School celebrates 60 years of learning

October 23, 2021 BY

When I’m 60: OLHC’s grade one-twos created artworks looking 60 years into the future, to mark their school’s big birthday. Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

WENDOUREE’S Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School marked their sixtieth anniversary last Friday.

Opening on 15 October, 1961 with two rooms on site, the school has grown, now with 125 students and 24 staff, and multiple buildings in 2021.

Principal Leigh Bradshaw said many of OLHC’s children are the third generation to learn and play there, all having fond memories of similar spaces and people.

“Families who’ve been here for a long time talk about our 100-metre corridor, and the different races that have happened down there,” she laughed.

“When former students return as parents, they walk in and have flashbacks. There’s lots of memories of sport days, community events, trivia nights, and one particular teacher, Paddy Ryan.

“He was here in the eighties… then returned in the 90s, and is still here now. He hasn’t changed, and has been a constant, caring, supportive part of the school for families.”

OLHC has produced a series of videos marking each decade of the school’s history, shared via their Facebook and Instagram pages.

“All of our celebrations have moved online, sharing most of the memories we would have presented, had we been able to invite everybody back for open days,” Mrs Bradshaw said.

“The amount of memorabilia that is coming back into school is incredible, and the memories that families are sharing with us has blown us away.

“The personal stories include those of families where three generations have attended our school, and those of one of the founding teachers Sister Josepha, now Sister Angela, who sent in her memories of teaching Mick Malthouse when he was here.”

Another high-profile student who attended OLHC is Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne.

Mrs Bradshaw is “honoured” to be leader and custodian of OLHC, providing an “umbrella of care,” and a safe principal’s office that isn’t a “scary place” to visit. It’s a space where children can feel comfortable and welcome to share their learning milestones.

But she also acknowledged that Catholic primary school for many young people in Ballarat has not always been “a happy place.”

“We want to celebrate the past, but people will see things that I have shared, and that will trigger a gut reaction in them.

“It’s really important for everyone to understand we honour the past, which is not all happy and joyful, but that every part of our history is our history,” she said.

“As a school and diocese, we learn from that, and the way we work now is so child-centred and child-friendly. We welcome people to come back and visit; our learning here is outstanding, and our staff work to personalise learning for every child.”

Videos and more memories are viewable to the public at facebook.com/olhcwendoureevictoria and instagram.com/ourladyhelpofchristianswend.

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