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WESTMERE SCHOOL HISTORY

The quest  for a school at Westmere began in July 1890 with a petition from Mr JE Murray to the Education Board. Two years later the Board agreed to purchase a one acre plot on the corner of Tayforth and 'Kai Iwi' Roads offered by Mr Murray for fifteen pounds, "provided the settlers paid half the cost". The site was vested in the Education Board on 15 August 1892. However the shed that was erected by Messrs T Allison and Alex Laird, although used as a school , "was not acceptable to the Board for it to place a trained teacher at Westmere". By the end of 1893 school numbers were of great concern to parents. Following the Boards 'inspection of the site', Messrs Murray and Allison were advised that "if the settlers would build a school conforming to the Board's plan, the Board would open a school. It was further agreed that if the roll kept at an average of twenty five for a period of twelve months the Board would refund the actual cost of the building." A 'substantial' room was constructed in the early months of 1894 and the Board appointed Miss Emma P Laird as the first teacher at a salary of 111 pounds per annum.

Westmere school was born!

(From: Westmere School 100 year Jubilee 1894-1994 by Rae Mathews)

 

Reflections

by Allan Skilton

 "I am prompted to reflect on how our favourite old school has evolved over the century and developed as an entity in the whole of the Wanganui Education Board district, that can be described as second to none. Little did the early settlers of the district realise that in establishing Westmere School, their children were to become the first decade pupils of a school destined to be rated among the best primary establishments in New Zealand.

'There are, without doubt, many circumstances and reasons why Westmere School has indeed emerged in a class of its own.'

The type of industry and lifestyle of the residents of Westmere have played a major role in this development as have the inputs of many of staff. Some of those staff have made their contributions over one, two and three decades and so have made an indelible impression on the destiny of the school, and also the pupils who have attended - some of whom no doubt record those impressions in ways other than by learning with books, pen and paper.

The depression years of the 1930s and the war years of the 1940s were understandably not great years in the development of Westmere, but it seems now that there was a sort of hibernation for those two decades until the 1950s when it all started to happen again. Rolls bloomed and events became significant. Under Pat Reynolds' leadership, events like the diamond dubilee and the building of the baths, coupled with changes in transportation etc. made the 1950s memorable years in the school's history.

Much more was still to come as the 1960s and ' 70s rolled on. Educational resources were making a huge impact on the learning scene and the parents and residents of Westmere were well in the forefront ensuring that the school was well equipped with the necessities to provide the quality of education being sought at the time. The school was extremely fortunate to have Eugene Crotty at the helm in those years for, under his influence and direction, changes in curriculum and the emphasis on the outdoor education resulted in the school making huge advances in its standards of achievement and extension of its pupils' capabilities.

Ron Anderson ensured that these standards were maintained through the 1970s and Westmere continued to hold its place of honour in the Wanganui Education Board district.

The loss of the Rural hall at Westmere resulted in a much needed amenity at the school. The community hall certainly brought the district focus on to the school and has proved an asset.

As time rolled on to the 1980s the age of computers in schools arrived. Lew Dodds made sure the first computer came to Westmere School in 1987 and by 1990 all classrooms had them.

As the first century of Westmere School has come to a close, it will be an interesting exercise trying to forcast what lies in store for Westmere School and for education in general. There is much that those who engineered the first century can be proud of and we hope that the architects of the second century will continue to uphold the proud achievements and traditions of Westmere"

(Excerpts taken from Westmere School 100 year Jubilee 1894-1994 by Rae Mathews the last section 'Reflections ..by Allan Skilton')