Ballarat Secondary College’s Barkly campus has finally closed its historic doors.
The BSC senior campus since 2000, it has been shut down due to dwindling enrolment numbers.
BSC principal Rick Gervasoni said it was sad to walk away from such a significant building but the school remained focused on its students.
“It’s about the kids and providing what we think is the best possible environment for them,” Mr Gervasoni said.
“Numbers were going down and it wasn’t viable anymore. And everyone has to travel to get here.
“But it’s going to be sad when we finally walk out.”
The campus – located in the former historic Ballarat East Town Hall in Barkly Street – was first opened by then premier Steve Bracks in 2000.
It was also formerly the Ballarat Girls’ School and used as a School of Mines Ballarat satellite site.
It became the Ballarat Secondary College senior school following a merger of Midlands, East and Wendouree secondary colleges in the late 1990s and the subsequent closure of the Midlands’ Norman Street site.
However, enrolment numbers have dropped over the past few years, and a decision was made to make the junior schools of East and Wendouree into years 7 to 12 campuses and close the Barkly St site.
Barkly campus head Sharon Hope and psychology teacher Beck Dawes were the only two permanent teachers in 2016, with other staff travelling from the junior schools as needed.
Ms Hope said the school was completely renovated before its 2000 opening due to its derelict state and, at its peak, had nearly 500 students.
It is estimated between 6000 and 7000 students have been through its doors in 17 years.
“Predominantly our enrolments came from our Wendouree and East sites,” Ms Hope said.
“But it’s fair to say, we also had a large number of external enrolments.”
Ms Hope said she and Ms Dawes had plenty of time to prepare for their departure date.
“A school isn’t a school without students,” she said.
However, Ms Dawes said she had been quite emotional on the last student day.
The 2016 VCE cohort started with 65 and ended with 62, as both Wendouree and East campuses started year 11 studies on their sites this year.
“Our expectations were really high for the students but we didn’t differentiate from what we with did with all the other years,” Ms Hope said.
“We were as organised and as structured as previous years but they took that on, the mantle of being the last cohort.”
Mr Gervasoni will be based at the Wendouree campus, which will be known as Mt Rowan from next year, with an office at the East, or Woodman’s Hill, site.
Ms Hope will be based at Mt Rowan and Ms Dawes at Woodman’s Hill.
Mr Gervasoni said enrolments had risen slightly at both campuses, which had struggled for numbers in the past few years, but it was hoped the establishment of two separate year 7 to 12 schools would help boost figures.
The Education Department will take over the Barkly Street site with its future use yet to be confirmed.
However, a Pro Hart painting that currently dominates the foyer will be transferred to the East campus.
Historic photographs onsite will remain with the building but will be placed with a local historical group for safekeeping in the interim.
“We’ve had amazing staff and students throughout this school,” Ms Hope said.
“Our Back to Barkly event attended by 500 people in September showed the strong connection people have with the school.
“Now we’re looking forward to exciting new opportunities.”