Place of opportunity

The Smithton High School redevelopment project was officially opened on Friday where principal Keith Billing (pictured) unveiled the plaque. Students, staff and visitors, including Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff, also viewed the student-led Tunnerminnerwait documentary. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Education. The $7 million Smithton High School redevelopment project was officially opened at the school on Friday.

Past and present students and staff joined with local councillors, community members and politicians at the event, held in the $3.5 million gymnasium established at the school two years earlier.

The state government funded project includes a new library, science laboratory, four classrooms allocated to each grade, drama theatre, music space and hospitality kitchen and cafe.

In opening the new facilities, Minister for Education and Training Jeremy Rockliff acknowledged the work of Philp Lighton Architects and Stubbs Construction throughout the two year project.

“From the start, community support for the redevelopment was at a very high level,” he said, also making mention of the contributions of parents and friends and the wider community. 

“Students also played an integral role in the planning process and their input was paramount into the design process from start to completion.”

Mr Rockliff said the redevelopment would allow the school to grow its attendance capacity and provide a wider range of opportunities for students.

One of those new learning opportunities is in the form of the library space, formerly used as grade nine classrooms.

“It’s great that our architects were able to incorporate part of the original building – that was opened in 1938 – into the design,” said principal Keith Billing.

“We have only been able to access the whole rebuild since week five of term three, but wow was it worth the wait.

“At the end of 2015, a decision was made to use the old primary school across the road – a place we affectionately call Southside – as a space for our grade nine and 10s.

“This worked extremely well . . . the old building hummed with energy not witnessed since 1983. Here on the north side, grades seven and eight crammed into the technology block.”

Throughout the project, staff and students have juggled working in a construction zone with grace.

“There were quite a few wet journeys for both staff and students,” as many areas became isolated and only accessible externally for some time.

“For term one, we still had the old library but during the holidays we moved into the new library space and then the demolition was really bumped up a level.”

At the assembly the student-led Tunnerminnerwait project was presented and screened as a documentary.

The redevelopment was completed under budget earlier this year, allowing the school to utilise the funds elsewhere. This money was used to upgrade year seven amenities, restructure administration facilities and construct a single lane bus loop which will connect Mill Road and Fenton Street while staff parking is relocated to the current bus zone.

Due to safety concerns, Southside – the former Smithton Public School – was demolished during the redevelopment.

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