We continue with Part Two of the St Philip’s Christian College journey, which began February 1 1995, when the school opened its doors with a mere 42 students.
Year by year the school continued to grow under the leadership of Principal Mr Chris Walkling and a small band of committed teachers and staff were all united with the same heart and vision of the ‘whole child’ education including intellectual, social, physical and spiritual development.
In 2004 the College saw its first HSC students awarded their certificates with outstanding results across a wide range of subject areas.
The College became an extension of family life and speaking to the families and former students they all share the same nostalgic yearning for those early days of the College and a longing for the camaraderie that came with it so naturally.
In 1996, the Koster family arrived at St Philip’s to consider enrolling, just in time for the morning assembly.
Chris Walking was on the verandah looking at the students who were all lined up for assembly.
The area was under construction with orange tape separating the students from the heavy work machinery including a bulldozer and backhoe.
The question was asked to the students why they shouldn’t go past the orange tape.
Some of the replies were, so we don’t get dirty … so we don’t break the equipment and other similar responses.
Chris Walkling smiled and gently said, “They are all very good reasons children, but do you know what the main reason is?”
The students all leaned in for his answer.
Chris whispered very gently, “We don’t want you to go anywhere near the tape or what’s behind it because we love you and we don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Those words gave me goosebumps as tears filled my eyes and I knew we were home,” Mrs Koster told Bay News Of The Area.
Chris Walkling’s devotion towards the students was infectious amongst the staff and it was this caring environment that formed the foundation of the school, impacting the local community like nothing they had seen before.
Part Three continues next week with an unexpected tragedy that hit the school and the Port Stephens community at large.
By Jewell DRURY