School celebrates 150 years

THE 150th anniversary of the Bombala Public School proved a powerful celebration of community spirit and identity last week, as hundreds of people came together to mark the milestone.

The formal launch of the sesquicentenary events took place on Friday at the BPS itself, where a large crowd gathered for a series of performances and presentations.

Among the special guests speaking on the day were Public Schools Director, Marian Grant, Bombala Mayor and former student, Bob Stewart, P&C President, Cheryl Cotterill and BPS Principal, Adam Zanco.

Along with some wonderful recollections of school life from past student and current staff member, Margot Ingram, there was also a commemorative cake cut by the oldest former student, 94 year old Marjorie Taylor (nee Dent) and youngest student, Ariella Moro.

The remainder of the day was given over to student activities, with all immersing themselves in the memorabilia room, old style games and square dancing.

Meanwhile many of the school’s guests stayed on to reminisce on their years with the BPS, delightedly catching up as they reflected on what the BPS had meant to them and the district as a whole.

“The whole philosophy behind the day was celebrating the community support that the school receives, and has received for so many long years, and I think we really achieved that,” Principal, Adam Zanco said.

“It is important to realise that the school has always been a public school, and in order to establish it 150 years ago, the community had to raise half of the money to pass onto the government. The figure raised was £300, an immense amount of money, and that’s the level of support that we’re talking about.

“Even our P&C is over 100 years old, being an officially formed parents group in 1910; that’s incredible in itself. And the sense of community that all of this shows was well clearly felt throughout our celebrations.”

These continued into the next day of course, with Saturday welcoming an even larger crowd to the school as a colonial theme was embraced, and a series of old fashioned family activities were enjoyed.

This included everything from displays of old engines and cars to demonstrations of spinning and weaving, old fashioned games and of course perusing the memorabilia on show.

The tours of the old school site were an important highlight and proved immensely popular, with tales of old school days being happily shared as all enjoyed the chance to return to the beautiful old school.

Back at the current site, hand shearing displays, face painting, open classrooms and especially the lengthened opportunity to reflect and reminisce with old friends all ensured a memorable time was shared.

The formal component of the day saw the current BPS staff placing the capstone on the time capsule prepared for the occasion, with this set to be re-opened in 50 years’ time.

The monument itself was very generously donated by Kathryn and Allen of Allen’s Funerals, and will be affixed with plaques representing various groups, businesses and individuals from throughout the district.

And how do you cap off such a whirlwind of special anniversary events? With a Dinner Dance of course!

A crowd of over 200 gathered in the high school hall that night for a high spirited evening of further celebration, with students from the BHS, many who attended the BPS themselves, catering a tremendous meal to raise funds towards their coming Pompeii excursion.

With the severe hail storm of Saturday evening certainly adding its own drama to proceedings, Frock n Troll then had the hall up on its feet gleefully joining together for a night of bush dancing and socialising.

And this concluded what was a magic two days of celebrations, with the feedback for the Bombala Public School’s Sesquicentenary being overwhelmingly positive.

Naturally a huge host of people and groups were involved in the success of the celebrations, and it is impossible to thank them all here individually, although they all certainly deserve recognition.

Special mention must go to Anne Roberts and John Pereira for preparing a historical account for the occasion, Cheryl Cotterill and the P&C, the Bombala High School for its involvement, the various organising committees and the many unsung heroes who assisted in countless ways to ensure the celebrations ran smoothly.

The 150th anniversary of Bombala Public School was not only a wonderful opportunity to reflect on its history and reminisce over our own school days with old friends, but also to acknowledge what the school has meant, and still means to the community which supports it so fervently.

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