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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29422

Mr ANTHONY SMITH (9:48 AM) —Last Saturday I had the privilege and honour of attending the official opening of the Primary Learning Centre at Monbulk's Mountain District Christian School in the heart of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges in my electorate. The new centre has been completed and is being used by prep and year 1 and 2 students. The opening was a great occasion to celebrate the school and the local school community's significant efforts in bringing about the construction of this building.

The morning involved the new principal, Mr Jo Harder; the vice-principal, Mr Chris Prior; many of the school's board members, including Mr Garry Gannon, a former principal; many members of the local community; parents; and, of course, most importantly, all of the young students who will use this new facility. Two of the prep students, Riley Allan and Connor Harlow, along with the principal, had the privilege of cutting the ribbon to officially open the new centre which they and their fellow students will use.

I wish to pay tribute to the school community. These facilities, costing half a million dollars, are a magnificent achievement for the school. They were able to build this new centre without a state or federal grant. Not surprisingly, that has involved many years of planning and a great sacrifice by many of the parents who were involved, not just financially but in terms of the time they volunteered to bring the project about.

The construction began just last August and proceeded at a rapid pace to ensure that it was ready for opening last Saturday. The closeness and the commitment of the school community at Mountain District was illustrated by the fact that the builder who constructed the facility was himself a former student of the school who returned from travelling around Australia with his family specifically to build the new classrooms. He lives in Monbulk with his wife, and his young child attends the school. Similarly, the electrician who worked on the project, Mick Dillema from Wandin Electrics, put in many hours above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the project was completed on time. Janet Nyhouse also had a lot to do with the project. These volunteers were acknowledged and thanked by all on the day. The prep students themselves confidently shook their hands and presented them with gifts to acknowledge the work that they had done. As the parents recognise, by sending their kids to an independent school like Mountain District they make a financial sacrifice. They are to be commended for exercising their choice about the sort of education they want for their kids. It was another example of the rich diversity of our education system. (Time expired)