Belconnen High School is in very good shape for a 50-year-old.
The school has undergone a transformation in recent years, with the traditional 1970s classrooms now converted into open, flexible work spaces complete with 3D printers and virtual reality headsets.
Current principal Rebecca Pearce said the change from mid-century teaching to modern learning was evident in the new school layout.
"The old corridors that were narrow and dark are gone, we don't have any of that anymore," she said.
"I think the visible and flexible learning design in the school is very different to the traditional spaces that were here.
"You can't move throughout this building without seeing that and feeling that change."
From an AC/DC concert in the school hall in 1975 to Sting's helicopter landing in a field next to the playground, Belconnen High School has had a very colourful past.
But the school nearly didn't make it past its 20th birthday, as the school was slated to close in the 1990s.
The principal at the time, Lance Chapman, was given the difficult task of boosting enrolments amid the ageing population. He hosted a series of community consultation sessions with parents to find out what they wanted from the school. Slowly out-of-area enrolments trickled in, increasing the school population to about 780.
Dennis Flannery had a stint as principal from 1998 to 2005. His son, daughter and wife had attended Belconnen High School so it was an excellent fit.
As it was his first time being principal of a high school, the step-up in responsibility was huge but exciting.
"I loved it, but when I left I was on to blood pressure tablets ... it's a pretty stressful existence," he said.
Mr Flannery said the recent building work was a "gobsmacking transformation".
"Schools' reputations go up and down a bit. It's on the crest of a wave and part of it is the facilities here."
Mr Flannery has been connecting with former students who have gone on to interesting careers, including actor Rhys Muldoon, champion hammer thrower Stuart Rendell, biochemist Professor Harvey Millar and journalist Karen Middleton.
Tony Agostino's passion for science was ignited during his time as a student at Belconnen High School from 1973 to 1975. He had migrated from a small village in Italy to Australia in 1967 with limited English language skills.
"Science has a universal language, so I was able to negotiate that much more easily," Mr Agostino said.
"I had a great science teacher and there was a lab assistant who also took me under her wing and she suggested that I apply for what's called the CSIRO science and industry endowments award."
Mr Agostino was successful and begun a study on vitamin E complexes in eucalyptus leaves.
"[The principal] actually gave me a prep room, my own lab... I was surrounded by all these chemicals and so forth which today of course with health and safety does not happen."
Mr Agostino went on to work for CSIRO where he remains an honorary fellow.
Mrs Pearce said students would be connecting with alumni as part of the 50th anniversary.
"I think there's really good learning opportunities for students to engage in the life stories of those people and to do the ... oral histories around that, I think that's going to be really powerful."
- Former staff and students of Belconnen High School can email Dennis Flannery at email@example.com to get on the mailing list to hear about 50th anniversary events.
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