A Brief of the history St. Mary’s Parish School Rushworth.
For many years the people of the Rushworth Parish had dreamed of a Catholic school of their own. In 1953, Fr. Michael Bowman and a dedicated group of parishioners proposed that St. Mary’s School be built and the Sisters of St. Joseph were invited to teach in the school.
1954: Catholic Education was established in Rushworth in 1954, when St. Mary’s School was blessed and opened by Bishop Bernard Stewart of Sandhurst on January 24th with 84 pupils. The convent was also blessed on this day. Students from Prep to Form III were enrolled. The first principal was Sr.Cuthbert Tyler, RSJ. The school comprised of three classrooms a small office and two cloak rooms.
1960: A large classroom was built on the end of the building to cater for Grade 6 to Form III. A shelter shed was also built at this time. 1966: Space was at a premium – four classrooms and 217 students! Ms Kath Moroney the first lay teacher joined staff. 1967: The two classrooms, cloakrooms, staff room, basement and storage area were built on the northern side of the original building. The new building was officially opened by Bishop Bernard Stewart in1967. 1969: Purchase of land on south side of Hume St including tennis courts. 1974: Mr Bob Tupa (USA) was the first male teacher at St Mary’s teaching Form I and II with Mrs Julie Barlow. 1980: Form I and II Year ceased. 1988: Significant landscaping work including leveling, drainage and concreting between the two buildings to incorporate a basketball court was completed by parents. 1991: The building of St. Mary’s Hall commenced, this was completed in 1994 through voluntary labour of both parishioners and the local community of Rushworth. 1994: The school was totally refurbished providing new toilets, office administration area and new library. 1997: Sr. Geraldine Larkins was the last Sister of St. Joseph to be principal at St. Mary’s. 1998: The first lay principal of St. Mary’s was Mr. Matthew Mann. 1999: The portable classroom was added to the south of the original building. 2004: Mr James Waight was appointed Principal. The classrooms were refurbished and carpets and furniture was replaced throughout the school. 2006: A new basketball/netball court was installed on the lower level near basement. 2007: A new veranda was placed on the original Building and a walk way erected to link the two buildings. A bus shelter and shade sails over the adventure playground were erected. Catholic Capital Grant was approved to upgrade administration area. Victorian State Government Needs Based Grant was approved for landscaping. 2009: Mrs Catherine Fraser was appointed Principal. 2010: National Pride Grant - the school oval was levelled and a retaining wall was erected. A fitness circuit with rubber surface was installed. Building Education Revolution (BER) and Catholic Capital Grant - St Mary’s School was completely refurbished and a new classroom and art room were built where the portable had stood. St Mary’s is now a 21st Century Learning Environment. The new and refurbished building was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Joseph Grech on December 13, 2010. 2011: Victorian Government Needs based Grant – new school entrance gates, stone feature terracing and decking, new sandpit, complete landscape upgrade, new black wrought iron boundary fence, new adventure playground equipment and shade sails. National Schools Solar Project Grant was approved. 2012: Outside of the school was painted. Split system heating and cooling completed in all classrooms. Apple Macbooks introduced in senior classroom with a bank of ten computers on wheels (COWs) for junior students use. A 16 KW solar system was assembled on the north facing roof of the original school building. 2013: The School Hall flooring was replaced, hall kitchen was upgraded and split systems for heating and cooling installed through Minor Capital funding program. 2014: The retaining wall was replaced with concrete slabs. St Mary's School community celebrated 60 years of education in the Rushworth district and a bust of Mary MacKillop, dedicated to all the Sisters of St Joseph who have lived and worked in Rushworth, was unveiled. 2017: Bike shed was erected. 2020: The tiled roof was replaced. Major drainage works were complete through the Minor Capital Works Program. Students were introduced to Ipads- every child has the use of an Ipad. 2020-2021: Non- Government Schools Capital Funding - refurbish the northern wing classrooms and breakout rooms as well as incorporating an amphitheaatre giving internal access to the lower level art/science rooom. A pictorial design depicting a cross and flora and fauna of the local environment was erected on the face of our building. 2023: The Sistrs of St Joseph completed their time in Rushworth in February 2023 after 70 years of dedication to the education and and pastoral needs of our Parish community. Sr Nellie Versluys was the last Sister to live and serve in Rushworth.