Presbyterian Ladies’ College’s (PLC) Beth Blackwood Senior School was officially opened on 25 May 2016 in honour of PLC’s immediate past Principal, who left the school last October after 18 years of service.
Blessed with a sunny day in the midst of the stormy weather, the opening took place outside on the Quad, facing the impressive new limestone and steel building. The five Vice-chancellors of WA’s universities attended the opening as well as Rev Steve Francis, moderator of the Uniting Church WA, representatives from other schools, PLC students, staff and members of the school community. For Beth, it was the culmination of years of planning.
First designed as part of a plan for the campus back in 1999 by architect Marcus Collins, construction began late in 2014 and was completed in February this year. Sadly, Marcus passed away last year before building was completed.
Beth paid homage to his vision and passion to create a space that is both functional and beautiful.
“Winston Churchill stated that we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us,” she said in her address. “This building represents that shift away from an industrial factory model style education to one that is relational, flexible and comfortable. I am delighted to see what we set out to achieve with this building, which was to bring greater connectivity and a sense of community with this campus.”
The new building has been designed to prepare senior students for tertiary and work environments through a more open, collaborative learning space. The new area occupies three levels and each floor has learning as well as communal spaces.
Beth said she was delighted with the outcome and felt humbled to be acknowledged as the namesake.
“This feels like a reward for having had an amazing and rewarding job!” she said. “It is hard to describe how I feel about such an honour, in fact it is surreal, a bit embarrassing, but with such a sense of having been a valued member of this community.”
Students have been enjoying their new space, which includes a Year 12 Common Room with kitchenette overlooking the Quad, as well as a health kiosk serving fresh juices, hot beverages and healthy snacks.
Beth Blackwood now resides in Canberra as the Chief Executive of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools (AHISA).