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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Batemans Bay Public School celebrates 150

Batemans Bay Public School Public school is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this week with an Anniversary Ball to be held Saturday night at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club (TICKETS HERE) In acknowledging the long history of the school Batemans Bay Public School Principal, Mr Kel Smerdon said "As a new person to this area and to this school it has been a fascinating experience to learn about the history of this collection of people and stories that makes up the 150 year story that is Batemans Bay PS today." "Often we think of things like schools in the ‘now’ and as an ‘object’ but when you walk around the walls of the hall and look at the pictures surrounding us you begin to consider that the school is actually formed by the stories of thousands upon thousands of people. "If BBPS were a play we would have had thousands of actors playing their parts and if we were a patchwork quilt it would be a gigantic one with squares for all of the faces in these photos. "The beginnings of our school started in 1869 when the bay was a collection of small houses along the shoreline that is now Batemans Bay. After two years of attempting to get a school established Batemans Bay Public commenced with the support of a local magistrate at the time who did note- ‘You will find no educated persons at Batemans Bay so you must work with the best materials you can get'.

Above: Photos from the archives of Batemans Bay Public School "In the beginning, the school’s first teacher Mr O’Rielly, who was just 24, started off being paid by locals teaching 15 pupils in the day and 6 at night before the school was even established. "After a year or so the operator of the punt across the river advised that he wasn’t able to ferry the students across any longer and for a short time a half half school was created with half the day spent on the south and half on the north side of the river. This didn’t last long as the north side students thinned out so this side of the river’s school was closed. "This is somewhat funny as our school now sits on the north side of the bridge and our students most certainly turn up each day. "In 1872 the school was led by a teacher who was just 19 years of age when the population of the district was just 140 with 30 students expected to be attending. One ponders could they have ever imagined that our school would now be in excess of 600 students with over 80 staff members and a budget of 8.2 millions dollars annually. "The contribution to our school by parents was most notably begun by a local policeman who encouraged the parents and community to assist the students who often had to wade across a creek to get to the school by building a small bridge. This simple act may well have been the beginning of the very important role that our school’s P&C has continued to play in ensuring the school feels cared for, supported and owned by not just the teachers and students but the broader school community. "Five years after starting our school finally became official and for the next 25 years students and teachers learnt in some fairly poor conditions with leaking roofs, gaps between the timber cladding on the building and next to no resources. Ironically, in the 1890’s movement of the school to a new site was thought about but the land was considered too swampy. This is funny as the land our new school sits on was indeed an old swamp area. "In the early 1950’s the old school site was built under where our shopping centre is today in Vesper street until it was moved to our current location in 2002.

Above: Photos from the archives of Batemans Bay Public School You may have looked at the amazing photo in our office foyer of the students marching across the bridge. And so, from these stories we come to Batemans Bay Public School 2019." 2019 sees the celebration of 150 years that Batemans Bay Public School has been delivering quality public education in Batemans Bay. We invite the community to join us for a celebration Ball on the 24th of August 2019, to be held at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club. Past teachers, students and community members are welcome to join us to help commemorate 150 years of serving the Batemans Bay community. 

Above: Photos of Batemans Bay Public School courtesy of South Coast Pix Please note that the camera was not, at any point, flying directly over the kids or the school and a telephoto lens was used to capture these shots. The 150th Anniversary Ball is to be held Saturday August 24th, 2019 at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club (TICKETS HERE)


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