Nod to the past, embrace for the future, as St Patrick's, Macksville, on the move: PHOTOS

IN A DAY rich with symbolism at St Patrick's School, Macksville, students, staff, parents and friends rode a wave of reflection and renewal on Friday.

Under a blazing sun, the St Pat's wider community marked a closing liturgy and ceremoniously closed the doors for the final time at the site which had served the school so well for almost 100 years.

Despite the stifling conditions, the children sat in silence for 15 musical minutes, before selected staff delivered a string of parting thoughts, including Father Shelwin Fernandez, who coincidentally just happened to be celebrating his birthday.

Teachers Julie Ryan and Helen Spear - the longest serving at 30-years-plus - had more cause for sentiment than many.

While the delight of a new purpose-built school next year was clear, Julie said St Pat's had always been more about community than physical amenity.

Principal Vin Butler admitted it was a chapter of mixed emotion in the life of the school.

While it was sad to be leaving behind the bricks and mortar of the old site - and to bid farewell to the Year 6 cohort - he said it was exciting to be moving to a brand new school.

And that they shortly did - with a tour of the new St Pat's for students, staff and family members minutes after they bade farewell to the old digs.

But saying goodbye to the old St Patrick's was a wrench, and many a moist eye could be seen. Former students, like the caretaker who lovingly cares for the grounds, recalled all the changes over the years since he left St Pat's as a young lad in short shorts back in '74.

The current Year 6 students will also look back in years to come and remember well this transitory day.

Fittingly, they left a gift to the school - a 'buddy bench'.

The bench will stand in the grounds for the generations to come, "and if you are feeling sad just sit on the Buddy Bench and someone will come along and ask you to play," said a Year 6 student in handing over the wooden seat.

While the morning was a time for ritual and goodbyes, lunchtime was a window on the days ahead as school children and the wider community toured the new St Pat's site.

And impressive and thoroughly modern it is.

The rooms are open plan, cleverly designed and embedded with the latest technology.

Outside there are soft-fall areas, a covered outdoor learning area, courts and grassed sports fields and a spanking rural outlook.

It is a magnificent facility - and the perfect place to start a new history in the community of St Patrick's School, Macksville.

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