MEMORIES and milestones will come together during the Eurongilly Public School Centenary event on Saturday.
The Riverina rural township will celebrate the years 1918 to 2018 with current and previous students and members of the school community.
Eurongilly is known for its farming success and it is also situated in close proximity to Junee, Wantabadgery and Nangus.
Formalities start at 2pm with the official opening followed by cake cutting, afternoon tea, an informative and entertaining trip down memory lane and displays of old uniforms from throughout the years.
Memorable images such as the ones depicted in the gallery here will be shared too. It is a chance to remember how the school was and also acknowledge the pupils who have attended in more recent times. Also a time capsule was buried in 1978 by Anthony Clarke and Lynette Makeham for 2018.
From 6.30pm the crowds can be entertained by well known band The Tin Shed Rattlers, with catering from Golden Roast.
AN EXCERPT OF THE SCHOOL’S HISTORY:
The very first record of a school at Eurongilly was in 1870, and where the school was or its fate, is unknown, but a school at Clarendon( once again site not recorded) opened in 1875, serving approximately the same area and families. This school had its ups and downs, functioning as a half-time’ school at intervals, together with schools at Wantabadgery and at Cooba. It closed in 1902 or 1903. Date of origin of the school at Cooba is not recorded, but it functioned as a public school to the close of 1918 and was used after that as a subsidised school, supervised by Miss Myrtle Lindbeck, now Mrs Pigram of Junee.
The school at Mitta opened in 1890 and was closed in 1915 on a site close by the Mitta church. The parents and citizens of Eurongilly desirous of establishing a school there, sought and gained the permission of the Education Department, to transport the building to its present site.
G.H. Mutch and Co. of Junee dismantled the building in sections and re-erected it at a cost of £55, which debt was met equally by the individual parents, who were – Tom Whitaker, Joe Whitaker, Ern Freeman, Edward Cowled, Arthur Bennet, William Offer, Mrs Gillies, William Herbert, Tony Sheridan, Tom .J. Brabin, Sid Cooper and Edgar Lyons.
Legal rental of the site on the corner of Mr Cooper’s property was negotiated for ‘one peppercorn per annum’ with the Department of Education. The school opened on 26th March 1918 with the teacher Mr A.C. Southwell, (commonly known as Southy), a young single man, well respected and a strict disciplinarian who died only within the last two years.
Within the first few weeks eighteen pupils were enrolled- May and Wallace Boyton, William and May Sheridan, Eileen, Vera, Harold and Reg Gillies, Joe, John and Kathleen Whitaker, Ted, Bill and Ron Bennett, Stella and Jim Cooper and Les and Thelma Cowled.
After the first school holidays Jim Brabin, Les Cooper and Enid and Paddy Hulm started bringing the total to twenty-two and by the close of 1920 the enrolment had reached forty. This has remained the permanent site for primary education in Eurongilly up to the present day.
Development of the School since 1920
Eurongilly remained as a one-room and one-teacher school throughout the twenties but, at the end of 1933 with the enrolment less than 10, it closed and did not re-open until June 1938 when a former pupil Mr Bill Bennet was the teacher. During the intervening years the school used to teach a few district children and Miss Patricia Herbert was engaged to teach, and paid by the parents involved.
The dividing of ‘Merrbindinyah’ and ‘Wantabadgery’ stations for Soldier Settlement after World War ll and the organisation of a small bus driven by Mr Charlie Cowled (1942) to transport the children to school, together with the post-war ‘baby boom’ increased enrolments miraculously and in 1955 a new building was erected by the Deparment alongside the old one and a second teacher appointed. The P and C built a tennis court in 1959 and the Department built the residence at the school in 1962. Wes and Heather Nowland were the first to occupy this and it was during Mr Nowland’s time as Headmaster that the simple but effective landscaping of the grounds was designed by Harold Bloom and carried out by the P and C in 1966.
In 1968, the original old school building was demolished and a new modern, well equipped building replaced it. At the same time the two old ‘pit’ toilets disappeared and a solid brick toilet block was built.
A lock-up toolshed for the school was erected by the P and C in 1976 and the Department of Education reimbursed for this.
The last remaining original structure from the early years was the weather shed which was built in and transformed to an attractive and well stocked library. The Heather Nowland Memorial Library. A new weather was built in 1979, (with storeroom for sporting equipment attached).
In 1978 during Education Week a function was help at the school and a time capsule buried, to be exhumed in 2018 when the school will celebrate its centenary.
Conditions at Eurongilly school , as at all others, have improved greatly with the passage of time. Children walked, rode horses or went in sulkies in 1918. All travel on buses today. Seating is very different now from the old backless forms and long desks. Insulation, improved heating and cooling, and refrigeration for food and drinks make for more comfort. Far greater time, attention and interest is taken in pursuit of all sporting and cultural activities, but perhaps the greatest change has been the way in which parents have become much more interested and involved and have a far greater influence on their children’s education. This is particularly evident in a small district school like Eurongilly where each child is treated as an individual, a very high percentage of parents belong to the P and C and children, parents and teachers are friend and neighbours.
With help from Jim Copper