St Peter’s Woodlands Celebrates 100 Years of History
In 2023 St Peter’s Woodlands celebrated 100 years of education on this Partridge Street site, the occasion became more than just a milestone; it was a poignant moment to reflect on the school’s journey and continue to preserve its rich history for generations to come.
The importance of stories and connection
We recognise that the true essence of history lies in the narratives of those who lived it, so we took the opportunity to connect with old scholars and hear real life stories from their schooling days at Woodlands. It’s their memories which bring colour and shade to the historical facts, photos and records and ultimately enriches our history.
School Community Coordinator Paul Mesecke, said, “We really wanted to capture those special little moments which have never been recorded, those moments which have made a student’s experience at our school so special and memorable.”
The advancement of technology has better equipped us with the means to connect with our old scholars. The St Peter’s Woodlands website now hosts a dedicated section where old scholars can contribute their memories and photos. Some of these stories have formed blogs that have been shared with the community across the course of the year.
“We are receiving amazing memories of lost traditions, funny moments and silly occasions from such a wide range of students, which have been incredible to read. We are still working through what we do with all of these memories and we want as many old scholars as possible to keep adding their experiences.”
Further to this, in just ten months of our 100 Years of Education digital campaign, we have captured updated contact details from 250 old scholars who had fallen off the database of 3000 old scholars. Re-establishing this connection has been wonderful and gives the old scholars every opportunity to reconnect with old classmates.
Paul says, “This connection is also about involving the old scholars in our current school community. They may be past students and teachers, but each of them played a part in our school’s history and we hope they are part of our school’s future.”
Back to School Event
Our biggest celebration to mark 100 Years of Education was the Back to School event. The day was an opportunity for over 300 Woodlands’ old scholars to come together in St Margaret’s Chapel to enjoy nibbles and drinks and reconnect with old classmates and teachers with memorabilia from Woodlands’ school days on display, a performance by the St Peter’s Woodlands Chapel Choir, and artwork from SPW students. It was wonderful to have so many people attend this truly memorable and happy event.
The Chapel Choir students expertly led groups of the old scholars on tours of the school grounds, including the Law Smith Building and old boarding house.
It’s amazing how buildings hold so many memories and the importance they play in grounding the present through the history it holds.
“We are blessed with beautiful buildings like the Law Smith building, the Gillam building, and the Nutter Thomas building. Although many of the interiors have changed as education has evolved over the last hundred years, there has been a genuine respect in honouring the architecture.
“You can still hear the voices and those naughty stories of students over the years when you look at these buildings.”
Generations of families
It is quite unique for the closure of one school and the opening of another on the same grounds to hold onto its history the way Woodlands and St Peter’s Woodlands has. We are the beneficiaries of some visionary decisions made by those involved in the 1998 transition to ensure that the history wasn’t lost, but lived on through St Peter’s Woodlands, despite it being a new school. We hope we can do our part in ensuring that the history gets passed on down the generations.
“We are incredibly lucky as a community to also have a large number of third and even fourth-generation students who continue to be part of our school community,” said Paul.
It’s a privilege that these families have continued to send their children to St Peter’s Woodlands. It suggests that we inherited and continue to create a welcoming environment for children.
Bec Stevens, a current SPW parent and Woodlands old scholar says, “We love the beautiful grounds and open spaces and felt very welcome from day one when we toured the school. We are very lucky to have so much space for a primary school in Glenelg! It worked out perfectly for us as we could send all three of our children as it is now co-ed. It is nice that we can say to the children that I went here and both of their nana’s and great aunts!”
Bec goes on to say, “The most special thing we have found at SPW is the amazing community. There is nothing quite like it and we feel so grateful to be part of such a supportive and tight knit community! Every morning coming into the school there is this beautiful, positive vibe and we are always greeted with lots of families walking past saying hello to our family and it is just the best feeling!
History through art
Acknowledging the significance of the 100 year milestone, Paul saw it as a valuable opportunity for students to delve deeper into the school’s transformative journey over the past century. The idea for students to depict our history through visual art was proposed and the Year 3 and 4 students embraced it whole heartily.
“Our students already know some of our school’s history, but they really enjoyed researching a bit more, learning about key moments and special connections through the past 100 years,” said Paul.
The tangible representation of this historical journey comes to life through a mural. The mural’s three canvases were unveiled during the old scholar, Back to School event and showcased in the school’s SALA exhibition. Now proudly on display in the Law Smith building, the mural stands as a visual testament to the school’s vibrant and evolving history.
“It was a great opportunity to speak to our students about how some things change, but there is always that history there,” said Paul.
Paul reflects on the significance of this year, stating, “As the world is changing so quickly, we are often looking to the future in order to prepare our students for the world they will one day be adults in, but this year, it has been really important to look back.”
“You can see what it means for many of our past students and teachers to spend time with each other as well as with our current students, and to reconnect with a community that played such an important part in their lives.”