Lakeside link helps drag Christian college down

ANOTHER Tweed Christian school is closing its doors. On the first day of what would have been the third term for students after the winter break, the Murwillumbah Christian College at Dungay, just outside the town, yesterday announced it was shutting down.

Students and families were forewarned, and yesterday began making inquiries to enrol at other nearby schools.

This year marked the 21st anniversary of the school, understood to have about 100 students from Kindergarten to Year 10.

It had operated for 14 years on its current picturesque 4.5-hectare rural site.

The closure follows troubles at Tweed Heads Lakeside Christian College which was bailed out by a private Sydney-based Christian school earlier this year. The Murwillumbah Christian College was affiliated with the Lakeside Christian Centre.

"That's been part of our downfall," said principal Herman Bakker yesterday.

In a prepared statement later, Mr Bakker said the college held a farewell for students and families on Sunday "because finances could not guarantee its continued service in the community".

"Last Sunday a farewell gathering of school families, past students and their families and staff was held at the school," Mr Bakker said.

"During this event fond memories and other joys were shared. It was a disappointing end to an era of Christian education in Murwillumbah.

"However there is still hope that the college may be re-established in the future under the covering of a larger Christian organisation."

One parent making inquiries about booking her child into the school next year said secondary students were being directed to Wollumbin High School.

Wollumbin High principal Karen Connell said she was unable to take about half-a-dozen inquiries from parents because she had been taking part in a pupil-free staff development day, but the applications would be dealt with quickly this week.

"We will have to deal with them as quickly as we can, and look at supporting the students in their learning," Ms Connell said.

"They have also got Murwillumbah High School there as well."

Murwillumbah Christian College was established by the Murwillumbah Baptist Church in 1985 at its Eveleigh Street church building and relocated to its present site on Tomewin Road in 1993. High School classes began in 1999 with Year 7 students. It was planned to introduce Years 11 and 12 in the future.

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