The driving force behind the establishment of St Columba Anglican School has stepped down as the school council chair.
The Rev Canon Dr John Barrett has been chair of the school council for 17 years.
He was the visionary and driving force behind the establishment of St Columba Anglican School in 2002.
After a conversation with the Bishop of the day, Bishop Huggins, he was given the go ahead to start planning for the new school at Innes Lake.
The school started with 72 students and seven staff.
The student body has grown to about 1150 with more than 120 staff.
Dr Barrett said stability had been one of the highlights.
The founding principal Chris Pitt was at the helm from 2002 to 2007, followed by Terry Muldoon from 2008 onward.
That stability extended to the school council and the school chaplains.
There have been two school chaplains – Emeritus Chaplain Duncan McArthur and Rev Paul Hodge.
Dr Barrett said the school had achieved academically, culturally and in sport.
He said one of the crowning glories was the building of the performing arts centre.
The Iona Performing Arts Centre includes a 320-seat black box theatre, vocal rehearsal studio, dance studio, drama studio and three state of the art music classrooms.
“One of the other achievements for us has been the establishment of Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre,” he said.
The childcare facility provides long day care, preschool programs, before and after school care and vacation care.
Dr Barrett has brought a wealth of experience to the council chair role, having served with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council as a councillor for 16 years and as mayor between 1991 to 1992.
He has also worked as a pharmacist and business owner, Clerical Canon for the Anglican Diocese and is a board member of the Mid North Coast Local Health District.
Dr Barrett generously offered his experience to the school from its inception.
“There’s been a sense that it would be good to use whatever expertise I have to help develop education here in Port Macquarie,” he said.
“The fact that we’ve been in the top 100 schools in the state for the last few years, I think, is testimony to the staff, to the principal, to the executive and the Council of St Columba.
“I am humbled by what has been achieved.
“Not so much by me but by others.”
Dr Barrett says St Columba Anglican School is in a strong position for the future.
“The goal is to produce students that can step into the world and understand it’s a different place to what school is,” he said.
“We want them to be citizens that can embrace the 21st century.”
The former deputy chair of St Columba Anglican School, Dr Gordon Burch, succeeds Dr Barrett as the new chair.
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