a greater understanding and awareness of the school’s history prior to European settlement, and its commitment to ongoing recognition and reconciliation.

‘What we have done is created something special, with a shared story sitting proudly on our uniform giving our students a connection to land and history,’ said Principal Anthony Hockey. The uniform was launched with a traditional smoking ceremony at the school.

Seeds of hope

The inspiration for ‘Sustainable Food Tuesday’—which ran as part of Laudato Si’ Week (19–26 May)—comes from Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, which observed that ‘approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor” (§50).

As part of the Circular Economy Program at St Monica’s College, Epping, students collect food scraps and freshly picked weeds to feed the school chickens, and sell eggs to staff.

This is one of co-curricular sustainability initiatives at the college that have earned the team of 90 students recognition as a finalist in this year’s ResourceSmart Schools Awards Student Action Team of the Year—Secondary.

The student team also visits the school’s wetland on a weekly basis to conduct clean-ups, weeding, planting, aquatic pest removal and biodiversity audits. The students’ presentation at the Whittlesea Council environmental conference on their goal for enhancing biodiversity in the wetland was well received.

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A group of St Monica’s College students record bird sounds as part of a project to enhance biodiversity in the school’s wetland.

One student even programmed a Raspberry Pi computer to record bird sounds from the school’s wetland, contributing to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology collection.

St Monica’s College has also been recognised as a finalist for Curriculum Leadership School of the Year—Secondary for its Year 9 STEM program, in which students were encouraged to think about passive design, sustainable materials and thermal comfort when building a tiny house using laser cutters.

Winners of the 2024 ResourceSmart Schools Awards will be announced at an event on Tuesday 4 June.

Banner image: (from left) Fr Jude Pirotta (Parish Priest, St James the Apostle Parish, Hoppers Crossing), Bishop Martin Ashe, Robyn Kelly (Principal, St Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Primary School) and Dr Edward Simons (Executive Director, MACS) at the opening and blessing of the new school.

All photos courtesy of MACS.