The Sturt Street Community School in Adelaide, South Australia celebrated its 140th anniversary this year with an official event on Friday, May 5 at the Minor Works Building Community Centre.
The event was organised by the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA) as it has a close and long-standing relationship with the Sturt Street Community School.
The ethnic composition of the Sturt Street school had increasing numbers of Greek migrants pre-World War II, when many moved into the schools catchment area. Then, Sturt Street was classed as a New Arrivals school. The percentage of Greek students in the school was such that in the 1950s all school notices were sent home in Greek and English.
In 1996, the State Government proceeded to suspend its operation, a move which was temporary as the GOCSA acted towards, and succeeded in, re-opening it in 2004.
This history was touched on during the anniversary event on Friday.
The event was attended by a number of official guests including the Federal Member for Adelaide, Steve Georganas MP; State Member for Adelaide, Lucy Hood MP; the Mayor of Adelaide, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith; the well-known businessman Theo Maras; and the President of the GOCSA, Peter Gardiakos; among many others.
These guests all gave speeches on the night. The Mayor spoke first about the campaign to reopen the Sturt Street school after 1996 and said he was “so pleased to be part of a community that values education, values community, and fights for what is important.”
Mr Georganas stressed that the school is part of the history of South Australia, as well as “our history as children of Greek migrants, grandchildren of migrants, great grand-children of migrants.”
“One of the things that intrigues me about the school is the modern Greek language classes run through the GOCSA. It’s so special to be able to speak another language, but more special when you are speaking the language of your parents, your grandparents and your great grandparents,” Mr Georganas added.
Mr Maras, who is a former President of the GOCSA, also spoke on the day about the power of community and how people coming together saved the Sturt Street school.
“Education and this particular school was going to be the enabling tool for the Greeks that migrated here. What education meant to them was they could give their children an education to get out of poverty and misery…” Mr Maras said.
“When the state Liberal government closed this school, it made people come together. It was the people not only from Greek backgrounds, but all backgrounds, that wanted to keep this school open. The community came together. It was a community win for the community, by the community.”
In his speech, Mr Gardiakos said: “We are so proud to have such a strong association with this school, and we honour our very rich history and connection with Sturt Street.”
Friday’s event will be accompanied by an exhibition about the history of the Sturt Street Community School. The exhibition will run throughout May and will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 9.30am to 5pm.
Entry to the events is free.