Founded in 1986, Kurunjang Secondary College is situated 35km north-west of Melbourne. Originally named Kurunjang Post Primary School and located in the rapidly growing satellite city of Melton, our college was the third educational option for secondary students in the area.
Until 1985, two choices within the state education system existed in Melton – a High School and a Technical School. Post Primary Schools were a new education concept that aimed to provide access to both technical and academic courses, or a combination. The Post Primary School model allowed for students to choose an educational pathway that was consistent with their individual interests and aspirations. As a result, Kurunjang Post Primary School was founded and was one of eight post primary schools in Victoria; three of which were located in the Western Region.
In the formation of Kurunjang Post Primary School, parents, students, teaching staff and the community guided the formation of the school and its governance – as it does today. By 1989, and in line with other government schools, Kurunjang Post Primary School was renamed Kurunjang Secondary College. By continuing to offer exceptional technical and trade offerings alongside academic courses, our college has retained not only the key features, but the educational philosophy, behind the post primary model.
The name ‘Kurunjang’ derives from the Kurun jang balluk of the Wurundjeri-willam, a clan of the Woi Wurrung in Kulin Nation. Furthermore, ‘Kurun jang balug’ is a name from the Woi Wurrung language that can be translated as ‘red earth’, ‘red land’ and ‘people of the red gum’. At official functions and assemblies, the Kurun jang balluk clan and Kulin nation are acknowledged. In addition, and at the front of our college, both Australian and Indigenous flags are proudly flown from the flag masts.
Kurunjang Secondary College reinforced its connection with its indigenous heritage and local traditional owners by naming the original four mini schools and, in later years, its Houses, after Kulin groups that lived within the region. These names were Wathaurung (Red House), Jaara (Blue House), Bunurong (Yellow House), and Wurundjeri (Green House). Two of the original house colours – Bunurong and Wurundjeri – were changed after the first iteration of the House system was adopted.
Our College Logo – the River Redgum – was adopted for its association with the Kurun jang balluk clan and how indigenous knowledge is passed down the generations. On the corner of Kurunjang Drive and Centenary Avenue, a large river redgum remains – it is thought the Kurun jang balluk clan would gather under this tree and pass on local knowledge to others passing through their country. In our college magazine, this tree has been referred to as ‘the tree of knowledge’ and has remained our college logo. Our College colours – Sion Red, Blue and Gold – were chosen for their representations of the red earth, blue sky and sun.
Our first principal, Michael Duffy, not only oversaw the building of the college but also the foundations of the educational philosophies that continue to exist within Kurunjang Secondary College today. Mr Duffy considered how the education of children is a team effort – a partnership between parents, students, the college and its community – how these connections are important in a child’s educational journey.
By 1986, our college was ready for its first cohort of 150 Year 7 students. As the college did not have any toilets, electricity, heating, phones and limited furniture, students were given an extra week of school holidays. At this early stage, the site was a complex of portable classrooms. Phase One of the school’s building project, a gymnasium, was completed during the first year. Over the coming years, the Science Block, Administration area, general purpose classrooms – including the Humanities and Maths classrooms, and the Technology Block were completed. Over the ensuing 30 years, and as the student population fluctuated, the number of portable classrooms changed. A self-funded building expansion saw the construction of the front Foyer’s gallery space, a Conference Room, the remodelling of the General Office and expansion of the Library that included designated classroom space and Careers and Literacy offices. Storage areas were remodelled and became computer pods (replete with Apple IIe computers), classroom reading areas and teacher offices.
For Kurunjang Secondary College, the 1990s saw a population that, at one stage, numbered over 1500 students. This large student population saw an increase in teaching staff, administration and educational support staff who continued to invest in student success. By 1994, Mr Duffy had retired. His dedication was rewarded with a college that achieved a high profile of student success in the community. After Mr Duffy’s retirement, Mr Irving Stephens was seconded to our college for 3 months as Acting College Principal until a new appointment was made.