Shalom College’s embrace of advanced teaching methods and power generation were in evidence today with the official blessing and opening of two multi-million-dollar facilities.

The $8m Waterford Building and $3.3m Shalom College Solar Farm facilities were officially opened by the Bishop of Rockhampton Michael McCarthy and Diocesan Director of Catholic Education for Rockhampton Leesa Jeffcoat.

The Waterford Building, designed by Tony Madden architects and built by Murchie Constructions, will deliver state of the art flexible learning areas for generations to come.

Installed by GEM Energy, the Shalom solar farm is the largest of its kind in an Australian private education facility with 810kW of capacity courtesy of more than 2000 panels and 1160kW of Tesla battery power.

Shalom College Principal Dan McMahon said the two projects presented fantastic opportunities for the school community.

“The solar farm is such a great sign to our students about a different future,” Dan said.

“The fact that Shalom can say that we’re (effectively) 100 per cent renewable energy reliant is just a wonderful sign for our young people, who are going to be the leaders of the future, that anything is possible.”

Dan said the Waterford Building was also a nod to the future, this time in the way teaching is delivered, with the building’s flexible layout enabling students to work as a class or break into smaller work groups for more specialised learning.

“It’s teaching and learning done in a modern style, in a different way, that is so much better than when I went to school,” he said.

“To see students collaborating well together and working in teams and being so differentiated by our teachers because they’ve got a great space to do it in, it’s just a huge step forward. We’re very excited.”

Dan said the school had just approved a new master plan, featuring $35m worth of works, to guide it through the next 10 years, but added that the school would not lose sight of its prime purpose.

“My biggest job as principal is to ensure the culture of the school is positive, that young people can walk in here every day and feel safe, that they can feel secure where they are, that they’re in good facilities, that they’re well managed, and they live up to expectations,” he said.

“Culture is the biggest driver of any organisation. Buildings, and those things, they’re nice, but they’re not nearly as important as a good culture in a school.”

Shalom solar project leads way

GEM Energy CEO Jack Hooper said the solar farm project demonstrated that the transition to 100 per cent renewable power could be achieved by schools and organisations.

“It’s projects like this that are responsible for changing expectations and really showing society and community that this is the future, and this is how it’s achieved,” he said.

Jack said GEM Energy had provided several large solar power projects and about 50 smaller projects for Catholic schools throughout Queensland, with another 40 on the way in the Townsville area alone.

He said schools, corporations and religious organisations had taken on responsible roles as stewards of the environment.

“And those are the organisations that should be making a change and driving change and setting the example,” he said.

“Shalom, as a leader in this space, are able to show their students good stewardship and set an expectation for students coming through that this is the future of energy and let’s embrace it.“