WHEN Scott Donohoe steps into his role as foundation principal of the new Catholic high school in Medowie, he will join a community he has been working with from afar for close to a decade.
Mr Donohoe is currently principal of San Clemente High Mayfield, where more than 50 per cent of students live in Port Stephens and travel around two hours each day for a Catholic education.
“We have three Catholic primary schools at Nelson Bay, Raymond Terrace and Bulahdelah and these students have been travelling up to an hour each way each day to San Clemente and St Francis Xavier’s at Hamilton for high school,” Mr Donohoe said.
“It’s been very difficult for them to engage and connect with extra curricular activities in their own communities because they get home too late.
“This will give them more time to pursue those interests in this area rather than being in the car or on the bus.
“It also makes it easier for parents to come in for events and gatherings.”
Mr Donohoe will increase his involvement in the new school to be built on Medowie Road – called Catherine McAuley Catholic College – next term before stepping into the role full time in 2019.
“I’m excited about the once in a lifetime opportunity to start a school, to have a clean slate,” he said.
“To build a culture and community which I feel will really serve students for the future from scratch is something very rare and unique, I could not pass it up.
“My vision is for the college is to ultimately be seen as an important community hub for Port Stephens.
“This includes developing long term partnerships with local industries such as the defence force and associated aeronautical and aerospace industries.”
The college has already received 75 expressions of interest, many from non Catholic families.
The office will open next January and take enrolments from March.
The college will open in 2020 with between 150 and 180 year seven students and is forecast to grow to 1200.
Diocese chief executive Sean Scanlon said the $26 million development application for the 20 hectare site was before Port Stephens Council and includes the first stage of the college, as well as a primary school expected to open under its own name as early as 2022 and an early education centre.
A traffic management plan is before the state government.
He said he expected earthworks would start later this year.