The story of St Agnes' Primary School began in 1982. The $600,000 school was initially an extension of St Joseph's Primary School in Bay Street Port Macquarie. Even though St Joseph's Primary School had only moved to new premises two and a half years earlier, they had outgrown their classroom capacity. In February of 1982, the land on Boronia Street was cleared, and five months later, the school was ready. The movement of furniture and equipment to St Agnes primary school took place on Saturday, 17 July, with the help of parents and staff. Two hundred eight students commenced school on Monday, 19 July. The school consisted of one class in each grade from Kindergarten to Year 6.
Sister Peter Julian, a Josephite nun, was the principal of both St Joseph's and St Agnes', as the two schools were run as one primary school. The staff included an Assistant Principal, Miss Anne Horton, Sister Juliana and six lay teachers, a secretary and a teacher's aide.
The Blessing and Opening by the Most Reverend Bishop John S Satterthwaite and Mother Cletus, the Mother General of Lochinvar, took place on Friday, 23 July 1982, at 10.00 am Other official guests at the opening included Mr John Kelly, Director of Catholic Education in the Lismore Diocese Sister Ruth, Superior General of the Sisters of St Joseph and Port Macquarie Parish Priest Father Leo Donnelly. More than 200 parents and friends attended the opening, as did the students from St Joseph's Primary School.
The first panel below begins with the symbol of the Josephite order, which introduced Catholic Education to the Port Macquarie area, followed by the St Agnes Parish and the St Agnes Primary school logo and identity.
The date the school opened follows. The idea of the new school to be built is represented by the turning of the sod, the germinating seed – a theme revisited in later panels- the front loader and the brickwork, also a reoccurring theme.
The St Agnes' Primary School used the Parish Symbol of St Agnes, the lamb on the bible, as its school logo. The motto is 'Grace and Truth in Christ.' The first year of St Agnes School was busy, and many events were celebrated. The school participated in both parish and community events.
On 2 December, Sister Peter Jullian announced her transfer to Canberra. Sister Peter Julian had been in Port Macquarie for six years. Sister Margaret Anne Geatches was to be her replacement at St Joseph's School. Mr Des Grissell was appointed principal of St Agnes' Primary School. Jeanette Buckley was to be the new Assistant Principal for 1984. St Agnes' Primary School was to become an individual entity.
On 10 February 1984, the first Aggies Articles were published. All new staff, families and those returning to St Agnes' were warmly welcomed. St Agnes' also established their new Sports House: - Clarence, Boronia, Flinders and Kennedy at this time. Another important group were also established- 'The St Agnes' Parents and Friends Association'.
A tribute to the Sports houses.
1984 was to be a year of many firsts for St Agnes'. We held our inaugural Swimming Carnival, Athletics Carnival, School Assemblies and weekly class awards, Anzac Day wreath laying by our School Captains, a celebration of St Agnes' Feast Day with the Parish, Book Week Parades, Education Week, raising money for the Missions, School Masses and the Fete. Many school traditions were established in 1984. School Eucharistic and Sacramental celebrations were established, and our School Chaplains and Father Donnelly became regular visitors to the school
In 1985 there were three new staff members, including Mr Geoff Geaney, who was to be the new Primary Assistant Principal and a resource teacher. Sister Anne-Maree Lavis joined the staff and continued St Agnes' association with the Sisters of St Joseph. There was also the addition of an eighth class, a composite 2/3.
By September 1985, the school's total enrolment was 231. By 1986 the school was welcoming three new staff members and many new families. There were now nine primary classes. The staff had increased to fourteen. This included a part-time teacher and teacher's aide. The increased enrolment brought many challenges, one being that St Agnes wished to continue to be a small school. Many things were put in place to ensure the 'small school family environment' would remain at the core of the school as it increased in size.
In April of 1986, it was announced that two new classrooms would be constructed in Term 2. These classrooms were the result of two years of negotiations with the Commonwealth Government. The parish would supplement the shortfall in finance.
By the beginning of 1987, St Agnes' School had grown to accommodate two kinder classes as well as composite classes for Years 1/2 and 3/4. The school sporting fields began to take on a 'professional look' with the installation of goal posts and field markings. Staff and parents were thanked for the time they put into the project.
In June 1987, the news came through that Boronia Street was to be sealed and that the school had received approval for constructing two new classrooms.
In 1988 one additional class was created at St Agnes', which meant there were 2 Year Groups in each grade, and the enrolment was 300. All possible accommodation within the school was being used to its fullest. The library had been moved to the renovated facility in the house next door to the school. Many trees were planted around the playing fields.
The inaugural Cross Country Carnival was held at the school on 19 May. It was the start of another sporting tradition at St Agnes'. These days have only been so successful because of the incredible support of the amazing parents.
The P&F began the year with a Bicentennial Dinner/Dance. They also provided the funds to extend the stage in the school hall. The hall was an integral part of St Agnes' School. It was a place for assemblies, meetings, celebrations (particularly the Year 6 Graduations, where it was transformed into an amazing themed fantasy world) and liturgies.
1988-Bicentenary- An Aboriginal flag and a reference to the Australian flag on the far end. This flag was also carried in the All Schools Carnivale celebration held in Port that year, with all the students at St Agnes' wearing red and white outfits; The double arrows represent the formation of 2 stream year groups.
In 1991 the retaining walls, steps, seating and gardens were built for the new assembly play area. Later in the year, more gardens and a fence were completed. This again would not have occurred but for the generosity of staff, parents and past parents and friends of the school. The commitment of the parents and past parents of St Agnes' has been a strength throughout the school's development. They have always been willing to give their time and skills.
The Opening and Blessing of the School Library and the eight classrooms which made up Stage 2 of our school was a much-anticipated event. The Most Reverend Bishop John Satterthwaite and Sister Virginia Burke, the Mother Superior of the sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar, came to open and bless the new facilities.
Our incredible musical 'Joseph' also was performed that year. It is still talked about today. This was the beginning of many musicals to come. They went from a Year 6 performance to whole school extravaganzas, K/1/2 and primary performances. In recent years The Creative and Performing Arts Team have guided the performances with the assistance of our school band. Aggies' has continued its reputation as a performing arts school.
1990 – 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' musical; 1991 – The Library opens
ABC refers to reading and writing; the walking books are a reference to Book Parades. Did you find Woolly?
1992 dawned with St Agnes' taking extra enrolments in preparation for the opening of a third Catholic Primary School, St Peter's, in 1993. Our school withdrawal rooms were accommodations for small classes, and any available space in our school was scarce.
St Agnes' 10th Birthday celebrations were held in true Aggies' style.
The tenth birthday of the school. 'St Agnes' school motto is 'Grace and Truth in Christ.'
1993 saw the beginning of the 'Reading Recovery program. Denise McLoughlin was the first of many teachers from St Agnes' to train as a Reading Recovery Teacher. This program is still integral to the development of reading at St Agnes' today.
A reference to our multicultural student body, the idea of Aboriginal hand stencils used in their rock art.
To celebrate and highlight 'The Year of the Indigenous People,' St Agnes' hosted a Mass for the neighbouring Catholic Schools from the Hastings and the Macleay region. The theme of the Mass was 'Walking Together'. There were around 1500 students in attendance as well as many families, friends and staff. The Religious Education coordinators from the schools were the main organisers of this momentous event.
1993-Year of the Indigenous People celebrated with an Indigenous Mass symbolised by the Chalice and Host and a reference to The Dreamtime beliefs with the Rainbow Serpent. The fish has the double meaning of a symbol of Christianity mixed with Aboriginal motifs.
The musical for this year was 'Godspell.'
'Godspell' the musical; Baptism and Confirmation Sacrament symbols, part of the student's journey through the Catholic Education System.
1994 was 'The Year of the Family'. The parish Family groups were a big focus of the year. Many of our families had joined family groups, and present parents were encouraged to join other families in many activities.
It was also decided by the P&F to introduce the 'Father's Day' stall, as well as continue with the 'Mother's Day' stall. These two initiatives of the P&F gave the children a great deal of fun and still do today.
A reference to the Mothers' and Fathers' Day celebrations.
The Catholic Church officially decreed that girls could also become altar servers, which saw many of the young catholic ladies from St Agnes' School become greater participants in parish life. Our Sacramental programs continued to grow, and the education of parents was becoming a major focus, particularly as the Religious Education Program in the Lismore schools was in a state of reinvigoration.
1995 began with the introduction of 'Family BBQs' to allow members of the families of each class to get to know each other. The Diocese of Lismore also instigated 'School Family Ministry', and two wonderful parents volunteered to undergo the training over two years.
Parents continued to be an integral part of the school not only through P&F, canteen, The Rainbows Program, sports and helping in classrooms, but they were also giving talks to various classes in their areas of expertise.
Staffing movements at the end of 1995 saw Sr Trish Jackson (the last Teaching Sister of St Joseph in our parish) resign from the Diocese and teaching and return to Newcastle to take up a position in a team of carers at a hospice.
Introduction of the Student Representative Council; 1995 – 'Wizard of Oz' musical production
1996 saw St Agnes' welcoming Mrs Vivienne Royle as a Family School Counsellor. Her position encompassed all three primary campuses, and she was available to both students and parents.
The P&F took on the task of installing a CD Rom networking hub in the library, which would allow the expansion of the network to the K/1/2 classes initially and eventually all primary classrooms.
This panel refers to the town of Port Macquarie, in which we live. Norfolk pines, Tacking Point Lighthouse and Tall Ships reflect our colonial history. Our wider environment influences our journey. The Tall Ships also symbolise the Musical "The Great Southland".
1996 – 'The Lion King' musical production.
In 1997 St Agnes' held the Paul Wilson Memorial Day, which included fundraising activities for children's oncology at Port Macquarie Base Hospital. The day was celebrated just as Paul would have – with a mood of a great sense of fun, and everybody had fabulous fun!
2000 – 'Cheers Australia' musical; Within this panel is also a memorial to staff member Paul Wilson who sadly passed away. He is fondly remembered in his favourite fancy dress costume, Where's Wally, standing next to his guitar.
An all-weather shelter for the basketball court area finally occurred. The plans were underway by October 1997. This was a dream held by staff, parents and children, and it was finally going to become a reality.
The choir and band all grew from strength to strength. Those traditions begun earlier in the school's history were reshaped and continued with the support of staff, students and parents. St Agnes' remained a family-oriented and caring school community. Mrs Heath was a longstanding violin teacher at St Agnes' in the 1990s.
A tribute to the school band, choir and all things in the performing arts.
The fete saw the instigation of the 'Fair Dinkum Crew'. Feral Attraction wrote regular correspondence. It also took on a new name – 'Country Fair.' Once again, the support for the fair by the staff, parents and students was astounding, and it was very profitable. All the hard work and effort was well worth the result. St Agnes' continued to be the best fete in Port Macquarie. Its reputation has never floundered, and our Country Fair is still the best.
A tribute to the many amazing Fairs
A new 'vision statement' was formulated. The new statement encouraged the staff, students and school community to adopt the Christian motto of "to love one another" into their daily lives. A special banner was made bearing the statement, and it was a focal part of all celebrations for years to come.
1998 saw students enjoying the fantastic shelter that now graced the basketball courts. It was the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the P&F.
1998- The building of the undercover all-weather area.
The new Adventure Playground was opened in Term 2, 1998, in a ceremony that included a blessing by Father Michael Azzopardi and Mr Eric Hamlin, who represented the parent body of volunteers who erected the structure, assisting students in cutting the ribbon. Father Michael also road-tested the Flying Fox to ensure it met safety standards!
The addition of the Adventure Playground-monkeys on the monkey bars, and slide, and castles in the sandpit.
Sharon Green, Rick Lock and Ann Hamilton had been working for two years to form a band at St Agnes' Primary School. Their efforts came to fruition in 1998. Ian Pole also joined the tutorial team.
The preparation for the school musical was a combined effort of parents, staff and students. The title was 'Around the World in 7 Grades,' and it was written by St Agnes staff and students.
1998 – 'Around the World in 7 Grades' - musical
The Learning Assistance Program (LAP), which consists of parents who volunteer an hour of their time each week to build children's confidence and esteem across all levels of academic achievement through a one-to-one friendship with a student, has continued this year. The school was very grateful to all associated with this effective initiative.
The school canteen received yet another award- the 1998 Heart Week Award. This is due to the efforts of Megan Beck and her band of helpers. The canteen also gained 'Gold Accreditation.' At that point in time, St Agnes was the only school on the Mid-North Coast to achieve that recognition. In later years, the canteen received a 'Diamond Award.'
In March 1999, a fire occurred, destroying the two Year 2 classrooms and bad smoke damaging the Year 1 classroom. The response from the general community and schools from all systems was amazing.
A new computer room was completed in the back of Year 6. There was a network of 10 computers in the new facility where students were instructed in hands–on computer activities. This accumulation of computers and updating the technology at the school is still continuing today. At present, both Years 5 & 6 have enough computers for each student, and the school has a computer room housed in the library as well as many computers throughout other classrooms. iPads and handheld devices are also being introduced throughout the school. Interactive whiteboards have long been a necessary part of classroom life.
Symbolises the fire in the classrooms and the resultant resilience and strength of the school body.
The hands and the plant represent Principal Des Grissell handing over the responsibility of the school to new Principal Pat McLoughlin.
Patrick McLoughlin's returned to St Agnes' in 2000, and he wrote in his first newsletter that even though much had changed in the seven years he had been away, the strong sense of community, the family atmosphere and the warmth and enthusiasm of the staff, parents and students were still easily recognisable.
The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 was a major event in the life of the Catholic Church. Parishes and Catholic institutions worldwide have embraced the theme of Jubilee to recognise the meaning of their faith and renew their commitment at the beginning of a new century. St Agnes School was the host of a special Jubilee Celebration for all the neighbouring Catholic Schools. The event involved around 1,600 students and 100 school staff from Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Laurieton.
2000- Jubilee -Year of celebrating Christ at the Millennium. The Old Testament calls to Christ's people to practise forgiveness.
The Infants classes performed the spectacular musical 'Captain Noah Saves the World' later in the year.
2000 – 'Noah's Ark' musical;
St Agnes' began in 2001 with 412 students in 14 class groups and 28 staff. The 58 kinder students included three sets of twins. This brought the number of twins to 7 at St Agnes.
St Agnes' was to begin expansion to a third stage during 2001 to cater for the increased enrolments in primary parish schools. The building of a new kinder classroom began during the September holidays.
The Aunties in the front office – Aunty Pam, Carmel and Vicki received special recognition in the Daily Telegraph for the welcome, care and thoughtfulness that anyone who enters the front office experiences. The secretaries at St Agnes have always done a fantastic job, and this welcoming attitude is very much part of the front office today.
2002 began with the introduction of the third stream at St Agnes. The enrolment was 430 students, of which 74 were Kindergartens.
The school also celebrated its 20th birthday – my, how time flies. Everyone involved marvelled at the massive changes that had occurred over such a relatively short period of time. On 6 November, Marilyn Parker, who wrote an educational feature in the Daily Telegraph, gave St Agnes School her 'Dux of the Week Award.'
St Agnes' also continued with its building program. The Adventure Playground was moved to allow for the construction of two new Year 2 rooms at the end of the Year 1/2 building.
The school also put together another whole school musical – A Tribute to Rock & Roll – 'Rock 'N Roll Music Through the Ages.' The performances were moved to the St Paul's High School multipurpose room to accommodate the large audiences.
2002 – 'Rock and Roll through the Ages' musical; An artist's palette symbolic of the creative arts;
The three arrows equal three Year Group streams
2003 saw the new school year begin with 443 students and 16 classes. There were 78 kindergarten students beginning their education. The choir performed on the Basil Morrow CD, 'Face the Wind.' The whole school community were very proud of them.
The 'Parenting Today Program' was also made available to parents. This was a joint venture with St Joseph's and St Peter's Primary Schools. There were over 50 parents in the inaugural implementation of the program.
2004 – 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' musical. Erection of the perimeter fence following an act of vandalism; Flowers symbolise the student's beautification of their space. Rubbish ranger award
2006 saw the third stream extend to Year 4. The year began with 510 students in 19 classes. 79 Kinders were welcomed.
2006 also saw the introduction of the Federal Government's implementation of a Common Grade Scale in the Plain English Reporting process. A parent information evening was held to assist parents in understanding the new direction of reporting.
Another two temporary classrooms were installed next to the already present temporary classrooms to support the growth of St Agnes' in 2007. At this point, it was expected that the building program to complete the school's expansion would be completed in 2008. The parish was very supportive during this expansion.
The construction and introduction of the computer room and the interactive whiteboards in the classrooms
2006- 'The Passion' musical; Symbol of Reconciliation Sacrament.
2007 began with a statue of St Agnes being installed at the front entrance of the school. Father Donnelly was thanked for providing the statue, and it proved to be a great talking point for students and was the subject of many beginning school year photos. St Agnes' now had 532 students enrolled and 20 classes.
During the Christmas holidays, the new temporary classrooms were finished, complete with ramps and pathways. Also, the installation of nine new interactive whiteboards brought the school total to thirteen.
The annual Golf Day of 2007 is still talked about. It rained constantly, and cold, blustery winds blew, but still, 173 players turned out to support the school.
2007- The rainy golf day with Woollies flock; A reference to special and holy places; The 25-year Anniversary Mass symbolised by the chalice and host. The Cross could also represent the Journey of the Cross and Icon Pilgrimage through Port Macquarie in Preparation for World Youth Day in 2008.
The road gets closer as it travels into the future. The birds represent St Agnes' flight forward as a group.
The human footprints act as a reminder of the student and staff presence. We walk in the footprints of those who walked the path before us. It also reflects the ideas of the well-known 'Footprints' tale. Angels and a church symbolise our journey with God. The germinated seed has grown into a big forest representing the growth and maturity of St Agnes Primary.