It has been an outstanding start to the year at WA College of Agriculture - Cunderdin with record enrolments, upgrade of facilities nearing completion and recognition of excellence in its education programs.

The College opened with a capacity enrolment of 124 including a record 69 year 11 students. A majority are from the surrounding agricultural areas with some from as far away as Esperance, Gibson, Scadden and Leonora.

Principal, Bernard Beatty, said a number of factors had contributed to the big demand for places at the College. A positive mood and employment opportunities in agriculture and a fall in demand for labour in mining were among them. Incoming students from York and surrounding districts included Harley Allen, Brody Bauer, Emma Fewster, Joel Olsson and Jemma Read (York), Louis Adams, Taylla Allison, Jackson Evans (Cunderdin), Catherine Masters (Bruce Rock), Ryan West (Meckering) and Jesse White (Quairading), he said.

"Our reputation for excellence across the curriculum, the practical, hands on approach to learning and the outstanding individual achievements of our students are being recognized state wide. "Last year we were finalists in the WA Secondary School of the Year award alongside three large well known metropolitan schools, Perth Modern School, Churchlands Senior High and Shenton College which was the winner," Mr Beatty said.

"Three students received awards from the School Curriculum and Standards Authority for achievements in the WA Certificate of Education. "One received an award of excellence in VET and a certificate of commendation,  The other two received certificates of commendation. In addition, the year 12 students qualified for a total of 242 trade certificates from Certificate l through to Certificate lll.  "One graduated with eight certificates. "Several enrolled in the new bachelor of agricultural business management at Muresk," he said.

"It has been a smooth start to the year. "Extensions to the trade training centre and a new farm workshop are nearing completion with work underway on improvements to the piggery. "These will complement improvements to other facilities including new dormitories, air conditioning of existing ones and completion of a new shearing shed in recent years," Mr Beatty said.

"The shearing has started for the year 12's and all year 11's will also shear some sheep. "In Design and Technology, the year 12's have started their major projects and the year 11's have had safety induction and started smaller projects. "The sports program has started with the College winning its first two games of cricket and four teams playing in the Mursell Shield tennis competition," he said.

"We welcomed several new staff including English teacher, Kristy Hackford, from Kalgoorlie and Automotives teacher, Alan Sutton from Westrac and a new technical officer in cropping,  Simon Longmire, from Esperance," Mr Beatty said.

Lindsay McNeill

ABOVE: Working on new facilities at the college piggery (L-R) Christopher Hendricks (Merredin), Rod Nicholls (Perth), Vaughan Harris (Leonora), Mark Love (Northam), Jack Penny (York) and piggery manager, Diff Reynders.