When Kristy Day and her classmates moved from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Rozelle in 1995 to form a new school with children from St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School Balmain, some members of the community wondered whether the new school may be too small to remain open until the new millennium.
But last week, Fr John Therry Catholic Primary School Balmain/Rozelle held a school-wide Mass and weekend barn dance to celebrate how it has flourished in the 25 years since it united two communities. Ms Day’s daughter Arielle, now a Year 1 student at Fr John Therry, took part in the celebrations.
“The things I know Ari loves about the school – the staff and her friends and their parents – are all the things that I loved,” Ms Day said.
“It’s really strange now because now I go for coffee with school mums, and I remember my mum doing the same thing – and we go to the same place.”
Long-serving staff and strong leadership have been key factors in the school’s success. When Ms Day dropped off her daughter’s application for enrolment, she handed it to Raylene Fiorini. She’s the same administrator who had kept things running smoothly at Rozelle, and has now been at Father John Therry for two decades.
The school’s Principal, Marco Ianni, is one of only two to lead the school since its amalgamation, and has also worked there as a classroom teacher and religious education co-ordinator.
In discussing Fr John Therry’s success, he acknowledged the contributions of the local parish, parents and the school’s first principal Kathleen Neill, and praised the local community for their contribution to the school’s significant quarter century milestone.
“The two schools were closed because the area became mainly industrial, there weren’t many young families there, people were moving out,” he said. “So one of successes is the fact that the area has gone from this, to a place where people wanted to raise their children, that’s grown as a community.”
The school now educates around 370 students, almost four times more than in its first year. Storied architecture and sandstone still remain but facilities are currently being updated to include brand new classrooms for Kindergarten and build on already significant technology offerings, which include a film studio.