December 04, 2017
Last week I spoke at the centenary celebration of Coburg West Primary School. The initial plans for establishing Coburg West Primary go all the way back to 1912, when the education department purchased three acres of land in Coburg at a cost of 10 pounds. A public meeting was convened in June 1916 on Munro Street, just a couple of doors down from my current electorate office, and a committee was formed to campaign for the construction of a new school in West Coburg, which officially opened in September 1917. If we fast-forward more than 50 years, in the mid-seventies, under the Whitlam government, the school was listed by the Australian Schools Commission as a disadvantaged school and received funds to assist in the education of the increasing number of migrant students.
At the centenary celebration, I joined Barry Shackleton in unveiling a commemorative plaque in recognition of the school’s long and proud history. At the age of 96, Barry is the oldest living alumnus of the school, having attended from 1927 to 1933. It was great to see Barry there. We heard from the current principal, Mark Colagrande, that during the Great Depression Barry and his mates got into big trouble for ringing the bell during school hours. Given it was the Depression, I said to Barry, ‘I’m surprised you and your mates didn’t nick the bell and try to pawn it off.’ But I’d like to congratulate all the teachers, the students and the parents of Coburg West Primary School, past and present, on a fantastic centenary. Here’s to the next 100 years.