140 years of learning

140 years of learning

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140 years of learning
Kelmscott Primary held a day of celebrations to mark its 140th year in the community. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

In 1882, Wild West outlaw Jesse James was killed by Robert Ford, PT Barnum bought his famous elephant Jumbo, Australia beat England in the match that birthed The Ashes, and, for the first time, a little primary school in Kelmscott opened its doors.

This week, it welcomed former students, parents, community members and State politicians to celebrate its 140th anniversary, as one of the oldest schools in WA.

By the time Australia federated in 1901, Kelmscott Primary School had been educating local kids for nearly 20 years – it is remarkable to think that, if it were to open for the first time this year, the 140th celebrations would be held in the year 2162.

Principal Jason Bushe-Jones said that, in his time at the school, the excitement in the lead up to the anniversary celebrations has been palpable.

“It has definitely been on my mind – the community is very engaged with history of the school,” he said.

“Over the last two years there has been substantial build up because it is unique, it’s quite special for a school to be this old in the Perth Metropolitan Area, I find it incredibly humbling.

“In my office I have a photo of the principal from 1892 – there’s history everywhere throughout the school, it’s almost like a museum when you walk through it sometimes.”

Welcoming former students and community members, as well as Education Minister Sue Ellery and Member for Armadale Dr Tony Buti, the day’s celebrations kicked off on Wednesday with an assembly followed by a full schedule of festivities.

“The turnout was great and the community members and dignitaries made it even more special,” Mr Bushe-Jones said.

“The celebrations have been ongoing throughout the year in the school – we’ve had the Pioneer Picnic, a horse & cart stem project, time capsules – it’s been a build-up that all students and the community have been involved in.

“The school’s age surpasses the age of our federation – to think there was no electricity, no modern tools – a lot of ex-students talked about the way the school has transformed.

“One of the people I spoke to attended the school in 1948 and said they had to collect wood to warm the classrooms every morning.

“And while we’re respecting the history, we are also looking forward – we want to be innovative.

“We celebrate the past but look to the future.”