The opening of the St Margaret’s Sports Precinct, on Wednesday 26 August 2020, was an historic occasion in a historic year, in more ways than one.
While serendipitous, it was fitting that the redevelopment of one third of the campus, resulting in a magnificent sports and wellbeing facility, was completed and open for use in St Margaret’s 125th anniversary year.
The opening will also be remembered for being a socially distanced celebration due to COVID-19.
The capacity of the new Philip Harris Gym, in which the opening ceremony was held, was limited to a total of 300 guests, appropriately spaced on the new retractable grandstand seating, with the official party seated at the front. Students in Years 3 to 12 were seated separately on the outdoor tennis courts, but still able to view official proceedings.
We were honoured to have the precinct opened by The Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, and dedicated by The Right Reverend Archbishop Phillip Aspinall.
Other special guests included Sisters Gillian, Eunice and Sandra, then Chair of School Council Alison Quinn, Tim Nicholls MP, community members who generously donated to the project, and St Margaret’s Patron Philip Harris, after whom both the former sports centre and new gym are named.
Vocalists from the school rock band performed a beautiful rendition of Seasons of Love along with Akari Komoto on keyboard and Sophia Colledge on percussion; Head of Sport Helen Lobegeiger led a presentation of items to the Chair of School Council representing St Margaret’s sports and their associations; and while The Archbishop dedicated all areas of the precinct, guests enjoyed a rock climbing demonstration by students on the new climbing wall.
The official proceedings concluded with students and guests christening the pool by throwing in over 1000 rubber ducks sporting the St Margaret’s logo, which they took home as a memento of the occasion.
Construction on the sports precinct commenced in December 2018. This world class facility incorporates a water polo sized heated swimming pool with two 50m lanes, tennis courts with lights, gymnasium with an oak sprung floor, a strength and conditioning gym, an indoor climbing wall featuring seven belay stations and 76m2 of climbing, a dedicated ergometer room to support rowing and modern health and physical education classrooms.
Award-winning architects Blight Rayner designed the precinct to promote a sense of connection with moveable walls, and an indoor/outdoor flow afforded by an enormous 22m panel lift wall (the largest of its kind in the State) which connects the indoor gymnasium to the outdoor tennis courts. The entire precinct represents the largest flat space the school has ever had, quite a feat for a school built on steep hill.
In the final weeks of Term 3 students were using both the indoor and outdoor courts and classes were held in the HPE building. From the first week in Term 4 the pool was in use and the Sports and HPE staff have taken up residence in their new staff room on the ground floor of the Chaseley building, adjacent to the outdoor courts.
The school is forever grateful for the commitment and generosity of the St Margaret’s community to the Going for Bold capital campaign which has helped realise this facility for the students of today and for generations to come.