Inspecting the new Richmond Christian College school hall at Ballina are builder John Eggins (left), Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and school principal Geoff Brisby.
Inspecting the new Richmond Christian College school hall at Ballina are builder John Eggins (left), Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and school principal Geoff Brisby. Doug Eaton

School hall one in a million

WHEN Richmond Christian College Ballina Year 7 students Harry Ryan and Carly Frankham were sent to the principal’s office in June, they didn’t think it was to spend more than $1 million on their new school hall.

Earlier this year, principal Geoff Brisby asked the students to push ‘enter’ on his computer, thereby accepting to spend $1.17 million on a state-of-the-art hall as part of the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution program.

“There aren’t too many students who could say they have spent that much money,” joked Mr Brisby.

Richmond Christian College is the first of 94 schools in Page to complete a building using a grant from the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program. The cathedral-like performance space and library was built in record time thanks to support from the local community, many whom worked on the building at cost price.

Mr Brisby, who acted as project manager for the hall, said parents and passers-by were amazed the building had taken only 23 weeks to plan and build.

Yesterday, Mr Brisby took Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, on a tour of the new hall. She was impressed, particular by its environmental credentials, which include solar panels, water tanks and landscaping.

“This practically carbon-neutral hall should be applauded. It’s a great example for other schools in the area,” Ms Saffin said.

“It’s been a great thing for jobs and for the economy.”

Mr Brisby said the proudest thing about the new hall was the fact all construction had been done by locals and, where possible, with local products.

“We put a great amount of pressure on ourselves to get this hall ready, but it’s certainly worth it,” Mr Brisby said.

“You could inspect all the halls around the country and you’d only find half a dozen this good.”

The school hasn’t yet been approached by community groups to use the hall, but Mr Brisby said it was a case of ‘build it and they will come’.



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