It was a night long expected, and the flurry of activity during the afternoon and early evening confirmed that the moment so eagerly awaited since 1994 was finally upon us.
The stage frowned emptily over the gathering crowd at 7 o'clock and the rows of chairs yawned, waiting for the promenading staff and friends to take their places. The schoolboy band pumped out lively music to set the tenor of the evening while a host of school officers and prefects mingled with the onlookers all decked out in their Scotch aprons and vainly trying to tempt individuals with refreshments. As the dusk began to descend the swirl and skirl of the Pipe Band took over and echoed around and off the buildings, seemingly calling up the memories of the thousands of former pupils and staff to witness both the special procession and the ceremonial opening of the Staff Centre built for the next millennium.
While spectators and friends took their seats, the staff gathered by the Memorial Hall and robed, adding flashes of colour to the slowly deepening light. More activity from the Old Common Room indicated that the moment was drawing nearer, as did the appearance on the Old Common Room steps of a number of famous names from the previous staff lists, not least amongst which was former Vice Principal Ron Bond, and senior figures such as Stan Brown, Leon Bates, Frank Paton and George Logie-Smith. Suddenly a sharp command from the steps brought the staff to order and, led by Stephen Kong and David Paul (the longest serving member of staff), the past and present staff processed in pairs from the Old Common Room.
Around the Memorial Chapel to the New Staff Centre, fulfilling the tradition of continuity which forms so great a part of the spirit of Scotch. With due solemnity the staff filed to their seats and waited while the official party mounted the stage to prepare for the official ceremony.
While the absence through illness of Professor Selby-Smith was regarded with sadness, it was most fitting that the unveiling of the plaque was performed by Mr Bruce Lithgow, who had opened the other part of the Lithgow Resource Centre in 1993 and who is indeed a great Old Collegian. Recalling the names and spirits of staff and fellow students from fifty years earlier, Mr Lithgow again proved the links which sustain the school, and which point us firmly in the direction of the future.
Before the unveiling, however, both the current Chairman of the School Council Mr Michael Robinson and the Principal spoke in glowing terms of the extraordinary achievements of the school over the last ten years in fulfilling the development plans for that decade, and of the beauty and functional worth of the new Staff Centre.
In particular Dr Donaldson emphasised the changes in the demands on space and time for staff as we approach the turn of the century, and detailed some of the technological marvels of the new Centre.
It was a fitting acknowledgment of the staff and all that they contribute to the school to make it the world-class institution that it clearly is.
The honour of cutting the ribbon fell to Mr Stephen Ritchie, President of the Common Room Association, who also spoke in glowing terms of the new staff facility and the ways in which it will meet both the present and foreseeable needs of the Scotch staff. After the official moment, the building was thrown open to the public for exploration and examination.
The atrium with the gentle tinkling of the fountain quickly became for the evening, as during the day, the centre of activity, and the clear links both visually and physically between the Library and Staff Centre were quickly and easily established.
Staff, friends and visitors alike were duly impressed by the scale of the building and scope of the facilities.
Things really have progressed from the days of the Longmore Staff Room in 1965, which was built to house up to 60 staff. With 110 teaching staff currently at Scotch, the Lithgow Staff Centre will indeed be well used, and will carry us into the next millennium.
Scotch College: ABN 86 852 826 445 ACN 005 650 395 CRICOS 00624A (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students)