Almost 22 years ago, a new school was built on the Tomaree Peninsula.
Commencing with just 42 students, it is truly remarkable that enrolments are now approaching 800 with plans for 1200 students in the not too distant future.
Today as you drive past St Philip’s Christian College Port Stephens you can’t help but notice that the place is abuzz.
The College was birthed in 1995 through the vision of a handful of praying locals who contacted Mr Graeme Irwin, the founder of St Philip’s Christian College, Waratah.
Their vision was based upon the belief that the Tomaree Peninsula had a need for an independent school that would develop the whole child intellectually, socially, physically and spiritually.
Mr Chris Walkling was the Founding Principal of the School with the first classes commencing February 1, 1995.
Chris was a man of great conviction, passion, integrity, love, determination, graciousness, inspiration and humility.
He believed in the purity and creative beauty of children and believed implicitly in the notion of ‘from little things big things grow,’ and reinforced the creative genius and potential in all of his students.
A caring community was created through these relationships that saw the school grow through word of mouth recommendations seeing the school move into secondary education with the establishment of Year 7.
“The teachers, students and parents were a unique family in those early days,” Jan Bestmann, a parent of five children who attended St Philip’s, told Bay News Of The Area.
“We saw our children encouraged to step up into their dreams, to reach high and stretch themselves during their time at the best school in the Southern Hemisphere,” Mrs Bestmann said.
“Many of us have beautiful memories of the amazing teachers brought to Port Stephens for the purpose of training up our children and we are so grateful for the gems placed into their young hearts.”
In 2001 the first group of School Certificate students graduated and in 2004 the first HSC students were awarded their certificates with outstanding results across a wide range of subject areas.
Next week we will continue with the St Philip’s journey from 2004 to the present.
By Jewell DRURY