A PROJECT six years in the making was officially opened at St Joseph's High School in Aberdeen on Tuesday.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce joined other special guests, including Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright, chief executive officer Sean Scanlon, acting director of schools Gerard Mowbray, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood and local principal Robert Holstein, at a special ceremony - and blessing - to acknowledge the significant milestone and completion of stage two.
It brings to fruition a $7.8 million capital works project to refurbish facilities at the school, one of 11 secondary schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The venture is all part of the organisation's ongoing investment in the overhaul of existing Catholic schools to enhance the learning environment for students and staff.
"I'm absolutely delighted to be here today - and happy the federal government, which contributed $3,346,041 in funding, played a role," Mr Joyce said.
"It was great to visit St Joseph's and see the new facilities first-hand and the impact they will have on students' learning potential."
He added pupils, and the entire school community, would benefit from the upgrade.
"These capital works have resulted in the refurbishment of Technical and Applied Technology areas, hospitality, art and food technology facilities, student amenities for the school's 672 pupils and a new administration facility, staff facilities, learning support rooms for the 77 members of staff," Mr Joyce said.
"As part of the project, there is also a new canteen and the Moylan Hall has been extended."
The diocese is also investing in meeting the growing demand for Catholic education in the Hunter-Manning region by building new schools and extending existing schools, which are home to more than 8400 primary and 11,200 secondary students, according to Mr Scanlon.
"A new secondary school, St Bede's Catholic College in Chisholm, is being built over four stages," he said.
"With stage one completed, the school opened its doors to more than 100 students who started at the college in Year 7 in January in 2018.
"Once the remaining three stages are completed, the school will have in excess of 1100 pupils.
"We've also increased the number of Year 11 classes in our secondary schools, having in January last year enrolled 65 Year 11 students at St Mary's Catholic College in Gateshead and 75 Year 11 students at St Joseph's College in Lochinvar.
"In addition, last year two schools - St Peter's (Years 7-10) and St Mary's (Years 11-12) - came together under the All Saints banner.
"The result is that at All Saints College in Maitland, learning teams have oversight of every student from Year 7 through to Year 12."