Dapto High School turns 60 years young, with plans for more growth

GROUP PHOTO: Dapto High School 's 1000 students gathered together to get a photo taken to mark the school's 60th anniversary celebrations. An anniversary dinner will be held on November 11. Picture: Sylvia Liber

GROUP PHOTO: Dapto High School 's 1000 students gathered together to get a photo taken to mark the school's 60th anniversary celebrations. An anniversary dinner will be held on November 11. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Elevated high up in a cherry picker, Illawarra Mercury photographer Sylvia Liber captured all 1000 Dapto High School students in a photo to mark the school’s 60th anniversary.

Ten years earlier a Mercury snapper took a similar photo of a similar amount of students to mark the school’s 50th anniversary.

But while the number of students hasn’t risen considerably in the last 10 years, Dapto High School principal Andrew FitzSimons predicts the next decade will see considerable growth.

‘’With the new city of West Dapto, a bigger proportion of students now come from the south and the west then 10 years ago,’’ he said.

‘’Today there would be 500 cranes at work at West Dapto. Growth in this area is significant.

But the current [NSW Education] departmental thinking is they won’t build a new high school until there is a possibility of 2000 students and they won’t build another primary school until there is the prospect of 1000. - Andrew FitzSimons

‘’Our school can house about 1100 students but we expect enrolments will rise above that in the years to come.’’

Mr FitzSimons said some years ago there was talk of two high schools and six new primary schools being built in the Dapto area.

‘’But the current [NSW Education] departmental thinking is they won’t build a new high school until there is a possibility of 2000 students and they won’t build another primary school until there is the prospect of 1000,’’ he said.

‘’But, Dapto Public School did recently get the nod for 16 new permanent classrooms to be built, so that’s a sign if you like of demographic assurity that increasing numbers are coming.’’

Nevertheless the government was ‘’reluctant’’ to help built a new performing arts centre for Dapto High School.

But they are supporting the school’s moves to keep up with the ‘’profound technology changes’’.

Today there are 1100 laptops on site, we are a BYOD (bring your own device) school through and through. - Andrew FitzSimons

‘’Ten years ago every classroom had a chalkboard and we used chalk. Now we don’t have chalk anywhere in the school because it can adversely affect our computers,’’ Mr FitzSimons said.

‘’Today there are 1100 laptops on site, we are a BYOD (bring your own device) school through and through.

‘’Also now every Year 7 student at Dapto now does robotics. That’s new curriculum that wasn’t even dreamt of 10 years ago for schools.’’

The school set on 16 hectares also has a ‘’huge farm with magnificent soil’’ and is currently re-positioning agriculture as a hi-tech sustainable global business.

‘’We used to have a chook shed, now we have a poultry pavilion and have a project going with ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) to install a high-tech classroom on the farm that will heat and cool and light itself. It will generate enough electricity from the sun to run itself and two other classrooms,’’ he said.

Dapto High School will hold a 60th anniversary dinner at Dapto Leagues Club on November 11, and an Open Day at the school on November 12. Details on 4261 1416.

Meantime, Dapto High School students on Wednesday recognised the efforts of school teacher Joel Trist, who received Australia’s second-highest civilian bravery decoration, the Star of Courage.

DESERVED APPLAUSE: Dapto High School students show their appreciation to  teacher Joel Trist, who received the Star of Courage bravery award. Picture: Sylvia Liber

DESERVED APPLAUSE: Dapto High School students show their appreciation to teacher Joel Trist, who received the Star of Courage bravery award. Picture: Sylvia Liber

The honour comes 18 months after Joel Trist knowingly swam deeper into shark-infested waters off Bombo Beach to rescue a critically injured friend, Brett Connellan. 

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