The end of an era

A HISTORY-making final term has begun at Catholic College Sale, with the Sion campus to close at the end of this year.

Years 7 and 8 will move into essentially a new school from next year, with works nearing completion on state-of-the art classrooms and specialised learning spaces so that the college’s St Patrick’s campus can accommodate years 7 through to 12.

Principal Chris Randell said while the closure of Sion was the end of an era, this was a milestone step forward for Catholic education in Sale.

“It’s very exciting – to have our students moving to what is essentially a brand-new school with all of the latest learning resources,” he said.

“It’s something that our community has wanted – access to the best possible learning opportunities – but with that comes the dilemma of what do you have to let go of in order to get the improvement?

“There’s a strong community affiliation with the Sion campus, which has been a mainstay in education locally over the past 130 years, and we will celebrate the contribution of Sion early next year once COVID restrictions have eased.

“But right now, I’m witnessing growing excitement amongst our staff and students, who are very much looking forward to having access to the latest learning resources and modern classrooms.”

Mr Randell said construction works had been underway at the St Patrick’s campus for the past three years in preparation for the move, following extensive planning.

The amalgamation was officially announced in 2016.

The existing St Patrick’s building has been refurbished, a new library and VCE centre known as Notre Dame De Sion has been established, and there’s a new purpose-built Year 9 centre with student amenities and shared learning spaces.

John 23rd is being completely rebuilt with funding support from the federal government, and will become a designated years seven and eight centre.

The co-location will also include extensive ground upgrades and improvements to the Bishop Phelan Stadium.

When years 7 and 8 move from Sion to the main campus next year, CCS will be half-way through its 10-year master plan, the final phase including plans for a modern performing arts auditorium as part of a St Mary’s Hall redevelopment.

“It’s an exciting time for our school and we’re all looking forward to an even better learning environment to make sure our students have the best possible educational opportunities,” Mr Randell said.

Sion was established by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion in 1891, and was the beginning of the provision of Catholic education to the Sale community.

The historic Sion convent is protected by Wellington Shire heritage overlays and the National Trust of Australia register and Register of the National Estate.

The Sion building is an important part of the Catholic heritage in Gippsland, and investigations are still underway for its possible future uses.