Celebrating 50 Years of the St. Albans Technical School

Saturday 6th October 2012

The Beginning...

It is hard to believe the old St. Albans Technical School has endured for 50 years, serving the local community, past and present students. Walking past the tall chain-link fence that surrounds the VUSC Brimbank campus, gazing at the open playground, it is now surrounded by a sprawl of houses. For those who started in 1962, students and teachers, there were only open paddocks. Looking at the two original buildings with the seemingly narrow quadrangle between them where assembly was held every morning, apart from the tall gum trees, nothing seems to have changed, not even the memories. Yet a lot has changed. There are extensions, new wings and modern facilities. The school has grown as St. Albans has grown, becoming coeducational, reflecting the rich multicultural mix of the community.

After 37 years as a technical school, St. Albans Tech began its first transformation into a secondary college, becoming the Jamieson Park Secondary College. With the transformation came the introduction of language classes, different forms of teaching strategies and assessment methods, new facilities for home economics, textile, library and science. A Student Representative Council was formed to enable students to participate and contribute to college affairs - something unheard of in my day!

In 1998 a second transformation occurred when the college became the Brimbank College. In 2010, the metamorphosis was complete, culminating in the creation of the Victoria University Secondary College campus, incorporating the Deer Park Secondary College.

In 2011, the merger of the Kealba Secondary College and the VUSC Brimbank campus was completed. The smooth transition enabled the college to maintain a strong focus on teaching and learning. The Learning Villages concept has turned out to be a success and the Leading Teachers have taken charge of their student groups. The Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program is helping students improve their chances of gaining a university placement. Among the sporting successes, the VUSC Rugby Academy has proven very popular. The Deer Park Science Centre is fully equipped with the latest communications technology, which includes interactive whiteboards in all rooms and videconferencing system, allowing connection with other Science Centres across the state. The Performing Arts and Music departments have produced excellent productions and held a wide range of musical events. This is a far cry from the humble facilities available in 1962!

Start of reunions 

With the changing face of St. Albans Technical School, the students who attended its formative years have also changed. Everyone has drifted away to pursue their life’s goals. It was time to bring these people together. In 2002, with the help of past students and staff, Barrie Bowers - English class teacher (1963-1967), and Martin Tolhurst - student (1962-1966), organized the first student reunion for the class of 1962. This function was repeated for the same class in 2007. Following the success of these events, additional reunions were organized:

2007 - graduates of the 1997 intake

2008 - class of 1963 and 1998

2009 - class of 1964, 1968, 1969, 1999

2010 - class of 1970, 1989, 2005

Because of the need to maintain ongoing interest and hold additional reunions, the organizers decided it would be a great idea to incorporate and form an Alumni Association. In November 2010 the Victoria University Secondary College Past Students and Staff Association was formally incorporated to bring together students and staff who attended the St. Albans Technical School, Jamieson Park College, Brimbank College and what is today the VUSC. The major event the Association was to be involved with was to participate in the organization and planning of the school's 50th anniversary event in 2012.

Planning the 50th Jubilee events

In November 2011, Dianne Hayes was appointed by the VUSC School Board as chair of a four-member Community Liaison and Policy Committee. Six staff volunteered to be part of the managing Committee to plan, organize and conduct the 50th anniversary of the old St. Albans Technical School. This was a great start as it demonstrated the college’s commitment to make this event a success. The Alumni Association was prepared to throw its full support behind the Anniversary Committee, participating in the work required to launch the event.

At start of the 2012 college year, Luisa Fletcher was appointed by the VUSC School Board as Coordinator to conduct and launch the 50th anniversary event. The task seemed enormous, and across many meetings, scratching of heads and hair pulling, the 50th Jubilee program slowly took shape, culminating in a plan to hold a reunion dinner, followed by an Open School Day at the Brimbank campus. Organizing sponsors, dinner venue, producing a souvenir booklet and commemorative wine glasses, contacting past students and teachers which involved a lot of ringing and sending of emails, collecting memorabilia, occupied a lot of everyone’s time. Slowly, the work yielded tangible results and the event programs became a reality.

It's on!

On 14 September the VUSC was proud to celebrate the first event of the St. Albans Technical School 50th Jubilee celebration at the Lakeside Banquet & Convention Centre, Taylors Lakes. Some 165 people attended, getting old alumni together, younger students who added colour and vitality, and a solid representation by the college faculty. The college band provided excellent dancing and listening music that accompanied a great dinner. Past students who have not seen each other for decades had an opportunity to exchange stories of old school days. After several speeches about the history of the school and amusing events, the revelry began and the younger students let down their hair. At the end of the evening, there were lots of smiles and satisfied nodding of heads as people drifted away into the cold night. Success!

This did not end the celebrations, which continued with an Open School Day of the Brimbank campus the next day. The library held a large selection of memorabilia for people to look at. A commemorative booklet and wine glasses were available for sale for those who did not attend the dinner. An ongoing slideshow gave everyone a glimpse of students, faculty and activates over the years. The staff room had an extensive collection of photo albums, and pictures lined the walls, which brought fond memories to everyone who attended. Outside, enterprising students arranged a barbecue where people could buy snacks and drinks while perusing the school grounds.

The VUSC Alumni Association displayed memorabilia and explained to attendees its goals and objectives, giving attendees an opportunity to become members and participate in Association activities. More reunions planned for 2013!

The success of the Jubilee dinner and Open School Day is due to the hard work put in by Luisa Fletcher, with support from Genevieve Simson, College Principal. The Alumni Association extends its thanks and appreciation to both.

Also, big thanks to those who attended! It is hoped everyone enjoyed themselves, and some lasting contacts were established.

Click here or the 'Photo Galleries' button in the Association website and scroll down to the 50th Jubilee - 1962 to 2012 menu item for images of the event.

DVD of the events 

A DVD of the two events is available for purchase at $8.00. The DVD will be sent as a free gift to anyone who registers and becomes a paid member. Click here to download a membership form.

Payment can be made as follows:

1 - Direct transfer to the Alumni Association Westpac bank account: 033080 515901. Make sure you include your name with the payment for reference.

2 - PayPal to: vuscassociation@hotmail.com

3 - By cheque, posting to:

            The Secretary

            Past Students and Staff Association, Inc.

            PO Box 83,

            St. Albans, Vic. 3021

Contact us at:

Email: vuscassociation@hotmail.com

Website: http://alumni.vusc.vic.edu.au