HISTORY OF OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART SCHOOL - ELMORE.
Catholic Education commenced in Elmore in 1902 with lay teachers teaching in a small building situated in what was afterwards referred to as the cow paddock. When the new Church was opened in 1904 the old Church became the school.
Lay teachers continued until 1929 and for 20 years of that period the Misses Flynns were the teachers.
During the 1920's, Father Ryan, the Parish Priest, was convinced that Elmore should have a school wherein, music, commercial and intermediate work would be taught, as well as the full course of primary subjects. Thus the Convent was built and the Daughters of Our Lady Of The Sacred Heart took over the administration of the school.
The Sisters commenced teaching on the 30th January 1929, with an enrolment of 24 pupils, in the old church building which had been shifted to a site behind the new Convent in Childers Street. From the beginning both primary and secondary subjects as well as music were taught. The secondary classes being taken in the glassed in verandah of the Convent until a small school was brought in from May Reef in 1944.
The year 1954 saw the end of secondary education in this school, when most children transferred to Rochester or Bendigo after the sixth grade. As numbers increased, primary classes were then taught in both the old church building as well as the former May Reef schoolroom.
Two new brick classrooms were constructed in Jeffrey Street in 1960, as the old wooden church building was considered unsafe owing to damage caused by white ants. The Foundation Stone was laid and blessed by Most Reverend Bishop Stewart DD on Sunday, 13th March 1960, before a large gathering of Parishioners.
When fire destroyed the old May Reef school building in 1968, the Parish Room behind the Convent was then used as a classroom until 1976 when extensions to the Jeffrey Street building were completed. The new extensions consisted of a classroom with adjoining art area and an office. In 1990 a generous bequest from the local Blanchen family allowed the school to acquire a demountable building which became the school library.
Due to shortages of vocations and lack of appropriate teaching personnel, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart gave up the administration of the School in May 1981. From this time onwards the running of the school was put back in the hands of the laity when a lay principal was appointed. Lay teachers and one Sister from the Convent of O.L.S.H then staffed the school. An Administrative Officer was appointed to assist the Principal at the start of 1984.
It was with real disappointment that the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart decided to withdraw from Elmore at the end of 1988. The role that they had played in our school, parish, town and district over 60 years had been greatly appreciated and their presence would be greatly missed. It was a sad farewell to an important part of the way of life in Elmore.
From the commencement of 1989, the running of the school has been completely in the hands of the laity who are directly responsible to the Parish Priest.
When the Sisters of O.L.S.H. returned to Elmore in January 1995 there was much jubilation. Since that time the Sisters have once again became an important part of our school community offering prayerful support and a spiritual presence.
Our Lady of The Sacred Heart School is proud of its association with the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Our school community should always be indebted to these religious women who sacrificed so much to ensure that the parents of Elmore could access Catholic education for their children. Despite the reality that the Sisters no longer play a hands on role in the school their presence in the community and prayerful support and encouragement of all the children is highly regarded.
The charism of the OLSH Sisters is foundational to existence as a Catholic school in this small rural community. The charism and the way it is expressed, enriches the Church, the people to whom it is given, and those with whom they work. It gives each congregation its identity, it determines its spirit and its mission in the world.
The gift given to the founder of the order, Fr. Chevalier, and through him to the Sisters and in turn to our school community, is to see that in Jesus, God loves people with a human heart, and that he is the answer to their hopes, their questionings, their every need.
The OLSH spirituality calls us to imitate Jesus, so that everyone we encounter will discover through us, the strength of his love to support them in their fragility, and the gentleness of his love to bring them the compassion and understanding for which they long. We are the hands and feet, and especially the heart of Jesus in our world.