It’s been 100 years since the doors opened at St Mary’s primary school in Hastings and the school has seen a myriad teachers and students come and go. Originally named Immaculate Conception, the school was blessed and opened in 1917. Yet, it did not begin to operate as a school until 1919. The first class started with eleven pupils. Today, the school has 130 students and is watched over proudly by Principal, Jason Micallef.
“We are thrilled to be celebrating the centenary of the school in September with some fabulous activities in mind for our big event on Friday September 13,” said Principal Micallef, who has been with the school for two years. “It has been wonderful to join a school with such unique offerings and to be part of the centenary celebrations is an honour.”
For Principal Micallef, teachers and students, school life today would be very different from 100 years ago.
“One of the activities we are doing with the children is having a day where we step back in time to show what it would have been like back then,” said Principal Micallef, of the school that began with one building. “We are going to take the school back 100 years and get the children to dress up as if they were going to school in that era.
Our classrooms will be like stepping back in time and the children will get an experience of everyday school which in those days was much more regimented. They will get a sense of what it was really like then as well as it being a lot of fun.”
The original school was the current library; which had two classrooms and served the community and its children well for many years. When the school opened during World War One, equipment in the classrooms and lessons were very different. Pupils would have sat at long wooden benches made from narrow planks usually with no back. At the front of the classroom would be a large wooden blackboard on a floor stand.
“St Mary’s has changed and grown dramatically since then but still maintains a small enough number of children and staff to provide personal attention,” said Principal Micallef.
“While we may be a small school, we are at the forefront with our philosophy and modern approach to our children’s education. The school has seen all manner of changes from extension and growth of the buildings to our philosophy for teaching.”
Under Principal Micallef’s direction, the school has taken a more forward thinking and progressive approach to teaching, with excellent results.
“In the last few years we have made changes to our approach to do with the art of teaching,” said Principal Micallef, who came from progressive schools. “We motivate the students to learn and use their own initiative. We look at how they can learn more effectively and what influences positive learning environments so that students take an active part in their learning.”
St Mary’s celebrates their 100 year anniversary on September 13 with a school and community mass, followed by an open day at school.
“We are doing other activities to commemorate the event but the main day is on Friday the 13th, starting with a whole school mass and then an open school which will show where we have come from and where we are now. We will have our master plan on display and there will be plenty of fun and informative activities.”