St Joseph’s College was established on the Perwillowen Road site in 1979. For many years the community had recognised the need to create a school that would enable students to finish their Catholic Education on the Sunshine Coast.
St Joseph’s Convent School (run by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan) in Currie Street was available for the girls to complete Year 10, but the only Secondary Schooling option for the boys was to leave for Boarding School or to move to the State High Schools.
Nambour Parish purchased the Perwillowen Road site from Mr and Mrs E. Harth in 1963 for the purpose of developing a Christian Brothers’ High School for boys - to be known as St Mary’s. When the plans for this school did not eventuate, Mr Ces McIntyre maintained the site as a small crops farm.
In 1978, after much lobbying and discussion within the Parish Community, a Systemic Coeducational College was planned for the site. Fearing that the community would not support the scheme, the original buildings were all demountables.
It was originally intended that the school be built on the slopes of the property, with the playing fields on top. However, the costs of construction and the difficulty of the site caused a modification to the plan and the top of the hill was flattened in order to site the buildings there. Clearing of vegetation, demolition of the original farm building and construction of a water tank were all necessary before the 1978 building program could begin.
St Joseph’s College opened for students in Years 8 to 10 at the start of 1979. With 11 staff and 99 students, only 23 of whom were boys, the College officially opened on March 21st, 1979.
The first Principal, Mr Denis Hawes, was replaced in October 1979 by Mrs Kathleen Rundall. Kathleen was responsible for the expansion of the College to Year 11 (1982) and Year 12 (1983) and for the construction of many of the permanent buildings. The Double Storey Building was opened in 1983, while the GSC, Prayer Room, Library & Administration buildings were all completed in 1984. With the support of the P&F Association the construction of the College ovals and the landscaping of the site were also undertaken.
A distinctive culture, based on pastoral care and the openness of staff and student relationships, developed during Kathleen’s time. In the early years, she remembers ‘St Joseph’s was fortunate enough to have a small, very close and supportive staff. Their strong sense of community characterised the school and this obviously flowed over to the students’. It was her vision that St Joseph’s would become a vital and active Christian community.
In these early days the sense of community was fostered by activities such as: Melbourne Cup days; the King and Queen of the Mountain race; St. John’s Day celebrations; the lunchtime Radio Station; PC Activities, including sleepovers; camping trips; Musicals and the Rock & Roll Eisteddfods.
The introduction of an innovative vertical curriculum in the Junior school, ongoing building projects, floods & landslides which closed the school, and the death of community members all combined to create a unique school spirit.
The College was renamed St John’s in 1985. This enabled the College to enhance its distinct identity and avoided the inevitable postal confusion with the Primary School.
Brendan Lawler was acting Principal during Kathleen’s long-service leave in 1987. At the end of that year Kathleen announced her resignation, to take up a position at Queensland Catholic Education. She was replaced by Mrs Wendy Cutting, who began her term as Principal at the start of the 1988 school year.
During Wendy’s time at the College, its population and reputation grew. St John’s students excelled in Academic, Sporting and Cultural pursuits. The focus of ‘Christian Community’ was maintained and the Liturgical and Social dimensions of College life flourished. Sustained growth, the celebration of College life, encouragement of the Arts and community service continued as distinctive features of the College community.
In addition, the replacement of the ‘temporary’ buildings continued. Multipurpose Courts were opened in 1989 and 1996. 1996 also saw the completion of a Performing Arts and Home Economics Building. At the start of 1997, P&F sponsored sails were installed to shade the assembly area. In 1997/98 the Administration Building was refurbished, while in 1999 a Science Block was completed.
Paul Blundell became Principal of the College in 1998, when Wendy Cutting left to take up an appointment at Brisbane Catholic Education. Chris Gold took over from Paul in 2009.
Since then there has been an emphasis on developing the infrastructure for making Information Technology available to all classrooms. A network of fibre-optic cables, distribution panels and computers now criss-crosses the College, and all students and staff have access to personal e-mail and the World Wide Web.
St John’s College was first established by the Good Samaritan Sisters as a secondary school on February 4th, 1940. Originally known as St Joseph’s, Nambour, it was situated at the convent of the Good Samaritan Sisters. The school was relocated to the Perwillowen Road site in 1979. The College was renamed St John’s in 1985 after St John the Evangelist. The adoption of the college motto: Unbind and Set Free comes from the story of the raising of Lazarus found in St. John’s Gospel.
John 11. 38-44
Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.”3 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
From such humble and temporary beginnings, St John’s has established itself as a significant Sunshine Coast educational institution.
Patron - St John the Evangelist