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News > From the Archives > Emerald Anniversary for our Secondary Campus

Emerald Anniversary for our Secondary Campus

As we commemorate 20 years of our Epping Campus, we share a brief history of our Secondary Campus.
Students and staff on the first day of our Secondary Campus.
Students and staff on the first day of our Secondary Campus.

Our Secondary Campus opened in 2003. However, the desire for our School to become a Pre-School to Year 12 School was first raised 20 years earlier in 1983. It was at this time that the School Council established a sub-committee, tasked with the responsibility of investigating the development of a Secondary Campus. Despite enthusiasm and support for the project, the sub-committee disbanded as no suitable location could be found.

Over the next decade or so, the idea of a Secondary Campus was never far from the minds of our School Leadership Team. Parents of Upper Primary students were surveyed to gauge their interest in the development, whilst the School Council, Building Committee and Finance Committee spent time exploring the possibility of becoming a Pre-School to Year 12 School. As the millennium drew to a close, it was announced to our community that the School Council was committed to establishing a Secondary Campus, depending upon the availability of a site.  

In 2001, the dream became a reality when the School Council purchased the Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) site at 50 Oxford Street, Epping. Our community newsletter, The Friends of Arden, reported:
“The next exciting phase of Arden’s development and commitment to quality co-education, is the establishment of a secondary campus at Epping. This will open at the beginning of 2003 with three Year 7 classes…”
Although OLMC had closed its doors in 1993, the site was leased by the American International School of Sydney at the time of purchase. With considerable classroom space, science and art rooms and a library, the School Council finalised plans to make several structural and aesthetic modifications.

Throughout 2002, our school community worked hard to ensure the Secondary Campus would be ready for the beginning of the 2003 school year. The uniform was designed and went into production, key staff were appointed and interviews for prospective students were held. The curriculum was finalised, as were assessment and reporting procedures, with the School passing its inspection by the Board of Studies. The Friends of Arden (July 2002, p. 1) provided the following update:
“An army of builders, painters and other tradespersons are working hard on the property at Epping. The science labs are being renewed and a physics lecture room is being constructed. Wood technology/food technology/textiles and computer rooms are being installed and will meet the requirements for 26 students per class. Our creative arts department will have available three music studios, a music classroom as well as the cultural centre/hall, which will be adequate for drama and dance activities. A purpose-built library, with internet access, is on site and the art department’s two purpose-built art rooms are ready for students, one room housing a kiln and the other a dark-room… Painting of the whole exterior of Oxford Street, plumbing and roofing and the renovation of classrooms are all progressing well. Some landscaping is also being carried out and we are also astroturfing the outer courts…”

On 29 January 2003, 43 excited, but nervous, Year 7 students (and staff) walked through the gates of our Secondary Campus for the first time, beginning the next chapter of our School’s then 80 year history. The official opening took place on 17 May 2003, during one of the wettest weeks in Sydney’s history. The outdoor event, involving 2000 members of our community, had to be relocated indoors with only Year 7 students and 250 guests in attendance. “Unlike the weather, the spirits of those in attendance were not dampened and the intimacy of the venue, coupled with the strong Christian message throughout, ensured that the occasion would live long and fondly in the memories of all the participants.” (The Friends of Arden, August 2002, p. 1)

As student numbers at our Secondary Campus increased, it became evident that additional space was required. After a complex and lengthy battle in the Land and Environment Court, the Cambridge Senior Study Centre opened in 2008. Located across two floors of the Cambridge Office Park in Oxford Street, the Cambridge Senior Study Centre was designed to ease the transition from school to university and the corporate world. 2008 was also the year our inaugural Year 12 students graduated.

With uncertainty surrounding the ongoing use of the Cambridge Office Park, there became a need for permanent additional space. Consequently, the School Council developed the Secondary Campus Master Plan and on 3 September 2018, construction began on the Essex Building. The seven-storey building, which was officially opened in March 2020, is creatively connected to the 1973 OLMC building and includes The Arden Creative Arts Centre, design and technology workshops, science labs, classrooms, office and administration spaces, car parking and a rooftop terrace.

With almost 1000 students across our Junior and Secondary Campuses, Arden is now a thriving Pre-School to Year 12 school. We are thankful to all those who had the passion, dedication and foresight to make our School the place we know and enjoy today.

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