EMULATING metropolitan Australia, Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke says his school’s huge multicultural population has enriched the institution’s students and their families.
“It enriches our school totally,” he said.
“It means now, this is really Australia, it means the kids at our school aren’t quarantined from what the kids in the city are used to,”
“We have a big city feel at our school.”
In 2014, Catherine McAuley has 40 enrolled students born overseas, from 12 different countries.
There are 65 students who head home every afternoon to a household where English is the family’s second language.
According to Mr Croke, those numbers represent a large percentage of the Catherine McAuley community.
“It’s a huge percentage, for a country school that’s been primarily anglo-saxon, it’s a big percentage,” he said, with 530 students enrolled in 2014.
“You probably wouldn’t see it in Dubbo or Bathurst.”
Mr Croke said the diversity enjoyed at the school had a lot to do with council’s sponsoring of Sudanese families and the availability of employment at the Orange Health Service.
Being a Catholic school, religion has played its part too.
“Most of them have Catholic backgrounds and want a catholic education for their children,” Mr Croke added.
He said at any given time on a school day, children in different classrooms can sit on tables with other children who have origins in China, Sudan or India, while others play alongside kids who have come from Peru, Kuwait or Egypt.
The school also has families from Zimbabwe, Scotland, New Zealand, England and the Philippines.
Catherine McAuley support teacher Ann Kelly said there were some challenges associated with migrant families, but in all the school was an exciting place to be part of.
“The kids are very accepting of each other and they’re learning from each other all of the time. They’re getting a different perspective of the world that perhaps those a generation ago didn’t,” Mrs Kelly said.