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Delays slow start of schooling at Manildra in 1882

The establishment of Manildra’s Public School one hundred years ago was dogged by delays until teacher, Miss Mary Powell, took the matter in hand and opened the school herself.

She opened the doors of the Gregra Anglican Church for her first pupils on August 1, 1882 and promptly wrote a decisive memo to the Education Department.  “I took charge of the school on August 1st, 1882”.

The Anglican Church, which housed the school until December 1884, was leased for the yearly sum of “one peppercorn”.  There were 30 pupils on the first roll and one hundred years later, more than 118 pupils and five teachers will be among hundreds who’ll be in Manildra this weekend for the school’s centenary celebrations.

Mr G. Brenner, MLC will be guest speaker at the official ceremony at Manildra Public School on Saturday at 2pm.  Other official guests will include Mr John Hoy, Regional Director of Education, western region and Mr Connors, District Inspector.  Mr Brenner will deputise for Minister for Education, Mr Ron Mulock, MP.

The celebrations will begin with a festive street procession at 10.30am.  There will be 19 floats headed by the Orange Police Club Band and they will move along Kiewa Street to the school.

A barbecue lunch follows in the school grounds.  Visitors will be able to browse among a school photographic display, collections of memorabilia as well as a classroom set up with modern education aids.

A lapel badge, specially stamped for the centenary, will be presented to all pupils and staff at Manildra school.

A recital by the Orange Police Boys Club Band at 1.45pm will herald the arrival of official guests.  Pupils will present folk dances, dumbbell exercises, maypoles and a recorder recital during the afternoon.  Some of the pupils will be in period costume.

Saturday’s festivities will climax with a centenary dinner at the Memorial Hall and more than 400 people are expected to be there.

Celebrations continue on Sunday with morning tea at 10.15am followed by an Ecumenial church service at the school.  There’ll be more maypoles, folkdances and dumbbell exercises before an exhibition basketball match gets underway at noon between two top Orange teams.  Barbecue facilities will be available in the grounds and school exhibitions will open for inspection.

For chess enthusiasts, Vlado Vidulin will attempt to defeat six individual opponents simultaneously.  This tournament is timed for 12.30pm.  Other activities planned on Sunday afternoon include a goat race, bus tour, football long kicking competition, gumboot relays, hoop races, egg and spoon relays.

The final event is timed for 3.30pm with an exhibition tennis match at the school courts featuring Mal Yelland, Stephen Shea, Darren Gersbach and Des Farr.

The Sunday bus tour will take visitors around the district to the sites of all the early provisional schools that have since closed.  It’ll be a ride down memory lane for many people who’ll be revisiting Manildra town for the first time since their school days.  It’s expected some of the very old former teachers will be attending the centenary.

Mr Des Killiby, Headmaster of Manildra Public School has organised a time capsule to be sealed within a rock cairn parents have built to display the centenary plaque.  Mr Killiby said the capsule, which would include present school records and photographs, a Rubik cube and video tape of the procession and official ceremony, will be opened in 50 years.  “It seems more practical to set the half century on this so pupils who are here now will have an opportunity to benefit from the memories”.

School captains of 1975, Mrs Lexie Drewe (nee Townsend) from Cudal and Michael Hayes, of Orange, have been invited to seal the capsule on behalf of all former pupils.

The two oldest ex-teachers of Manildra Public School attending the ceremonies will be asked to plant two trees in the school grounds.  It had been hoped to have a larger tree planting ceremony but the persistent drought discouraged this
Central Western Daily 1982, ‘Delays slow start of schooling at Manildra in 1882’, Manildra Public School Centenary supplement, 21 October, pp.10-11.