Catholic education was functioning in Cootamundra in 1870. Numbered among the first teachers are the names of Mrs Guery, Mr McCarthy, Mr Cod, Miss Mooney and Miss Partland.
In September, 1882, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Cootamundra and in October opened a school with 75 pupils. Music tuition received great impetus in the early part of the century and became an outstanding feature of the education offered by the Sisters. Amongst those taught were the gifted Chapman sisters, Dulcie and Patricia, the Johnson sisters, Billie and June and the Hulford sisters, Judy and Janice.
Dean O'Shaughnessey became Parish Priest in 1911 and applied to the Superior of the De La Salle Brothers for 3 brothers to educate the boys of the parish. The De La Salle Brothers arrived in Cootamundra in October 1913.
In January, 1967, the two secondary schools integrated fully and became the Catholic High School, Cootamundra, with a De La Salle Brother as Principal and a Sister of Mercy as Deputy Principal. This was possibly the first trial for Catholic co-education in New South Wales.
Eventually the Brothers withdrew from Cootamundra and a lay Principal was appointed in 1977. In 1982, the school became a Central School and today Sacred Heart continues to provide educational opportunities for students from Kindergarten to Year 10.
Contributed by Sr Macrina Galvin MSJ 2001.
100 Years Strong
The long weekend saw well over 300 visitors to Sacred Heart Central School, Cootamundra, to celebrate 100 years since the de la Salle Brothers started educating students and 131 years since the arrival of the Mercy Sisters. Visitors included past and present religious, staff and students.
The school boasts an illustrious and rich history commencing as a Parish school in 1870. It became a Sisters of Mercy school in 1882, de la Salle Brothers in 1913 and Sacred Heart Central School in 1982. The school claims to be the first co-educational Catholic school in Australia, having changed to a Catholic High School in 1967. Whilst the classes were coed, students were required to have separate playgrounds for girls and boys and the school still has design remnants from those days which clearly separate the play areas (although the students are now mixed on the playground!)
All attendees were keen to tour the beautiful grounds and were impressed by the vibrant and colourful classrooms and modern facilities. Stories of the past abounded and all were fascinated by the changes in technology clearly evident throughout the school. Many commented on the growth of the school which started with a single school room and has grown to accommodate 330 students from Early Stage 1 to Stage 5.
Current students were enthralled by tales of using slates rather than notebooks, iPads and Interactive Whiteboards, riding horses or in carts to school and having milk delivered for them to drink at recess. All enjoyed the fantastic display of old photographs and memorabilia which had been collated and beautifully displayed by John Connell. John spent many hours digging up the old treasures which were greatly appreciated by all. Current students couldn’t believe that there were not photos from all eras when the reason given was that photos were too expensive so many groups missed out as they could not be afforded. A far cry from almost all of our students taking photos daily with their assorted phones!
It was a wonderful experience to hear the beautiful memories shared and made throughout the 3 day celebration, particularly between current students and those from the past.
Nicky Trinder ~ Principal 2020