St Mary’s School was founded in 1926 and staffed by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. The sisters worked, for the first 10 years, in a lean-to beside the Church, the present School/Parish Hall being the original Church building. The sisters withdrew in 1986 leaving the management of the school to the Catholic Education Office.
The first two brick classrooms were opened on the 29th January 1939 by Archbishop Prendiville. Subsequent classrooms were added in 1959 and 1969. In 1970 the current Science/Music Room was built. Sometime after 1970 an Administration Area was added to the existing classrooms. The children’s toilet area was built in 1980. In 1994 a major building program was completed to provide a new administration area, staffroom and three classrooms. In 2011, we added a new library, toilet block and uniform shop.In 2015 we added a new portable classroom to ensure we had enough room to establish a single stream school.
The Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart was founded in 1866 in Penola in South Australia by blessed Mary MacKillop (Mother Mary of the Cross) and Father Julian E. Tenison Woods. The Catholic education of poor children was the Sisters’ prime task as well as undertaking urgently needed works of charity.
When the three Sisters arrived to take up residence in Merredin, the Priest vacated his Presbytery for the Sisters and moved to what today would be regarded as a ‘humpy’ in the school grounds. In 1954 the Sisters moved into the new brick convent, the priest once again took up residence in the original presbytery (currently parish Teacher house next to the school).
School commenced in 1927 with Sr Assumpta as Principal and an enrolment of 50 pupils. The first two brick classrooms were opened on the 29th January, 1939 by Archbishop Prendiville. Classroom three was added in 1959 and classroom four in 1969. In 1970 a tuckshop and storage area was built which went on to become the school library and then the Pre Primary. Since then this room has also been utilised as the Aboriginal Studies building, Italian classroom, an Art Room and the Computer Room. In 2006 it became the Kindy. Now in 2013 is a Science Lab/Music Room. Sometime later the administration area was added to the classrooms. The toilet area was the last addition in 1980.
The stories the Sisters shared of the difficulties they had to overcome as pioneer educators made everyone realise how much things have changed and developed. A common theme among the stories was that the sisters only managed to meet the challenges they faced through the support of the community.
This remains as a strong feature of St Mary’s School today, as parents and the community continue to support the school.
St Mary's School Bell