KATANDRA WEST SCHOOL No: 4401
The Katandra West School was opened as the Closer Settlement progressed and the surrounding schools became overcrowded. The new school was erected on the site retained for that purpose in the centre of Katandra West. The settlement was a joint effort between the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia to develop Australia and help folk who wished to migrate and settle on the land.
The school was officially opened on 23rd November, 1928 by the then Director of Education Mr. M. P. Hansen but it began operation on 28th October, 1928 with Miss Mary Schepisi as head Teacher and 32 pupils in Grades 1 – 8. The Closer Settlement Commission proposed the opening of the original school which among others would serve the children of English migrant settlers.
In attendance at the Official Opening were the Hon. Col. W.W.J. Bourchier and other invited guests. First families at the school were: McIntosh, Burgmann, Nye, Gibbs, Wyborn, Chaney, Wilkinson, Donohue, Hansen, Price, Wallden, Davy, Lovett, Lemon, Fielding and Dailey. Some of these names have been in school records over many years.
In 1928 before the school opened the School Committee was established and the Members of the Committee were: Mr. William A. Hansen - President, William J. Davy - Correspondent, Michael J. Donohue - Treasurer, Earnest D. Wilkinson, Sarah A. Hansen, Ester M. Wilkinson, and Austin H. Burgmann. The works of these early Committee Members enabled the school to obtain a head teacher’s residence, additional school buildings, road improvements and in later years the school bus service.
In 1937 on 3 acres of land adjoining the school site a plantation of blue gums, mahogany gums and sugar gums was established. The land was owned by the Closer Settlement Commission.
In 1968 when a number of the local one-teacher schools had been closed and their pupils transferred to Katandra West, 2.8 acres of the plantation was cleared to provide much needed playing space for the pupils. Great pride was taken by the Parents in maintaining the school grounds.
The Committee also organised crazy whist and euchre parties, dances, fancy dress balls and concerts by the children in conjunction with the teachers to raise funds for the school.
The Mothers’ Club was formed in 1946; the first Office Bearers were Mrs. Tonks, President, Mrs. H. Burgmann Secretary, and Mrs. Woodcock Treasurer. The ladies introduced American teas, Australian teas, euchre tournaments, trading tables, fetes and may other ideas to help supply equipment for the school which included such items as an electric wireless, electric jug, fan, piano, television and carpets. For many years various members of the Mothers’ Club supplied hot cocoa and milo for school children during the winter months. One of the activities that the children participated in was a cricket competition with the smaller schools culminating in a shield that was presented each year to the winning school. Empire Day was a highlight with singing competitions, winding up with a bonfire and crackers.
Also held regularly were special concerts and break up parties with Santa Claus, Anzac Day Remembrance services, open days during Education Week, School Picnics, school magazines produced by the children and inter-house school sports.
Local people will remember the plantation east of the school which was the result of many meetings between the committee and Mr Bankin (the first overseer of the settlement) who planned the laying out of the school grounds which included a map of Australia between the road and the school. The Bankin Memorial Reserve Gateway was re-erected at its present site after being removed from its original site at the Bankin Plantation Entrance. The gateway is a Memorial to Mr Bankin’s son, a school teacher who died in Central Australia in 1936. The Town water supply was connected to the school in 1945, the electricity in 1947 and the telephone in 1949.
The first head teacher at Katandra West Primary School was Miss Schepisi with 32 pupils in attendance. She was followed by Miss Corboy who later married a Katandra school teacher, Mr McCarthy. Miss Corboy introduced Arbor Day for trees to be planted at the school, this was an annual event for many years. During this time a shelter shed had been built. The first head teacher to reside in the new school residence was Mr James Pask. Prior to this the teachers lived in the Bush Nursing Cottage. Miss Taylor and the Mrs Stokes were relieving head teachers until Miss Hickey was appointed relieving head teacher in 1935.
She resigned from Shepparton State School to be married to Mr Delaney in June 1936. She later rejoined the Department as a temporary head teacher at Invergordon South in 1943 where she taught until the school was amalgamated with Katandra West. She continued teaching until she resigned in 1972. Arch Miller, Alyn Date and Kenneth Parkinson were head teachers whose efforts were endless in helping the school and district. It would be impossible to name the entire list of teachers who have contributed over the years to the development of the Katandra West School.
Much of the work done by them, like that of the late Mr Ron Davis, was done quietly because of their interest in the district and their desire to help the children. While Mr Ron Davis was in charge of the school many changes took place. The smaller surrounding school at Marionvale closed and the children and building moved to Katandra West in July 1953.
Late in 1953 the school building of Gobarup East No: 2589 in Waranga Shire was brought in for the infant grades. In February 1954 the building and children from Invergordon South No 4477 were moved to Katandra West also.
In February 1957 Marungi No: 2236 was closed, followed in May 1965 by the closure of Youanmite South No: 3953. Pupils at both schools were enrolled at Katandra West. In 1964, two new rooms were added making six in all. In 1968 two more new rooms were added and the school had an enrolment of 240 pupils.
One of the school buildings was later transferred to the local sports ground where it was occupied by the Guide and Scout movements, and it became the Cricket Club Rooms, under the leadership of Mr. Alf Miller. The School saw further development with the addition of five new classrooms, a store room and a new shelter shed.
Numbers kept increasing to 240 before decreasing to 204 in 1971. When the Katandra School children transferred to Katandra West in 1972,
Mr Livingston was Headmaster; the Katandra shelter shed was also moved and re-erected at Katandra West.
Under the leadership of Jas Slattery in 1973 a request was made to the Department to have the classrooms improved or replaced. Also gas heaters were installed in the classrooms.
From 1974 through to 1976 Ian Mollison was Head Teacher and he also requested the improvement or replacement of the classrooms. An Adventure playground was built and also basketball courts were installed with the help of working bees.