Ringing in 120 years

White Gum Valley principal Glenn Rondini and students Leo Stanbrook and Mabel Fletcher-Nicholls (both 8) test out the school’s historic bell for the fete; it’s been given a makeover and parents will be able to buy bricks with their names for some commemorative paving the school’s planning. Photo by Steve Grant

WHITE GUM VALLEY primary school is celebrating its 120th anniversary next Saturday November 13 with a community fete, reunion and some spit and polish for its historic bell to celebrate the occasion.

The school opened in 1901 and is one of four surviving schools in WA to share a birthday with Australia’s Federation. Principal Glenn Rondoni said the original classroom’s no longer there and the existing buildings came in spurts; 1925, the 1970s, 2000 and 2012.

Mr Rondini’s office is piled high with old books and as he speaks to the Herald a team of year 4 students are poring over them to find old 1940s volumes for their class’s display for the fete.

“Each class has a decade to explore and find out what was happening at the time, so one class is looking at the moon landing and these guys are looking at World War II,” Mr Rondini says.

White Gum Valley was where Australia’s most celebrated war ace Sir Hughie Edwards went to school, and his memorabilia figures prominently in a display in the school’s office, which will also be open on the day.

P&C president Sherry Fletcher is sharing organising honours with fellow parent Jo Stanbrook and said they wanted an old-style school fete to bring the community together, so there’ll be no commercial vans.

The stage will also be filled with local acts, with the school boasting superstar Donna Simpson from The Waifs amongst the talented parents.

“We’ve got a very active P&C that formed in 1918 and since then having been holding book sales and lamington drives,” Ms Fletcher said.

“I haven’t baked any lamingtons yet, but that’s where the food came in with the cookbook idea.”

The school will be releasing a cookbook for its anniversary, which will help celebrate its multicultural diversity, while a commemorative badge will be given to all current students, while former alumni who’ll be coming along to the fete for their own reunion will also be able to purchase one.

Ms Fletcher said any profits from the day will go towards replacing the school’s playground with a new adventure playground.

The fete and reunion runs from 10am – 6pm.

by STEVE GRANT

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