Beaconhills College had its conception in 1980 when a group of parishioners at St. John’s Anglican Church at Upper Beaconsfield, led by John McConchie and strongly supported by the parish vicar Rev. Roger Rich, had a vision for an independent Christian school in the local area.
An initial meeting at the St. John’s Church on 28 August 1980 was the first of several which indicated considerable local interest in such a school. John McConchie was appointed as the Chairman of a Steering Committee which subsequently called a public meeting at the Pakenham Hall on 11 March, 1981, which was attended by some 250 people. This meeting ratified the proposal that an ecumenical, co-educational, low-fee secondary school, along the lines of the Christian Community Colleges already established at Maryborough, Portland, Newhaven and Woodend, be established locally. In fact, Beaconhills College was the first Christian Community College to begin ‘from scratch’ as the previously mentioned colleges all began in existing independent schools with developed facilities.
This Steering Committee, ably led by John McConchie and Rev. Roger Rich with helpful input and support from Father John Leaver, ‘father’ of the ecumenical school movement, called numerous local public meetings throughout the region over the year to advertise and seek further support for the new school. At this time, Archbishop Frank Woods (Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne 1957 to 1977), by this time a local parishioner at St. John’s, agreed to be the College Patron. During 1981, as well, the 13 acre site on Toomuc Valley Rd. was purchased, portable buildings were obtained from St. Catherine’s College in Toorak and Mr. Frank Millett was appointed as the founding principal.
After a year of hectic preparations and committed effort by the Steering Committee and their supporters, involving weekly meetings and more for the members of the committee which included Carole and Neville Clark, the new school, Beaconhills Christian College, opened on 3 February 1982 with 5 staff and 34 students, 28 being in Form 1 and 6 in Forms 2 and 3.
The school was, from its inception, a truly ecumenical, non-denominational one, with three participating churches – St. John’s Anglican Church, Upper Beaconsfield; St. James’ Anglican Church, Pakenham; and Pakenham Uniting Church – and with each church appointing two members to the College’s governing board of twelve.
The College’s foundation staff consisted of Frank Millett (Principal), Joy Millett, Dot Wiltshire, Debbie Mason and David Curtis.
On 28 March 1982 the College’s Dedication Service was held at St. James’ Anglican Church, Pakenham, which was at the time still located in Main St. Pakenham. Appropriately, the first Dedication Service address was given by Father John Leaver.
The seven years of Mr Millett’s leadership of the College were characterised by a great deal of enthusiasm, resourcefulness and commitment on the part of the principal and his staff, the parents, the students and the Board, led by John McConchie until 1986, as the school grew as a close-knit community, despite limited resources. During some of the early difficult times, Major Edward Tregoning, a parishioner at St. Johns, proved to be a generous benefactor on each occasion. By the end of 1988, the student numbers had steadily grown from 34 with a teaching staff of 5 in 1982 to 388 from Years 7-12 with a teaching staff of 30.
Since Frank Millett left Beaconhills at the end of 1988 to work at Kormilda College in Darwin, the College has had one interim Headmaster, Mr Nigel Creese (Term 1, 1989), and two further long-term Headmasters, Mr Rick Tudor (1989-1997) and Mr Tony Sheumack (1997-) , thus ensuring ongoing growth and stability for the College.
Today Beaconhills College provides quality education to over 3000 students across three state-of-the-art campuses.
In 2007 a book telling the story of the College history was launched. ‘Let Your Light So Shine’ is a 225 page summary of the major eras in the College’s history over the first 25 years. The book is available from the College for $25.