Charlie Allen – Principal at O’Connor Catholic College

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Principal Charlie Allen drops us a line about the exciting things to come at O’Connor Catholic College. 






How long have you been Principal at O’Connor, and what do love most about your job ?

I am in my fifth year at O’Connor. Before that, I was principal at Saint John’s College, Whyalla, South Australia, and before that I held a number of positions at McCarthy Catholic College in Tamworth.

What I love most about my job is seeing students learning and gaining knowledge and skills in all aspects of school life. I get great joy in seeing students take on responsibility and positions of leadership within the school.

I am inspired by the delight that passionate teachers show, as they teach and guide their students through life’s hurdles. However, most importantly, I look forward to seeing students pass through their school years and take their position as happy, confident, resilient members of society, with the values they have gained through their Catholic education.

Give us a quick review of term 1, 2012 at O’Connor ?

First term 2012 has been a very productive one at O’Connor. Staff returned to see that work had started on our Trade Training Centre. While we had been expecting this, it was wonderful to see that the work had started.

O’Connor students were heavily involved with the music and hospitality at Bishop Michael Kennedy’s ordination. Term 1 provided many opportunities for students to be involved in a range of sports and opportunities to progress to the next round of competition. This has occurred in swimming, hockey, touch football and rugby league.

Also in Term 1, we had a dance workshop over 3 days with Sydney choreographer, Jane Turner. Our music students have had an excursion to Sydney. This year we held our Open Day, O’Connorfest, in the warmer days of Term 1 and we held our first transition, Stage Three Enrichment Program day for current Year 6 students.

Year 7 have been to Nymboida for their annual 3-day camp. After Week 7, all families received a progress report on application and participation of students from Year 7 to Year 11. Year 12 students have just completed their half-yearly exams. On the last day of Term 1, Holy Thursday, we held an Easter paraliturgy focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus. We also held an assembly to acknowledge the founding orders of O’Connor, the De La Salle brothers and the Ursuline sisters. The morning finished with our senior student leaders organising and running a concert, where students could perform and demonstrate their talents. The afternoon was devoted to the College’s cross country.

Tell us about your new Trade Training Centre and its progress.

Our Trade Training Centre facilities will allow us to offer Australian Qualified Framework courses in Commercial Cookery and Construction. These courses allow students to commence apprenticeships and traineeships up to Certificate 3 level. The status of these courses is recognised around Australia. As well, students are able to ‘count’ the work and learning obtained in these courses as part of their HSC studies. Along with these facilities, we will be adding a Food Technology classroom, building new student facilities, new change rooms, replacing and landscaping the main quadrangle, providing an upgrade to the electricity supply and constructing new car parking facilities for staff and students. The total cost of this project is $4.5 m. This includes a grant of almost $1.4m from the Australian government. The remainder of the cost will be met by the Catholic parish of Armidale, the College’s building fund and the Catholic Schools Office of Armidale.

The project is scheduled to be fully completed by the end of October. This will give us plenty of time to be ready to move into the new facilities at the beginning of 2013.

Describe the exciting relationship your College is developing with a school in Korea.

In 2009, Dr Myung Sook-Auh, from the school of education at UNE, asked if we would be interested in doing video conferences with a school in Korea. To give our students an opportunity to learn more about an Asian culture and to explore the opportunities of learning through new technologies, I agreed to the proposal. Dr. Auh organised for us to link up with Gyeseong Catholic Girls High School in Seoul. This is our third year of conducting classes via video-conferencing. In 2011, Mr Joon Khil from Gyeseong spent two weeks in Armidale to organise a Memorandum of Understanding between Gyeseong and O’Connor. The MOU states that we will continue to video-conference and that we will provide opportunities for students to visit each other. In February 2012,10 students from Gyeseong will be in Armidale for a week and will then spend another week sightseeing in other parts of Australia. Our aim is to provide the same opportunity for our students in 2014.

While we were organising a class this term, Dr. Auh was contacted by the Prime Minister’s Office to say that the Prime Minister would be visiting Gyeseong on 26 March and asked if we would be interested in having the Prime Minister join the video-conference. Not only was this offer accepted, but other schools in Armidale who video-conference with other Korean schools were invited to join the class.

What is your school’s connection with popular local band Maxwell Street?

Our connection with Maxwell Street is through one of our teachers, Mr Garry Osborne, who is the drummer in the band.

Maxwell Street played at our Blues on the Green at the Armidale Golf Club, and will again be providing the music for our event this year on 26 May.

When is your next Open Day, and who can attend?

We provide three open days or Stage Three Enrichment Days (STEP) each year for Year 6 students to gain an insight to what O’Connor has to offer for Year 7. Our next STEP Day will be held on Tuesday 22 May. This day will be open to all Year 6 students who would like to find out more about what O’Connor has to offer for Year 7.

Parents/carers wanting their Year 6 son or daughter to attend should contact the school on 6772 1666, to help us prepare and cater for the day. That evening at 7pm we will have an information evening for parents wanting to find out in more detail the various programs we have for students at O’Connor.

Thanks Charlie.

This story was published in issue 60 of New England Focus

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