2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the commencement of what officially became known as the “High School Hostel” on the Avondale College campus at Cooranbong, New South Wales.4
It was to become a home for many high school age students whose parents were serving the Church as missionaries throughout the Pacific region at that time and was to have a relatively short history.
While this project was to enable these families to extend their period of service in the island field, it also required of them a great deal of sacrifice financially and emotionally as many of these students were as young as 11 or 12 years of age.9
This new venture, while catering for missionary children as its first priority, also became a home for other students whose parents, because of distance from a church school, wished their children to have an Adventist education.3
Also included were some from Adventist families whose parents were working for the Papua New Guinea government throughout the 1960s plus a small group of international students from Asia.
Approval was given on March 5, 19591 to commence the building, which was designed to house the preceptor’s family and comfortably cater for a maximum of 20 boys and 20 girls.9
The lowest tender for the building was finally accepted at a cost of 33,495 pounds in November 19592 with most of the bedroom fixtures and furnishings to be supplied by the College Wood Products operating on the campus at that time.5
The hostel was to be located adjacent to the existing high school on the college campus with the aim of having it completed for the 1961 school year.
Dulcie Miller, who was returning with her family from mission service in the Cook Islands, was originally appointed as preceptress while her husband was to be given limited responsibilities because of his health issues.2 However, this decision was later reversed giving Pastor Joseph (Joe) Miller the responsibility of becoming the preceptor aided and supported by his wife.3
Apart from the normal school fees the annual boarding charge for the hostel in 1961 was to be set at 196 pounds, nine shillings and eight pence.6
For the next seven years the hostel was to primarily cater for those students studying at the junior level as the high school only provided for those years.
After finishing junior high school, the students from the hostel were to live in the college dormitories to complete their senior certificate with other mature age students. At that time, a senior high school program was provided by the college as a pathway that led to further studies at the tertiary level.
With the development of Lilydale Academy as a boarding institution the need for a hostel for missionary children declined and it was voted by the college board that “. . . the High School Hostel cease its operations at the conclusion of the 1967 school year”. 7
It was also voted that the High School Hostel then be converted to a college business department.8 A seven-year experiment was finally to come to a close.
The impact of those years on the young people was to be somewhat mixed as some resented the fact that they had been sent there while others were to develop life-long friendships and special bonds with each other.
These special bonds are now seen in the regular reunions that take place for those who are still able to attend while providing an opportunity and a place where they are able to relive their memories of the times they spent together and of their various life journeys since that time.
God has blessed in many different ways and this is acknowledged by those who look back on the unique and special time they shared together on the Avondale College campus.
Board Minutes of Australasian Missionary College to become Avondale College
- March 5, 1959: 4
- November 19, 1959: 20,21
- November 27, 1959: 25
- February 23, 1960: 5
- May 25, 1960: 15
- December 1, 1960: 27
- October 3, 1967: 38
- November 2, 1967: 44
- Cox, J. 1959 ‘Avondale Alive’, The Australasian Record, July 6, Warburton: Signs Publishing Co.