|The immediate school district had been sparsely
developed as residential area until the post Second
World War period. In the mid 1950’s Mascoma Street
did not extend very far past the present school’s
western boundary. A dairy herd grazed peacefully
among the boxthorn bushes and scotch thistle in the
area that is now Strathmore Heights, disturbed only
by the planes taking off and landing at Essendon
Airport (then still the main Melbourne Airport).
Rabbits and occasionally a fox could be seen along
the airport’s northern fence. Local children
gathered mushrooms an the paddocks, caught yabbies
and small fish in the creek, or hiked across the
grassy slopes to the trestle bridge.
In 1954, the Education Department acquired the present school site, possibly foreseeing that continuing steady growth of home building in the area could lead to overcrowding at the closest schools, Oak Park and Strathmore, in the future years.
However in 1959 it was learnt that the Education Department proposed to sell the site. This news had the effect of greatly stimulating interest in obtaining a school in the area as quickly as possible.
A group of parents, aware of the number of new homes being built in the areas close to the eastern ends of Mascoma and Lebanon Streets, and the serious overcrowding at Strathmore Primary School, began to press for the establishment of a new school on the present site.
Prominent in the early moves for the school were Mrs. Gibbs, Mr. Arthur Roberts, whose letter to a local newspaper attracted wide attention, Mr. Ron Bucknell and Mrs. Jean Cole, Mrs. Marj Reddish, Mrs. Avril Roberts, Mrs. Joan Nichols and Mrs. Dulcie Streete, who conducted a house to house survey to ascertain prospective enrolments, should a school be built. This survey indicated that there were already 200 children of school and immediate pre-school age in the proposed school’s area.
In mid - 1959, a meeting of interest was held. The support of local councillors and of Mr. Kenneth Wheeler, M.L.A., was sought and readily obtained. Several letters were sent to the Education Department, and petitions and deputations to Parliament, through the Minister of Education, were organised.
However, about this time two incidents occurred which strengthened the local case for a school. One was the unfortunate death of a pupil, who was struck by a car in Napier Street, on his way to Strathmore School; and the other was the flooding of the Moonee Ponds Creek, necessitating a very long walk to the school for those students living north of Peck Avenue, who attended Oak Park School. Further strength was given to the case by the Broadmeadows Council’s promise to supply a footbridge across the creek, linking Odin Street with Margaret Street. Children living close to the school, but across the creek could then attend it. This would relieve the pressure on Oak Park school, which was also , by this time, becoming over- crowded.
In spite of the lack of official support for the school, the members of the Promotion Committee continued to press for the establishment, and in 1960 their efforts were rewarded when building building began on the first stage of the school, comprising six classrooms, office, staffroom and service rooms. The total cost of this section of the school was 25 257 pounds.
The site was small, containing only about 2.5 acres in all, but the plan allowed for additions. In 1962, for more classrooms were added. In 1967, a portable classroom was provided to relieve accommodation difficulties and in 1970 a second portable was needed. The final five classroom were completed in 1971.
The official opening of the school by the Hon. The Minister for Education, Mr. J S Bloomfield, M.L.A. took place on Friday 28 April 1961. A plaque was placed on the wall near the Secretary’s Office.
The school opened to receive pupils on 9 February 1961, with 150 pupils, most of whom had originally attended Strathmore Primary School.
Because of severe overcrowding in many schools of the time, the Education Department had a policy which stated that children should attend the school closest to their homes. Children who lived in the area bounded by Moonee Ponds Creek, The Broadmeadows Railway Line, Peck Avenue and the last homes in Mascoma Street were required to attend the new school.
Some of the parents (particularly those with children in Grade 5 or 6, who were finishing their primary schooling) were very reluctant to move their children from a well equipped school in an established area to a new school. On the other hand, others who lived just south of Peck Avenue wanted to send their children to Strathmore North, because of the greater traffic danger in travelling to Strathmore Primary School. There were several reports in local newspapers and appeals sent to the Education Authorities, with some parents being successful in having their children cross zone boundaries to complete their Primary schooling.
In 1961 the footbridge across the Moonee Ponds Creek was completed which allowed the transfer of 62 Students from Oak Park Primary School with some areas across the creek being included in the school’s zone.
School enrolments gradually increased in the next eight years:
1961 - 247, 1964 - 329,
1967 - 415
The original teaching staff in 1961 was Mr.. Kevin Gerraty, Head Teacher, Miss Barbara Strange, Infant Mistress, Mr.. Francis J. Hogan, Mr.. Robert V. McPhee, Mr.. Kenneth H. Gratton, Miss Carmel T. Behan, Mrs. Susan A. Brooks and Miss M. J. Rose.
The School Principals to 1986 were:
1961 - 1965 Mr. Kevin Gerraty
1966 - 1971 Mr. John Hartigan
1972 Mr. Frank Ryan
1973 - 1974 Mrs. Heather Scott (Acting Principal)
1975 - 1978 Mr. C. J. (Neil) McDonnell
1979 - 1980 Mr. John Daniel
1981 - 1982 Mr. Arthur Gleeson
1983 - ? Mr. Clement Widdison
Excerpts from a Booklet entitled "Strathmore North Primary School - The First 25 Years" (1961 - 1986)" printed on the occasion of the 25 anniversary of the School's commencement. Greater details of the history of the school can be obtained from that source.
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