31 October 2023

Napranum's new school cuts ribbon

| Sarah Martin
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new school opening

Napranum’s new primary school, Kluthuthu Christian College, was officially opened on Friday. Photo: Alex Rethus.

A tradesman’s dream in Melbourne eight years ago has finally turned into reality in Napranum, with the Kluthuthu Christian College officially opening on Friday (27 October).

The idea for the school, which has been operating since February, sprung from a dream Mark Howard shared with his wife Dr Avril Howard in 2015.

“In my dream, I walked into a room where people were playing pool and on the table was a map of Australia,” Mr Howard explained.

“As I’m looking at this map, one of the people said, ‘We can start a Christian school here’, and the word Weipa appeared at the top of the map’.”

Mr Howard said he had never heard of Weipa, but after googling it, he and his wife booked plane tickets for the Cape and soon heard that nearby Napranum had no school.

“For me, that was confirmation that I needed to come and put a school there, and so started the long eight-year journey to get that school started,” he said.

Mr Howard said he had to acknowledge the hard work of his wife, who is a doctor of education, as well as other educators involved in the project for their tireless efforts with the administration behind starting a school.

“I might have had a dream and they call me the founder, but my wife (and others) were really the ones who did all the hard work, all the heavy lifting,” he said.

As well as financial and administrative hurdles, with the school privately funded as it gets up and running, on-the-ground consultation and construction met numerous roadblocks.

“It was not an easy task. We had delay after delay, if it wasn’t the wet season, it was Covid or a lack of supplies,” he said.

“But it was the Elders who kept asking us to come back, and that really motivated me to keep going.”

School principal Vernon Clark said the non-denominational school, which is affiliated with Christian Schools Australia, had classes for Prep to Year 6 and continued to expand.

“We started with 13 students in February, and we now have 24, with three more enrolling last week,” Mr Clark said.

“Things are really happening; it’s slow and steady, but we are moving in the right direction.”

The school, which has capped class numbers at 10 to ensure high teacher-to-student ratios, is already discussing adding more classes to cater for the growing number of enrolments.

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