By Caroline Smith
Members of the Merredin Catholic community came together in their hundreds to celebrate the 90th anniversary of St Mary’s School earlier this year.
The celebration, which included a school fair and a reunion dinner was held on Saturday 14 October, and brought together numerous former and current students, teachers, parents and people connected to the Merredin Parish, St Mary’s Church.
Founded in 1926 by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who ran it until 1986, the school was then transferred to the administration of Catholic Education Office (now Catholic Education Western Australia).
Its first brick classrooms were built in 1939, with new ones added 20 and then 30 years later, which were followed by a significant building program in 1994, adding three new classrooms, a staffroom and new administration area.
Additional buildings including a library and portable classroom have also been added in recent years.
Principal Ray Rose said the anniversary had attracted many people to the school to commemorate its history and community.
“There were 150 people in attendance at the reunion dinner, and as for the school fair during the day, we had hundreds of people come through,” he said.
“It was a wonderful celebration of the school’s 90 years. We invited the whole community to help us celebrate.”
One key event during the day was the blessing of several artworks by Parish Priest Father Andrew Bowron, which included a statue of Mary and baby Jesus and a mosaic cross made by school students.
“Fr Bowron blessed the new statue, which is on display in the school grounds,” Mr Rose explained.
“It was designed by an interstate company called Danthonia Designs.
“Students created a mosaic cross which was also blessed, and the parents and friends association (P&F) organised brick pavers, which people could purchase and have their family name placed on it.
“These were then placed at the entrance of the school.”
Members of the school community were also welcomed to a reunion dinner, where a number of speakers talked about its history and development over time, Mr Rose added.
“We had several guest speakers at the dinner, including former principal Des Wilkie, Josephite Sister Leonie Mayne, and Mrs Carmel Caridi, who has a longstanding connection to the school,” he said.“We then had a Q & A panel to conclude the night, consisting of Lynton Hayes – a former student who went on to work at Harvard Business School, Sr Margaret Culhane and Dot Caughey, who has been a long-time parent and teacher at the school.”
Mr Rose thanked all the people who had helped to organise the anniversary events, which had been planned throughout most of the school year.
“We had an organising committee set up to plan the evening dinner, and the P&F was in charge of organising the school fair,” he said.
“One of the key people involved in this part of the day was Narelle Millington, who brought the school fair aspect together.”