Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Energy and Environment) (19:07): I pay tribute to a great educational institution in Hornsby, Pacific Hills Christian School. This year the school is celebrating 40 years in operation—a phenomenal achievement. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the staff, parents and students who have been part of the school for the past four decades. Recently I was pleased to join the school for its official birthday celebrations, and it was wonderful to hear some of the great things the school has achieved over those 40 years. The principal is the great man, Dr Ted Boyce, who has been at the helm since 1985. He has created a school that is dedicated to ensuring the success of each and every student who passes through the gates. He is an asset to the school, and I have no doubt the reason it has been so successful.
When it opened its doors in 1979 the school was called the Pennant Hills Christian School. It had just eight students, one teacher and two rooms rented at the Lutanda Children's Home, which was an orphanage located in Pennant Hills. The first principal was Mr Ken Oliver. Word spread about the success of the school and in its second year student numbers grew to 41. In 1981 it started secondary classes and integrated students living with a disability into mainstream classes. By 1985 the school had outgrown the Pennant Hills location and needed a new base, which was when it moved to Quarry Road in Dural.
From those humble beginnings in 1985, the school has grown to be the impressive nine-hectare campus it is today. Having visited the school many times, I know the school community is immensely proud of the grounds and facilities. With these state-of-the-art facilities, students can take part in many extracurricular activities. Students can join the STEM club, which competes with other schools to design and build a Formula One car. They can compete in interschool sporting competitions or perform in the school musical—and I tell you the latest production of Mary Poppins would have rivalled any by the Sydney Theatre Company. This is just one example of the many great things on offer at Pacific Hills Christian School. It certainly does not do anything by halves and every student who attends the school comes away with a well-rounded education and the ability to participate in a huge number of events and activities.
Dural is not the only campus, with five other schools in country regions. Schools also operate out of Tweed Heads, Maclean and Muswellbrook. In 2015 the Pacific Hills Christian School started New Hope School, which is a special school that caters for children with autism and mild to moderate disabilities. New Hope School is located on the same campus and is a wonderful learning environment for the students. Students at New Hope School are given individual support and small group work to ensure the best outcomes for every single one of them. I have always loved to visit New Hope School to meet the students and see how well they are progressing.
Teaching students the importance of service is vital to Pacific Hills Christian School. Each student is taught the importance of giving back to the community not just locally but around the world. Each year up to 15 teams travel to different parts of the world to serve people in need. The younger students are involved in more local activities, such as visiting retirement villages, while older students attend events around the Sydney area. These are just some of the reasons the school is a stand-out in the Hornsby area. I congratulate the staff of Pacific Hills Christian School on everything they do in the community.
I attended the recent fortieth anniversary celebrations with my colleague the Federal member for Berowra, Julian Leeser, and the Mayor of Hornsby, the Hon. Philip Ruddock. It is unusual to have all three levels of government represented at an event, and it is a testament to the profound impact that Pacific Hills Christian School has had over 40 years on its students, their families, its staff and the wider community. For over four decades the school has gone from eight students with one teacher in two rooms to around 1,300 students with 150 staff on more than nine hectares. The transformation is worthy of celebration. But we should also celebrate what has not changed over 40 years: the commitment of parents to build a community of faith around their children.
We celebrate the hard work and sacrifice of generations of parents. We celebrate the staff who have devoted themselves to nurturing every child and developing their God-given talents. We celebrate the ethic of service that characterises the outstanding young people who graduate each year. As the local State member of Parliament, I come across Pacific Hills graduates almost every day in almost every walk of life. They are proud of the school, and we are proud of them. They are the school's greatest legacy. Congratulations on 40 years, Pacific Hills Christian School. I wish you another 40 years of educating the young people of the district in wisdom and knowledge in Christ.