St Francis Xavier High School was founded in 1976. Our school began at Catholic Girls High School Braddon, now Merici College, as our Florey location wasn’t ready to be occupied. In the first year, there were 74 Year 7 students who made up only two classes. SFX, as we are affectionately known, was the first Catholic High School in Canberra to not be run by a religious teaching order—instead opening with founding principal Mr Jim Smythe.
The school moved to our permanent site in Florey in 1977. Year 7 and Year 8 were joined by students in Years 5 and 6 from what was to become St Monica’s Primary School in Evatt. St Monica’s was still under construction, so we provided temporary accommodation for their students—many who would come to SFX for high school.
In 1977, Mr Peter Moore took over as Principal (1977-1984). He began the difficult task of creating a ‘St Francis Xavier identity’ and commissioned our school’s crest and motto. Francis Xavier was chosen as our patron saint with our school crest and motto incorporating both his name, his Christian commitment and the ideals of truth and courage reflected in his life. The logo identifies the school through the intertwined initials of St Francis Xavier and a cross, the sign of Christ.
Mr Jim Peoples was Principal from 1985 to 1992. With Belconnen flourishing in the early 1980s, the demand for places at the school far exceeded capacity with more than 1000 students at the school in Years 7 to 10. The possibility of extending SFX to Years 11 and 12 was first discussed during this time. There were questions as to whether there would be enough senior enrolments and the proposal was shelved.
However, the issue of enrolment capacity never went away and in 1997, under Principal Mrs Moira Najdecki (1994-2002), a new plan was formulated and presented to the Catholic Education Office. St Francis Xavier College was born.
The imminent increase in numbers fostered a flurry of building activity. A new Maths block was built next to the oval and the old Maths staffroom was converted to a Senior Study/Vocational Education room. The Resource Centre was extended and refurbished. The Industrial Arts area was expanded. A new Senior common room was also added. Our first Year 11 students started in 2001 and our first Year 12 graduation was in December 2002, the same year that SFX held its Silver Jubilee (25th birthday) celebrations.
In 2003, Mr Angus Tulley (2003-2018) was appointed Principal. Over the subsequent years as enrolments increased, we added a Trade Training Centre, a purpose built Middle School Building, refurbished the Religious Education corridors to incorporate breakout areas with an emphasis on IT facilities and then added our Student Services Hub.
Now over 40 years old, 2019 saw the school year commence with Mr Paul Carroll appointed as Principal. Mr Carroll brought the school’s technology capabilities to the forefront, offering students the ability to study and learn effectively from home and to engage with the world around them through video conferencing and virtual reality—a necessity particularly throughout COVID-19.
In 2023, we welcome Ms Sandra Darley as our new Principal. Ms Darley brings with her over 20 years experience within Catholic Education, a deep commitment to fostering a supportive College community environment and promoting excellence in teaching and learning.
As students and teachers learn to be more adaptable than ever before, we continue to be reminded of, and energised by our College philosophy that we are all on a learning journey, striving for truth, courageously doing our best to learn and grow and to work towards a brighter and inclusive future for all.