From a small catholic school started in the parish pub by a group of nuns, to the sprawling primary school it is today, Deloraine’s Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School has had a colourful 125 years.
School principal Mary Wall is also a former student. She returned to the school initially as acting principal, before applying for the permanent position.
“It’s actually really nice coming back into the community where I know the families and the history of the families, it brings a real sense of community to the school which is fabulous,” Mrs Wall said.
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As part of the school’s anniversary celebrations, a selection of former students were invited to meet with the current cohort and staff, to see how the school has changed.
“It’s critical to celebrate history. History tells us where we’ve been and potentially where we’re going,” Mrs Wall said.
Our Lady of Mercy was started by the Sisters of Mercy in 1895 at what was then the parish pub down the street. Classes were run at the bar and in the parlour, and the Sisters also lived on the property.
Mrs Wall said one of the more notable stories from the school’s history occurred during the 1930’s, when one of the Sisters scolded a student for fiddling with an object during class.
“He was sent to the back of the room, and then moments later there was a loud explosion,” Mrs Wall said.
“Turns out, he’d been fiddling with a detonator and it blew off part of five of his fingers!”
The school choir performed on the national stage in 1951, after winning a statewide competition. They then represented the state at the national Jubilee Choir Contest.
“The choir from little old Deloraine won. To come from a small town and compete with the best nationally, and win, it was incredibly significant.
Former student Sue Bowen was one of the people back fondly reflecting on her experience at the school.
“The Sisters of Mercy were teachers… it was a different experience,” Mrs Bowen said.
Mrs Bowen started at Our Lady of Mercy for her education, before the senior school closed down in 1971 and students instead needed to travel for high school years.
“I was in grade 9 then, we had to then travel to Launceston which was big. But it was a great school to attend, we only lived up the road, we’d walk to school every morning and go back for lunch.”
Mrs Bowen said a lot has changed since her time at the school, including the buildings and playground, but one thing remains the same.
“The classrooms are completely different to when I was here, it’s lovely to see the children are all really happy and smiling,” Mrs Bowen said.
Grade four pupil Riley Scott said she enjoyed being able to learn what her school was like years ago.
“Learning about other people’s history at this school and what it used to be like. I saw a photo of it and it looked really small compared to how it is now.”
According to Riley, the best part of going to school is getting to see her friends every day, and the community. That’s inspired her future career.
“The teachers are really nice.
“I want to be a teacher, and I want to teach at this school, because one of my teachers, Mrs Badcock, is a big inspiration to me and I want to be just like her when I grow up,” Riley said.