The History Of 21 Dickson Street

The History Of 21 Dickson Street

Changing times change educational spaces

The Brigidine Sisters were founded in Ireland, in Tullow, by Bishop Daniel Delany in 1807, almost 200 years ago. Bishop Delany placed his congregation under the protection of St Brigid. In 1885, Bishop Crane, the first Bishop of Sandhurst, invited the Brigidine sisters to come out to Australia and open a convent and school in Echuca.

On 4 January 1886, Mother Borgia Hayden, Mother Benedict Moore, Sister Vincent Brennan and Sister Thomas Healy set sail for Australia. They took up residence in Apsley House, the former home of Henry Hopwood, the founder of Echuca, one thousand pounds being the price of this estate of which only 300 pounds had been paid. The nuns attended their first Mass in Echuca the next day using the parlour as the Chapel and a mahogany sideboard as the altar. This sideboard can be found in our present Chapel today.

The Brigidine Convent High School was opened in the Convent parlour on 22nd March 1886 with 8 pupils and six weeks later the girl’s boarding school was opened. By the end of the first year there were 30 students in the High School and 30 in the Primary section of the school.

The curriculum, as advertised in the Riverine Herald in 1886, consisted of English, Use of Globes, Astronomy, History (Ancient and Modern), Arithmetic, Foreign Languages, Vocal and Instrumental Music, Painting, Drawing, Plain and Fancy Needlework. The students were guaranteed a first class education and from the very beginning students of other faiths were welcomed into the school.

In December 1888, the extension to Apsley house was begun. These extensions included the front building, as well as the kitchen, now the meeting rooms, and the cellar and in October 1889, the sisters moved into the new convent building. The hall and the adjoining classrooms were built in 1894.

In 1896, ten years after the first Australian postulant entered, Echuca was selected as the site for the first Victorian Brigidine Novitiate and was the centre for training all women wanting to become Brigidine Sisters. It was around this time that the first Victorian Provincial was appointed and she resided here in the community of Echuca.

In 1897, the fountain which adorns our front lawn was generously donated to the sisters and in September 1899, the memorial stone of the new convent chapel was laid by Bishop Reville.

In 1907, the novitiate, the training place for nuns, was moved from Echuca to Mentone.

In May 1940, a two storey wing of new classrooms was completed. These are the rooms adjoining the hall and they currently house the consulting suites for our school social workers, staff offices and our VCAL classrooms.

In 1960, the Boarders dining room was completed, there being over 60 boarders by this stage. This room is now commonly referred to as `the ref’ and is used by the Year 12s as their common room. It was during the 60s that the Primary section of the College was closed down and all primary students went to St Mary’s Parish Primary School (situated on its traditional site in the centre of the Echuca township. It was also the time when the Government introduced grants for Science classrooms and the first science rooms were built here in 1961 and 1967 as well as additional classrooms. These rooms form part of the renovated section of Tullow.

In the 1970’s, a second storey was added to these rooms and until the end of 1998, the College Library was housed in upstairs Tullow. In 1982 portable classrooms were purchased and were used as  Arts, Music and Technology classrooms for nearly thirty two years. In 1984 the Delany Wing was built and in 1988, St. Joseph’s ceased to be a Boarding school.

The 1990’s brought further changes. In 1993, the Convent, built in 1888, was refurbished and turned into the Admin area and classrooms, the sisters having taken up residence in the set of units across the road at 1 Charlotte Street. In 1996, the first Lay-Principal was appointed, Mr Bill Teggelove. In 1998, the building known as the West Wing was demolished and was replaced by a two-storey building named `Tullow’. On the ground floor of this building is our Information Centre (Library), specialist Science classrooms and a Textiles room.

In 2000, Co-Principals, Mrs Rosemary Copeland and Mr Bill Teggelove were appointed and they began a new form of leadership for St. Joseph’s College. Co-Principalship is a model of leadership in other Brigidine schools in the Victorian province. In 2001, the then current Textiles Room (the old infirmary) was converted into the Canteen and a Breakfast Bar for students and the main Staff Room was extended to include a Staff Resource Area.

In 2003, Mr Phillip Healy was appointed as Co-Principal to replace Mr Bill Teggelove.

In 2005, the Arts/Technology wing was open to classes in VCE Art, Visual Communication and Design, Years 7 – 12 Materials and Technology (Wood and Plastic). The students can also access a C & D room.

In 2005, The College purchased the property at 33 Dickson Street to be known as ‘Cill Dara”. In 2007, building commenced on the second storey of the Chanel Wing. Classes in Food Technology, Creative Arts and IT Support commenced in this building in February 2008.

In 2009 Miss Kate Fogarty was appointed as Co-Principal to replace Mrs Copeland.

At the end of 2009 significant planning was undertaken to introduce a 1: 1 Laptop program. In 2010 students at the College were issued MacBook Laptops as their primary education tool with the design to educate students for the 21st century.

In 2011 the restoration of Cill Dara was completed. The facility is used as a Learning Enhancement Centre. The Cill Dara building has a number of small consultation rooms as well as larger rooms for group work. It also contains a kitchen, bathroom, laundry and garden areas for educational opportunities in the areas of lifestyle and personal care.

At the end of 2011, Mr Phill Healy completed his appointment as Co-Principal.

For the start of the 2012 school year, Miss Kate Fogarty was appointed as the sole Principal thereby ending the era of Co-Principals.

In 2011 our Science classrooms underwent renovation and significant modernisation. The classrooms which had been built in the early 1960s were completely gutted. The new Science Classrooms reflected significant change in classroom pedagogy and technology. A number of open spaces were created and specialist ‘practicum’ facilities were introduced.

In 2013 considerable planning was undertaken to plan and design a new building for the College. The portables, which were erected in the 1980’s were removed and the original asphalt basketball courts and cricket nets were torn up. Work began at the end of the 2013 year to prepare the site for construction. 2014 left the College with a reduced yard whilst a major building operation was undertaken to prepare new learning areas for Health/PE, Allied Health and Music Technology. For the first time in a number of years the College has an assembly place where all students can be present and protected from the weather elements.

Whilst building projects were undertaken from 2005 to the current time, considerable innovation was also being developed in a variety of curriculum areas. The College created an alliance with the local Echuca Regional Health to deliver the VET program “Allied Health”. St Joseph’s College Echuca also became a Registered Training Organisation and is able to deliver a wide range of Vocational Education Programs (VET) such as, Public Safety, Education, Applied Fashion Design, Music and Sport and Rec/Outdoor Recreation. Curriculum opportunities for students to access external courses through a variety of other educational institutions also increased significantly with students accessing courses on Wednesday afternoons. Work placements have also become a requirement for many students in senior year levels; elevating opportunities for students to access a wider range of employment possibilities. The introduction of courses such as the Accelerated Education Program has also assisted considerably in this area.

In the current year our students are exposed to a multifaceted education. Opportunities for students to access a broad range of experiences are crucial to the holistic development of young people. Students of all year levels are able to benefit from a range of camps, excursions and incursions, both locally and outside of the local area. Students in Year 11 and 12 are able to access overseas immersion experiences to both East Timor and The Philippines.

From 2015 we were blessed to have the use of our new Oak Centre, home for education in the areas of Health and Human Development and Humanities. The new Oak Centre provides specialist training for students with our fully equipped Allied Health Centre. The Allied Health course is for students in Years 11 and 12 and is run in conjunction with Echuca Regional Health. The Oak Centre also houses a full stream of musical facilities, including private music rooms, a recording studio and formal band practice areas.

At the end of 2014, Miss Kate Fogarty completed her appointment as Principal.

In 2015, Mr Michael Delaney commenced his role as Principal.

Planning is currently underway for future developments.

From its very beginning, St. Joseph’s College has always been a co-educational, Brigidine school, committed to teaching the Catholic Tradition but always open to people of other faiths. It has offered a very sound and broad education consistently seeking out the needs of the students of the time. It has promoted academic excellence while at the same time catering for the cultural needs of the students. St. Joseph’s College, Echuca is at the forefront of educational innovation, pursuing the best possible ways to educate young people in the 21st century.