Mary’s Mount Primary School going strong at 100 years

27 Aug 2021

By Amanda Murthy

Students holding their house flags.
The 100th year anniversary celebrations for Mary’s Mount Primary School which fell on 2 February was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the school community were able to gather safely and celebrate Mass on the feast of the school’s patron, St Emilie on Thursday, 17 June at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Max Hoh.

The milestone celebrations for the Mary’s Mount Primary School (MMPS) were underway as soon as it was safe to do so. Gathering the entire school community at Saint Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate a Mass on Thursday, 17 June, to pay tribute to their rich history, traditions, achievements, and Catholic Education, which evidently, continues to flourish.

The Mass took place on yet another significant day, the feast of the school’s patron, St Emilie on Thursday, 17 June, and was celebrated by Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, alongside concelebrants Father Antony Suresh, Fr Greg Donovan and Fr William Ousley OMI.

The school officially turned 100 on 2 February, and it was originally opened in 1921 as a boy’s college by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition.

Mother Emily was the first Superior with Sisters Patrick and Carmel to help her. Today it is difficult to picture Mary’s Mount humble beginnings of three Sisters, five boarders and 12 day pupils.

In 1946, the Sisters and boys built a grotto to honour Our Lady and often held Masses there. In the early 1950s’ a new brick school was completed and was blessed by then Bishop Goody.

1969 was the final year MMPS catered for boarders and the school became co-educational. Ten years later, student numbers were at 460, with two classes in each year from Years one to seven, and a new chapel was built.

In 1987, the original two-storey building from 1926 was demolished and a new school building with six classrooms, a toilet block, staff administration areas and a library was built.

In its’ 75th year, in 1996, a plaque for the ‘big bell Joseph’ was installed. This is the bell each graduating student rings on their last day at the school.

Other developments included a Nature Playground (2017), a government funded school hall dubbed St Joseph’s (2010), and the Giovinazzo Learning Centre (2018).

Mary’s Mount Primary School Principal Emma Bell, who commenced her role in January 2021, tributed the school’s founder St Emilie de Vialar, and reflected on her journey with gratitude.

“I feel blessed to have joined the MMPS community in such a significant year for the school,” Principal Bell said.

“In the short time I have been here, I have met families with whose own histories are woven into the fabric of the school. I have loved hearing the stories of generations of family members connected with MMPS. The students, families and staff have certainly made this a welcoming and vibrant school environment.

“2021 is a year when students are encouraged to create their own history and memories of MMPS, while taking inspiration from the sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition and their faithfulness to the charism of their founder St Emilie de Vialar,” she added.

Ms Bell who encouraged many events, initiatives, and activities throughout the year to honour the many achievements of the school said that she was grateful to be able to witness a “strong sense of community that was apparent and with a heart full of love, joy and pride of all involved.”

“A gala dinner involving 300 parents, past staff and students held on 22 May, provided the perfect opportunity for past staff and students to reconnect and friendships to be rekindled.”

Besides the formal gala dinner, the school hosted a welcome Mass at the start of the year and a birthday cake cutting ceremony. Some newer events include historical school tours, the construction of a Sacred Space to commemorate the century of the school to honour tradition, to an opportunity for students and staff, past and present, to ‘own a piece of the school they love’ – by obtaining their very own personalised anniversary bricks.