November 2, 2018
The Downlands College community and guests recognised the dedication and outstanding stewardship of Downlands Principal, Mr Stephen McIllhatton, who is retiring at the end of 2018, during a Farewell Liturgy at the College.
Before taking up the position of Principal at Downlands College, Stephen spent three months undergoing formation in the charism and ethos of the particular Heart Spirituality that imbues and permeates all that occurs in a Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) school.
This formation period left an indelible mark on Stephen’s philosophy on life, “I felt embraced by their humour and hospitality, and deeply touched by the spiritual guidance of the MSC, especially their view on life and living. My challenge now is to impart this to every Downlands student.”
Commencing at Downlands in August 2011, Stephen was welcomed by a student population (and community) which he described as the friendliest he had ever known. From the outset, Stephen predicted a strong future for the College and he has overseen a period of transformation including the introduction of Year 7 in 2015, and subsequent introduction of Years 5 and 6 in 2017. With Year 4 set to commence at the College in 2019, Stephen has overseen the refurbishment of Mooney Wing into an impressive modern space for Years 4-6 students.
“There is no doubt the Junior School at Downlands is flourishing! I am sure that when the Years 4-6 facility is available for inspection by our community, it will become the ‘talk of the town’. It is a spacious, light-filled and colourful addition to our College which is going to impress all with its educational design and innovation,”
Being Principal at Downlands has been the highpoint of Stephen’s career and he is proud of his legacy. During his Farewell Liturgy, Stephen commented, "That he hopes he has been able to leave Downlands a better place for having been here.”
Heartfelt messages from students, staff and families, thanking Stephen for “guiding Downlands with grace and compassion” and “creating a school environment where everyone is encouraged to be themselves”, attest to the fact that he has achieved all this and more.