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Our History

Since its inception, Nagle College has stood as an outstanding Catholic Coeducational College. Situated in Bairnsdale, the College has served the educational needs of young men and women of the East Gippsland region for close to 60 years. Nagle College has always been an open and inclusive school, enrolling students from all walks of life, students with different abilities, with different aspirations; the College has prided itself on its ability to cater for all these differences and all students to let their light shine.

Nagle College was founded in 1958 by the Presentation Sisters with the aim of supporting parents in the region to educate their sons and daughters within a Catholic tradition. Later in its history the College would adopt the Salesian traditions of St John Bosco, with the arrival of the Salesian Society to Bairnsdale in 1990.

Mother Catherine Curtin, Principal 1958 - 1964

1958 - 1964

The following is an extract from a letter written by Sister Mary Catherine Curtin, the first Principal of Nagle College, who was reminiscing on the early days of Nagle College:

"We went to Bairnsdale in 1958 at the invitation of the Bishop to take over the existing primary school of St Mary's and to take the important step of starting a secondary school. There were six Sisters on the original foundation, who worked very hard under difficult conditions. There were no special classrooms or building available for secondary students, so everyone had to be fitted into the existing rooms at St Mary's. Space was the one thing that was valued, and at one period the upstairs verandah was used for taking classes in different subjects. The name chosen for the new secondary school was Nagle College, in line with our Presentation tradition, and the motto was Luceat Lux Vestra (Let Your Light Shine). A new uniform was decided upon, and the first time the town saw the new school in action was when the boys and girls of Nagle College in the brand new uniforms marched - with drums and all! - to participate in the opening of the new bridge across the Mitchell River. At the end of the first year the total number of pupils in both schools was 418, by 1959 this was 440, by 1960 the total was 472, by 1961 it was 485, by 1962 it was 522, by 1963 the number was 515, and when I left in 1964 it was 538. In the early sixties it was apparent that a new building must be acquired to house the secondary students, and to provide better facilities for a wider range of subjects. The new Nagle College adjoining the Convent was built, and this provided some relief for the primary school children, who had been confined to very cramped conditions at St Mary's.

The Class of 1968

1965 - 1975

Inter-House sports were held for the first time on April 1, 1965 with Monsignor Walsh (Parish Priest) presenting the shield to the winning House. These carnivals were held at the Bairnsdale Oval. The Swimming Carnival was introduced in 1966 with students using the old pool at the Port of Bairnsdale for short events, and longer events had the student swimming the width of the Mitchell River in Freestyle and Backstroke! Tennis lessons were offered in 1966 and the first group of Nagle boys got their start in Cricket by playing for the St Mary's Junior Team. Netball and Football soon followed. The first Houses at Nagle College were Nagle (green) and Lourdes (yellow), however around 1970 the names were changed to Aquarius, Gemini and Orion - possibly in keeping with the sign of the times. Houses would compete for the Mother Catherine Sports Shield. In 1968 the College had an enrolment of 165 students. The first excursion to Melbourne took place this year on April 17, with a visit to the CSIRO.

In 1974 a residential house across the road from the College in Francis Street was purchased and a large garage erected and set up for woodwork classes. Inside the house rooms were furnished for sewing, cooking, pottery and art. This expansion freed rooms in the College proper for extra subjects and allowed music, science, art and the library to become specialisted spaces. It became apparent in 1973 that the Presentation Sisters association with Nagle College was limited as there were not enough sisters to meet all the teaching commitments. At the beginning of 1974 Mother Eymard let the Bishop of Sale know that from 1976 the College would need a lay principal. On July 1, 1975 an announcement was made that the Presentation Sisters would withdraw from Nagle. An end of an era had come.

Principal 1965 - 1967:  Mother M Leonard Gartlan, PBVM

Principal 1968 - 1970:  Mother M Paula Warren, PBVM

Principal 1971 - 1973:  Sister M Marie Michael Convery, PBVM

Principal 1974 - 1975: Sister Isla Kealy, PBVM

Mr Rod Nicholson, circa 1978

1976 - 1989

On August 14, 1975 a Parish Education Board meeting was held in the Nagle College Library in Francis Street with a Constitution presented for discussion. A further meeting was held on September 19 at which five parents were nominated for the Nagle College Council; they were John Hall, Geoff Downie, Bryan Dahlsen, George White and John Theodore. On November 29, 1975 the selection panel for the appointment of a new principal chose Mr J R Nicholson as the first lay principal of the College.

The enrolment at Nagle College in 1977 was 360 with a projected number of over 500 by 1980. With student numbers increasing each year it was obvious that a new site would have to be found. After several sites were considered and then found inappropriate, Mr John Campbell suggested the council look at the Hillside site, owned by Mr Stan Collins. The Council agreed it had a great aspect and plenty of land (126 acres) and proceeded with acquiring the land for Nagle College. The land was purchased in 1977.

Stage One commenced in March 1978 and consisted of six learning areas, one resource centre, a mezzanine floor, two science laboratories, a service block and a canteen. It was completed in time for the start of the 1979 school year and officially blessed and opened on May 6, 1979. A new school emblem was also introduced in 1979 to mark the start of a new era. Designed by Lawrence D Kermond, the new design that is still in use today became the College Logo.

The Omeo Outdoor Education Centre was established in 1978 to provide students with a progressive series of academic and outdoor recreational pursuits offering an introduction to the local environment. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme started at Nagle College with the arrival of Mr Frank Bailey in 1981. The Scheme was very successful at Nagle College over the next 25 years with two students receiving their Gold Awards in 1984, a further four students the following year who received their Awards from HRH Prince Philip; two students flew to Edinburgh to take part in the “Edinburgh ’85 Project”; in 1986 Nagle Awardees represented Australia at the International Forum in Hong Kong. By 2004 over 1000 students had been involved in the Award Scheme, with a total of 132 Gold Awards presented.

Stages Two and Three were officially opened on October 9, 1982 comprising the Religious Education Centre and the first computer room at the end of the Mathematics Wing. The House System underwent a major change in 1985. Four Houses (Moon (green), Lind (red), Howitt (blue) and McLeod (yellow)) became six – Avila (yellow), Chisholm (maroon), MacKillop (brown), Newman (red), Polding (blue) and Xavier (green).

Stages Four, Five and Six were completed and officially opened on December 11, 1987. To mark the occasion of our 30th Anniversary in 1988 a leadlight panel was designed by local glass artist, Mr Russ Wade) that symbolized Nagle College and the “enlightened, educated students as its product, going forth into the world”. The panel was originally installed at the front of the Religious Education Centre but has since been relocated to the Occhiena Administration Wing.

Principal 1976 – 1988:  Mr J R (Rod) Nicholson

Principal 1989:  Mr Michael Nelson (Acting)

Fr Frank Freeman SDB

1990 – 2006

In late 1989 the College Community was informed that the Salesian Society had been contacted by the Bishop of Sale to provide a Principal for the College. We welcome Fr Frank Freeman SDB at the start of 1990. The initial agreement was for three years only, but resulted in the Salesian presence lasting 16 years until 2006. During this period the College continued to grow, develop and diversify to provide a very wide range of subjects and courses for the students. The Salesian Years were marked by consolidation and then the diversification of College administration and activities in accordance with the basic Salesian educational policies of Reason, Religion and Kindness.

Building works during this time included Presentation Hall (1992), the St John Bosco Chapel (2000), the Junior Wing (  ) the English Wing ( )

Bosco House, named after St John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Society, became the seventh House at Nagle College in 1995. 2004 marked 25 years for Nagle College on the Mitchell River site and coincided with St Mary’s Primary School relocating from its premises in Francis Street to a new 10 acre site on the Bairnsdale-Dargo Road, once again forming a Catholic Education Precinct.

In 2005 the Salesian Provincial Council deemed that the Salesians had completed their mission in Bairnsdale and it was time for the Church to entrust the administration of the College to the increasing numbers of very dedicated and capable lay people. So in 2007 the College welcomed Mr Robert Brennan as Principal, with a smaller Salesian Community remaining as a pastoral presence in Bairnsdale.

Principal 1990 – 1999:  Fr Frank Freeman, SDB

Principal 2000 – 2006:  Fr Bernie Graham, SDB

Mr Robert Brennan, Principal 2007 to 2011

2007 onwards

The College underwent major building and refurbishment programs between 2008 and 2012. The addition of a new administration wing – the Occhiena Centre, named after Marghertia Occhiena who was the mother of St John Bosco – gave a new face to the College. Areas refurbished included: Science Wing, Arts Wing, Food & Technology Centre, Learning Centre (Library). This resulted in the relocation of the textiles room, College Canteen, Archives rooms, Student Counsellors, ICT classrooms and offices, and Reprographics, as well as the addition of a Language Laboratory. House Co-ordinators relocated to the old reception precinct and the first aid room became the Second Hand Uniform Shop. Outside improvements included the relocation of the outdoor tennis and basketball courts to the sports precinct, extensive shaded areas, an outdoor sound stage, shelters at the pick up/drop off zone, and extensive outside seating areas. All classrooms and offices spaces were fitted with reverse cycle air conditioning by the end of 2012.

The Nagle College Rainforest Project was launched in 2010 and continues to thrive under the management of the Nagle Eco Warriors and Mitchell River Environment classes.

The Parents and Friends Association underwent a revival in 2009 with one of their initiatives being the running of a second hand uniform shop. The House Banners were given a new image in 2011 with seven banners showing the coat of arms of the House Patrons displayed in House colours. In 2012 seven larger versions of these were produced which are prominently displayed in Presentation Hall, enabling the original banners to be put into well-earned retirement.

Principal 2007 – 2011:  Mr Robert Brennan

Principal 2012 -  :  Mr Neville Powles

As part of our wholistic education Nagle College offers an innovative and entreprenurial applied learning program – VCAL, as well as broad Vocation and Training options – VET. Many of our students are recruited to the work force from their work placement positions. In 2015 a new Trades Skills Centre was built to support students’ learning.

All students have a laptop computer which is a powerful learning tool assisting both research and presentation of work.

In recent years more regular whole school assemblies have been conducted. These provide opportunities to share achievements, encouragement and to celebrate together.

There has been an explicit focus on Learning and Teaching with all staff promoting the teaching of literacy. Additionally, a Learning Framework has been developed which builds student’s capacity as a learner who is motivated and reflective and who shows ownership and takes action.

Our students are encouraged to adopt the notion that they come to school to work … and their work is learning. To promote this approach our process of Good Standing is in place. Good Standing consists of two pillars – that students are co-operative and they are required to complete and submit all work.

We have introduced GAP time, a minute of silence prior to lunch during which staff and students consider Gratitude And Peace in their life.

In 2017 we opened a new flexible learning complex - the Nano Nagle Learning Centre. This complex replaced our historical portables and provides contemporary, flexible learning and opportunities for team teaching. The Nano Nagle Learning Centre is used mainly by Year 7 and 9 Core classes and Language classes.

Construction is now progressing on the new Technology Precinct, which will include learning spaces for Food, Textiles, Wood, Electronics and Systems. It is anticipated this precinct will be completed late in 2018.

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