Recording artists, television personalities, inventors, elite sports men and women, plus notable figures in Australian history attribute part of their education to Wollongong High School.
Although it is the region’s centre for performing arts students, it still covers every other section of academia and even began life as a selective school.
WHS was originally established on Smith’s Hill in 1916 and at the time was the only high school between Sydney and the Victorian border, according to a new book detailing its 100 year history.
The first class to graduate was in 1917 with pupils from Helensburgh through to Bega.
The original school motto from 1918, Age Quid Agas, was later changed when it was discovered that it translated as “What on earth are you doing?”
The school motto then became Age Quod Agis meaning “Whatever you do, do well.”
WHS remained on the hill until 1956 when, after seven years of building, classes were moved to a new facility at the current Lysaght Street location in Fairy Meadow.
In 1992 is was officially declared a Performing Arts High School.
Former student and television sports presenter Barry Ross was commissioned to collate the school’s history into book form and quite enjoyed the task.
Rather than delve too much about the technical side of history, Mr Ross chose to write about people: “because people make schools”.
Actress and singer Natalie Bassingthwaite is one of the most recent celebrity from past students and will return to her old stomping ground next week to inspire current pupils.
Other notables to grace the classrooms include supreme court judge David Yates, Australian test cricketer Brian Taber, the first woman in Australia to be appointed as boss of a major hospital Mary Puckey and the international face of Nivea skincare Jocette Coote.
Current principal Paul Ryan said the vibe at the school was “electric” with many people travelling from afar including overseas to attend the celebrations across the next week.
He said it all culminates in a “celebration dinner” with more than 700 current, past and present students, staff, parents and carers at WIN Entertainment Centre Saturday December 10.
Events paying homage to WHS
- Monday December 5 and Tuesday December 6 students will showcase performances from dance, drama and music from 7pm.
- Nostalgia will be brought about by public tours of the grounds on Tuesday morning December 6 – to book contact the school on 4229 6844.
- Indigenous elders will be on hand for a traditional smoking ceremony on Wednesday at 6:30am, which also celebrates the opening of a new outdoor learning area.
- More than 700 current, past and present students, staff, parents and carers will attend a celebration gala dinner at the WIN Entertainment Centre.
- A commemorative book outlining significant personalities and events from the school’s history, written by Barry Ross, is also available for purchase from the school office – as is a range of centenary memorabilia.
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