Hailed as a world class facility, students, staff, alumni and community members gathered at St Columba Anglican School (SCAS) on March 7 for the official opening of the state of the art ‘Iona’ Performing Arts Centre.
SCAS principal, Terry Muldoon, said the facility will be an incredible asset not only to the school, but the wider community as well.
“Today we come together to acknowledge the official opening of The Iona and really announce to the world that we are here and we are open to the school and also to the wider community,” Mr Muldoon said.
“Within the performing arts centre we have a theatre which can accommodate around 340 people and what I have been told, is the best dance studio outside of Sydney.
“We have installed nine small rehearsal and practice rooms, a vocal and orchestra room along with teaching spaces.”
Mr Muldoon said the new building reflected the calibre of students coming to SCAS and anticipates the building becoming a draw card for national and international guests to come to Port Macquarie.
“I think the building and its facilities reflect the quality of students we have at the school.
“Not just the students who perform in the arts, but we also have the facilities for students to learn about lighting and sets, and running the behind the scenes parts of the building.
“The centre is a top facility and looking into the future, the possible collaborations with national and international performers are endless.”
The federal government provided $950,000 in funding from the Capital Grants Program, which provides funding for non-government schools to improve capital infrastructure where they otherwise may not have access to sufficient resources.
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker and The Venerable Gail Hagon officially unveiled a plaque that marked the beginning of an exciting future for the school, in front of Port Macquarie-Hasting mayor Peta Pinson and invited guests.
“I want to take the opportunity today to congratulate everyone at St Columba who has been involved with the project,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“It has been great to come and visit the school and see firsthand the impact these facilities will have on the students’ school experience.
“I hope the new music and performance centre inspires students to sing, dance, play an instrument or perform.”
School choir conductor Marie Van Gend said the new centre will be an excellent addition to the school’s facilities.
“I have been working at the school for over 10 years and one of the greatest challenges is always finding rooms for students to rehearse in,” Ms Van Gend said.
“Our music, drama and performing arts programs have all grown massively and we were literally looking for space outside to perform in, but now we have dedicated spaces with fantastic acoustics for the students.
“This year the senior choir has 120 students which means that we need large spaces to rehearse and this new facility will enable us to do that.”
Port Macquarie-Hastings mayor Peta Pinson said the new facilities will be fantastic for the Hastings.
“As mayor I am so very proud to have such outstanding facilities in an area like ours, and to witness the immense talent our young people have as a result of facilities like this, not just in the sporting arenas but across a large range of areas,” Cr Pinson said.
“For me on a personal level to see St Columba grow and flourish, and to be a pinnacle point in education in Port Macquarie is phenomenal.
“And for the school to so generously open their gates to the whole community is just so wonderful.”