An amazing legacy...
Few schools in this country have created such an amazing legacy in such a short space of time.
In 1985, when the original board of trustees established the small, single-campus school at the end of Ogilvie Place in Kooralbyn, it is unlikely that they could have invisaged the number of Olympians, business leaders, international sports persons, politicians and successful alumni that The Kooralbyn International School now boasts.
In less than forty years, the tiny school that has collectively graduated fewer than 2,000 students in its combined history, has defied statistics by producing TWO Young Australians of the Year, TWO World Top 5 PGA golfers, ONE Australian of The Year, the youngest university undergraduate in the country and an ongoing list of outstanding young men and women.
Over the years...
The Early Years - Lower Campus
The Early Years at TKIS are typified by amazing successes, a boarding school that serves the Asian-Pacific region and TWO devasting floods on the school's lower campus, that spell the end of the first phase of the school.
- 1985 :: The original school opens as a Secondary School in what is now known as the Lower Campus (where the new modern campus has recently returned home to.)
- 1988 :: The school gains international acclaim as a school of excellence in Golf, Cricket, Track and Field (Gold Medal Olympian Cathy Freeman is a student in the Sports program at the time) and the arts.
- 1989 :: The school reaches a population of 200 (mainly international students from Papua New Guinea and other Asia/Pacific nations.)
- 1990 :: The school is virtually flattened in a flash flood that leaves very few buildings standing. Meteorologists suggest that it was a 'once in a hundred years' flood.
- 1991 :: Just as the school is rebuilt following the flood of 1990, another devastating flood occurs... this time the only buildings left standing are the new Science block, Dining Hall and Junior Boys Dormitory. A decision is made to rebuild the school 400 metres up the road on higher ground...in what is today referred to as the Old Upper Campus.
- 1992 :: Most of the current buildings on the Upper Campus are completed and the school re-opens again....for the second time in as many years. TKIS Primary School is also opened....to service the local population of the Kooralbyn Valley which is estimated to now be approaching 800 residents.
- 1995 :: The school prospers and its reputation becomes world famous. Through the years 1993 to 1996, various achievements are won including Golf and Cricket Teams (coached by a soon-to-be Australian Cricket Coach) reaching the World School's Finals and a large number of individual achievements...all of which help build the reputation of this small school dedicated to excellence.
- 1997 :: From 1995 to 1999, various foreign factors begin to detrimentally effect the school's enrolment of international students... SARS virus, Asian economy collapse, terrorist attacks throughout Asia, middle east conflicts, etc. This combined with the heavy debt level still being carried by the school from its two rebuilds from floods back in the early 90's, begins to impact on the small, proud school.
- 2000 :: Despite its many impressive results, including two 'Young Australians of The Year' having graduated from the school, the financial pressures are mounting. The local population is not big enough to sustain the school and as a result the Primary School section of TKIS is closed down with just 23 students.
- 2001 :: Still struggling with rebuilding costs from the floods of a decade before and unable to cope with the ongoing downturn in the International student market, the school was forced to close its doors to a disbelieving community. On its last day in April, the school had just 156 students (only 34 of whom, were local day students.)
- 2002 :: The school premises and properties are purchased by Hilton Hall Properties Pty Ltd, the owners of the neighbouring Kooralbyn Resort.
Middle Years - Upper Campus
For eighteen months from April 2001, the school is moth-balled as the new owners of the various campuses and properties seek to find an approved governing body to breath life back into the internationally famous school. A new governing body was appointed by the Queensland Minister for Education in 2003 and Kooralbyn was gazetted to reopen in 2004 and the school begins the second phase of its celebrated life.
- 2003 :: A group of academics and business-people (headed by the current principal of the school, Geoff Mills), mount a campaign to re-open an 'inclusive school of excellence' and in November 2003 obtain Government accreditation to re-open The Kooralbyn International School as a private Secondary School with government funding.
- 2004 :: In April 2004, the school reopens as a Grade 8 to 10 Secondary School in what is now known as the Old Upper Campus. This time however, there is much more local support and local Australian students constitute 100% of the school's enrolments right up until 2006.
- 2005 :: The school consolidates, doubling its 2004 enrolment numbers and enlarges into Senior Studies, adding Grades 11 and 12 as it had previously.
- 2006 :: The school enlarges again, adding a Prep to Grade 7 Primary School, meaning that the school is now a Prep to Grade 12 school. The school also obtains its CRICOS Accreditation to allow it to begin accepting International Students again for the first time since the original school closure of 2001.
- 2007 :: The new school's efforts in striving for academic excellence begin to pay off with the school's Grade 12 OP results for the year being one of the best in the state. 100% of the small school's OP-Eligible Students obtained an OP1-15 and all of its original small cohort of Grade 12 students were OP eligible and all went on to university in the following year. Student enrolments continue to grow.
- 2008 :: Amidst what was later to be known as the Global Economic Crisis, the owners of the local Kooralbyn International Resort go into receivership and the iconic Kooralbyn Resort closes down. Though this has no direct impact on the school itself, confidence in the local Kooralbyn community falls to an all-time low and enrolment numbers fall for the first time since the school reopened in 2004.
- 2009 :: Capitalising on the Federal Government's BER Building the Education Revolution economic stimulus program, the school's governing body purchase a property at the end of Ogilvie Place Kooralbyn (adjoining its rented lower campus) and construct a $1.12m Multi-Purpose Hall including heated indoor Swimming Pool, indoor tennis court and associated facilities. It's the first major capital investment for the school in over 10 years and is a major turning point in the school's community confidence.
- 2010 :: Celebrating 25 years since the original TKIS was founded, the new TKIS has a great year both academically and on the sporting fields. The school's Year 12 OP results are once again among the best in the state and the small school has a remarkable eight state representatives covering a range of sports including golf, equestrian and athletics.
- 2011 :: Following several years of development, the school launches its Specialised University Preparation (SUPr) Program in high school and converts its once optional Mastery and Excellence Programs (covering various sports and artistic disciplines) into a compulsory program for all its high school students.
- 2012 :: Now fully recovered from the confidence shortfalls of 2008, the small school continues to grow and passes 250 students with 10% of its cohort being full-fee paying international students and 90% local Australian students. Like it had since 2010 the small school continues to produce a statistically outstanding number of state representatives in Athletics, Equestrian, Swimming and other specialised sporting disciplines.
- 2014 :: Meanwhile, though the school had been steadily marching along, the local Kooralbyn Resort, had been in receivership since the GEC of 2008. A local real estate company finally purchases the resort and all its associated assets, including the properties that the school had been renting since 2003. The school raises capital to purchase the larger of its rented campuses from the new owners. Adjoining the acreage block that the school had already purchased back in 2008 to accommodate its BER-funded sports hall, the school now finally had a collective space to redevelop with confidence. This marks the end of the middle era and the beginning of the modern era, a period of growth, expansion and confidence ...and the chapter in the school's history where it was once again, seized command of its own destiny.
New Campus at end of Ogilvie Place
It's 2014, the school now owns its own premises but must begin the long process of replacing and rebuilding what the original govenors had created in the mid-80s.
- 2015 :: The school continues to rent its Upper Campus while planning and preparing for the mammoth task of rebuilding and redesigning its recently purchased lower campus. Capital Grants are sought and won, designs and specifications to replace the old lower campus with a modern state-of-the-art digital environment are put in place and the slow transformation process begins. Meanwhile, NAPLAN results are the best they have been at Kooralbyn for some time and as usual, the Grade 12 OP results and State Representation in sports continue to be exemplary.
- 2016 :: Designs for the school's new lower campus A Block - Admin, Dorms, Kitchen, Cafeteria, Offices, Sickbays and covered play areas are finalised but construction is delayed to take advantage of cost savings and efficiencies associated with a new 8-room Primary school building and a 4-room high school extension which are applied for and won through the State and Federal Government's Block Grant Authority process. In all, including state government Infrastructure Grants and three rounds of BGA funding, the school raises over $6m for the redevelopment of its lower campus...including roadworks, plumbing, sewerage works and school-wide fibre connection to the Internet.
- 2017 :: This would be the last full year occupying the rented Upper Campus that had served the school well since the mid-nineties. Patience wears thin as everyone awaits the promised redevelopment of the school's lower campus, but then little by little, signs of new life on site begin to appear. Then in April, on the last day of Term 1, a flood from the Cyclone Debbie aftermath engulfs the lower campus wiping out the temporary buildings that had been established by the construction companies and again, building is delayed for more months.
- 2018 :: As enrolment numbers burst through the 300 mark for the first time in the school's history and facilities in the school's old rented upper campus clearly begin to approach their 'use-by' dates, there is growing pressure on the school to relocate to its new campus at the end of Ogilvie Place as soon as possible. Students and staff walk past the gleaming new buildings on the lower campus as they head back to their tired classrooms in the old upper campus. It's a tough couple of months for the school, until finally, at the start of Term 4, the school officially relocates to its new campus at 79C Ogilvie Place....amidst every teething problem and chaos possible... including telephones and Internet systems that don't work, plumbing and toilets that back-up, elevator failures, a primary school oval that turns into a swamp at the slightest hint of rain and lights that turn on and off randomly and annoyingly. But despite the almost comedic array of problems...the beautiful new campus is finally operational. It is noted, that the school has gone 'full circle'. It started with a single campus at the end of Ogivile Place in 1985 and returned to that exact same campus (albeit with an additional adjoining 7 acres and Multipurpose hall added in 2008 and a $6 million facility upgrade) thirty-two years later in 2018.
- 2019 :: The old upper campus was officially removed from the school's register at the end of February and on a warm morning in March, the new campus buildings and facilities at the end of Ogilvie Place are officially opened by Ministers of the State and Federal Government (Ms Jennifer Howard MP and Hon Scott Buchholz MP), the entire student body and a small group of board members, dignitaries and parents. The school principal Mr Geoff Mills and his wife Angela who had both worked so tirelessly over the previous four years were clearly relieved to see the beautiful new campus and the product of everyone's hard work, come to fruition. The most exciting chapter of the school's already remarkable history had now begun...