The commencement of the 2021 school year began with fanfare in Armidale on Friday with the official opening of the state-of-the-art $121 million Armidale Secondary College.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell joined MP Adam Marshall to open the new school, and take a tour with the school leadership group and school principal Carolyn Lasker.
"There's a lot to celebrate today, and you just have to look at the smiles on the kids' faces on their first day of school," said Mr Barilaro.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the Armidale Secondary College (ASC) development had seen the largest investment in regional education in the State's history, delivering 104 classrooms, including specialised spaces for science, industrial arts and hospitality, performing arts spaces and sports facilities and new agricultural hub.
When asked if the new school rivalled secondary educational facilities in Sydney, including those of private school, Ms Mitchell said it was up there with the best in the world.
"As education minister, I visit a lot of schools, and I would put this up there, not just as one of the best schools in NSW, but in the world - it is phenomenal," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said ASC would provide first-class public education to 1,500 students, exposing them to the highest quality digital teaching resources and modern teaching practices.
"A fantastic education provides you the opportunity to be your best and aspire to every goal," the Premier said.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank Minister Mitchell for making this happen, and I want to thank every single man and woman who worked on this site and to the teachers who came together under the leadership of Principal Lasker.
Ms Berejiklian said the regions are getting a boost unlike anything seen before in NSW when it comes to education.
"It is really encouraging to see what the future looks like," she said.
"With this precinct, and the university and the other infrastructure going into this community, the future augurs well for Armidale and I am sure many students will spend their entire lives here rather than looking elsewhere because the best available to them is in their own city.
"The best secondary education, the best tertiary education, and the best job opportunities right here at home.
"And that's what we want to see, and that's how the regions will continue to grow.
"My last words go to the year 12 students standing here with me - make the best of your year, I know the Year 7's are looking up to you, and I'm incredibly proud to be standing here on your new campus and wish you all the best for your future."