11 April 2023

Mount Rogers Primary digs up piece of school history to celebrate 50th birthday

| Travis Radford
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Mount Rogers Primary School Principal Felicity Levett (left) and Minister for Education and Youth Affairs Yvette Berry (right) holding a whole-school photo from 1973.

Mount Rogers Primary School principal Felicity Levett and Minister for Education and Youth Affairs Yvette Berry unfurl a whole-school photo from 1973 as part of the trip back in time. Photo: Travis Radford.

On the twelfth day of the twelfth month of 1990, Mount Rogers Primary staff and students buried two time capsules in the school’s front garden.

To mark the Melba school’s 50th year, new and old staff and students gathered together to reveal what treasures had been hidden inside for more than 30 years.

Principal Felicity Levett and Minister for Education and Youth Affairs Yvette Berry unpacked the capsules in front of a crowd of entranced students, parents and teachers.

The first capsule contained original uniforms (one with a once cent coin in the pocket), a school banner, flags for now-defunct student houses and a whole-school photo from 1973.

A second capsule contained typewriter-written documents, including old school reports, newsletters, a school map and old copies of the school magazine.

Hidden inside a manilla folder titled ‘various 1973 memorabilia’ was a plastic sleeve with several old badges, patches and a collectable spoon.

“Oh, the official school spoon. I’m not sure that we have those any more,” Principal Levett said to a chorus of student laughter.

A line-up of past students, many of whom had chosen to pursue careers in education, then shared their memories of the school.

ACT Education Directorate executive group manager for Safe at Schools, Kate McMahon, attended her kindergarten year at Mount Rogers in 1973.

“I was a very shy and introverted child and the teachers at Mount Rogers were able to support me in my education and meet my needs,” she said.

“And I know when I’ve been a teacher and a school leader, I’ve always thought about how to meet the needs of all of the children.

“Especially those kids who aren’t always in your face and loud but those ones who are quieter and need to be understood.”

But Ms McMahon said a lot had changed in the 50 years since she was wearing green and yellow for Mount Rogers.

“We no longer have to drink milk at morning tea time, and the uniform and the games we played sort of changed,” she said.

“But I think for Mount Rogers, it’s always been a very inclusive and engaging school and a lovely school community.”

Principal Levett thanked the community for turning out to celebrate the milestone with the school.

“I love a good reason to celebrate, a birthday, Christmas, a milestone like a graduation or even a performance or a run in the race,” she said.

“One of the reasons I love celebrating is because it does exactly what is happening right now, it builds a sense of community.

“This school, my school, our school runs on the community that it is and I cannot thank you enough for being here.”

READ ALSO This year marks 50 years of ACT public education, but the journey was ‘intense’

Minister Berry paid tribute to the history of the public education system in the ACT, established the same year as Mount Rogers Primary.

“Then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam decided the ACT school system should separate from the NSW system and so we became our own system,” she said.

“So you’re celebrating today because back in 1973, Spence Primary School, Flynn Primary School and Melba Primary School would become Mount Rogers Primary School.

“I feel very privileged and proud to be part of your school celebration today as a person who attended public schools in the ACT.”

Parents, teachers and past students shared a two-tier ‘birthday’ cake to conclude the celebration.

Mount Rogers has planned to bury new time capsules in term four with every student and class asked to contribute an item.

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Steve Mitchell4:16 pm 11 Apr 23

Wow. 50 years. I had to do kindergarten there in ’73 because Flynn Primary didn’t open until ’74.

Don’t remember much, though had to catch a bus every day.

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