STATUS QUO MCMLIX
This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time – Education Week, 1959 – and their origins.
WOLLONGBAR PUBLIC SCHOOL
Before the year 1900 there had been considerable agitation for the establishment of a school at Wollongbar, for many of the district youngsters were growing up and receiving little or no education. Some of them attended Alstonville School, while others tramped through the scrub to McLean's Ridges, where Mr. A. Cousins was teacher-in-charge.
By the middle of 1900 a wooden building 24ft. x 16ft. had been erected at Wollongbar and was opened on the 9th July, 1900, with an enrolment of thirty pupils.
The first teacher was Mr. C. J. Costello and the school was surrounded by scrub, some fallen and some standing.
During the first year the enrolment reached the forties and soared to over fifty in 1904, necessitating an addition of 12ft. to the classroom.
PUPILS CLEAR PLAYGROUND
The teacher and his pupils set about clearing the "playground" of logs and stumps, and by 1905 a garden had been established.
Mr. Costello was truly a pioneer of education and must have done wonderful work with his fifty-odd pupils. He remained at Wollongbar for sixteen years and was succeeded by Mr. Randall Young in 1916.
Mr. Young was a worthy successor to the stouthearted Costello for, during his six years at the school, he usually had about forty pupils and is still well spoken of by those who knew him. He was an authority on plant, insect and bird life which abounded in this part of the 'Big Scrub".
Mr. Young suffered with ill-health during 1918 and was relieved by Mr. Leslie Robertson.
The next teacher was Mr. George Blacklock, who later became State Supervisor of the Junior Farmers' Clubs. Mr. Blacklock taught at Wollongbar from 1922 to 1926, when Mr. William Carson took charge and remained for fourteen years.
Mr. Carson was well known in the district as a teacher and citizen. Quite a number of his ex-pupils still reside at Wollongbar. He now lives on the Clarence in retirement.
In 1941 Mr. Arthur Wray was appointed to the school. In that year the present P. and C. Association was formed and soon afterwards Mr. Robert Sneath was appointed secretary. An interesting link there was that Mr. Sneath was one of the original pupils of Mr. Costello in 1900. Mr. Sneath is still secretary at the present time.
In 1947 the old school was remodelled, which meant an almost new building. An extra 6ft. was added to the width and the building was raised and placed on brick piers. Built-in cupboards were installed and dual desks and kindergarten tables replaced the old cedar desks and seats at which Mr. Costello's charges had laboured. A start was made to put down lawns and new garden beds in 1941 and the school and residence are now surrounded by spacious lawns.
In 1950 the Golden Jubilee of the school was held and ex-pupils came from near and far to take part in the celebrations. Happy memories were revived that day and some of the original pupils were able to point out trees they had planted in the grounds in 1900. It is planned to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in 1960.
Throughout the years the enrolment has varied from 20 to 40, but in 1958 it soared again to almost 50 and an assistant teacher, Mrs. Buckle, was appointed, the local hall being used as a temporary classroom. Mrs. McCombe assisted also in 1958.
At the beginning of 1959 the classification of the school was raised to third class, and Miss J. Mules, the present assistant, was appointed.
The present enrolment at the school is 43. The school serves the large Wollongbar district and is well supported by a strong P. and C. Association.
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