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The St Michael's Story

Take a journey through St Michael's 125-year history to discover the events that have shaped our School

From our beginnings in 1895 to today, the St Michael’s Grammar School story is one of shared values, determination and innovation. We have an enviable place in the fabric of the community, and the success and impact of our Michaelians spans the world.

2010s and beyond

A decade of change: Australia's same sex marriage bill is passed and in 2015 Michelle Payne becomes the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. As the decade comes to a close, Australia unites to fight severe bushfires across the country. At St Michael's, the award winning Gipson Commons is opened and Mrs Terrie Jones is welcomed as the new Head of the School.

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2010s and beyond

The award winning Gipson Commons opens in 2016, providing students and staff with a variety of different spaces that each foster innovation.

Designed to be the heart of the School ‘village’, the Gipson Commons provides a meeting place for students, staff and families from across the entire School. It also provides students and staff with distinctive learning spaces equipped for 21st century educational challenges.

Other enhancements to the campus include the acquisition of St George’s Church after many years of leasing, and a revitalisation of the gymnasium and pool. The Parents and Friends Association take a lead role in establishing the Octavius Brown Kitchen Garden at Frank Woods House.

Mr Simon Gipson’s term as Head of the School comes to an end in 2017, and Mrs Terrie Jones is warmly welcomed as the new Head in 2018. Mrs Jones embraces and builds on the concept of the School as a community and a village, with the guiding metaphor of St Michael’s as a learning ecosystem. This is reflected in the School’s new Strategic Direction: Towards 2030, which reinforces St Michael’s commitment to providing a vibrant, co-educational environment that prepares students for the world.

Also in 2018, St Michael’s introduces the School’s very first Women’s AFL Football team (pictured) that competed in the inaugural season of the ACS Senior Girls Football. The team performed extremely well throughout the season, going on to win the premiership in an exciting match against St Leonards.

Celebrating Pride and Inclusion

St Michael’s celebrates Pride and Inclusion Day for the first time in 2019, to show acceptance and celebration of student diversity and the LGBTQIA+ community.

As part of our Pride and Inclusion Day celebrations, special guest speakers Deputy Chair of the Victorian Pride Centre (VPC), Mr Stuart Kollmorgen OAM and the Centre’s Coordinator Ms Stacey Halls, join the Years 7-12 Astor Assembly to speak to students about the Centre’s mission.

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Celebrating Pride and Inclusion

2000s

The year 2000 begins with the celebration for the new millennium. Sydney hosts the Summer Olympics and the centenary of Federation is celebrated. Technology advances rapidly and becomes an integral part of society including teaching and learning. Mr Simon Gipson becomes Head of the School in the year 2000, and in 2005, the School uniform is given a fresh look.

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2000s

The turn of the century sees the appointment of Mr Simon Gipson as Head of the School. He revises student assessment and reporting and develops an integrated learning program across the School. St Michael’s is recognised for its Drama, Dance and Outdoor Education programming.

Under the new leadership of Mr Simon Gipson, the Great Barrier Reef Immersion commences as part of the Exodus program. The School is recognised as one of ten schools across Australia for its exceptional Outdoor Education program.

Performing Arts continues to thrive, including a triumphant performance of Les Misérables at the Athenaeum Theatre – the very first school performance to take place in the Theatre. The School is again recognised, this time for its drama and dance programs.

The uniform that our students still wear today is introduced in 2005 (pictured), created by fashion designer Jane Lamerton.

In 2006, the School introduces a Buddy Program across the Senior Years which fosters connectedness and the development of strong social skills in St Michael’s students.

Les Misérables

In 2001, St Michael’s becomes the first school to stage a production in Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre with the performance of Les Misérables. The production involves a cast and crew of more than 140 students, staff and Old Michaelians.

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Les Misérables

1990s

John Howard becomes Prime Minister, defeating Paul Keating after a record 13 years of Labor government. The new government introduces some of the world's strictest gun laws, the High Court delivers the Mabo Decision, and Queensland votes 'no' in the referendum on daylight savings. The St Michael's campus and student enrolments continue to grow, and in 1999, the School farewells Mr Tony Hewison after 20 years as Head.

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1990s

The 1990s see the consolidation and continued growth of St Michael’s. The School campus expands with the addition of a new Sports Complex, a Design and Technology Centre, a Childhood Centre and a state of the art Computer Laboratory in the Junior School.

By 1990 enrolments reach 1347. To accommodate the large numbers, the St Michael’s campus continues to grow.

The new Sports Complex is opened (pictured) and the School leases St George’s Church to use as a performance space. A Design and Technology Centre is opened in Wellington Street and the St Michael’s early Childhood Centre is established. The Masonic Centre becomes the Junior School’s Wilma Hannah Library and Emily Hall.

St Michael’s also leads the way in technology, connecting to the internet and, after entering into a partnership with NEC, becoming the first School in Australia to install a fibre optic network. A state of the art computer laboratory is opened in the Junior School.

On commemoration day, Friday 24 March 1995, St Michael’s sister school in Hobart presents the School with a new school flag. Sister Scholastica, along with the St Michael’s Co-Captains, bring the flag back to Melbourne, landing at the St Kilda pier after crossing the rough seas and pouring rain of the Bass Strait.

At the end of the decade, Mr Hewison retires after twenty years as Head, having transformed St Michael’s into a high profile, co-educational institution.

Music and Performing Arts at St Michael's

In the 1990s, the School’s musical and performing arts programs expand rapidly. Acclaimed performances of King Lear, Romeo and Juliet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are among the highlights from the era. The vibrant performing arts tradition has continued to this day, and it remains a key part of life at St Michael’s. Notable productions from recent years include Les Miserables and Cloudstreet.

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A tradition of Art, Music and Drama
St Michael's progressive education

One parent sums up this aspect of St Michael’s in 1998 by saying, “On the one hand the School is old-fashioned and places a lot of demands on the students, but they also have this wonderful freedom that’s not in other schools. St Michael’s lets your child be themselves to the best they can be.”

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St Michael's progressive education

1980s

A decade of technological developments sees the release of the first IBM Personal Computer, Microsoft launches Windows, and Steve Jobs introduces the first Macintosh computer. Medicare is established and 'Advance Australia Fair' is proclaimed as Australia's official national anthem. Mr Tony Hewison becomes Headmaster of St Michael's and fast-tracks the School's co-education policy.

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1980s

Mr Tony Hewison becomes the first man to lead St Michael’s. He accelerates the co-education policy, which sees an equal number of boys and girls at the School within a few years.

New building works are undertaken with the construction of The Quad, a new library and new classrooms. Hewison House and Elmwood are purchased with Hewison House eventually becoming the main administrative building for the School.

In preparing the School for co-education Mr Hewison redesigns the School to meet the needs of both boys and girls. He also introduces an earlier start to the school day, shorter lunch and recess and a revised timetable. Curriculum milestones include the introduction of Modern Greek, Legal Studies, Accounting, Music and Human Development.

The school also focuses on providing students with outdoor learning activities such as camping, abseiling, canoeing and hiking, paving the way for the Outdoor Education Program that is still in place today.

St Michael’s students continue to excel in Performing Arts (pictured) and in Sport, including swimming, hockey, volleyball and football. The School triumphs in interschool swimming and won 14 champion cups in 15 years.

Mr Hewison’s first day

On 13 January 1980, the first day at his new school, Tony Hewison enters the grounds by clambering over the barbed wire of Redan Street fence. There had been no key to aid his coming, no greeting from an appointed member of Council, and no arrangement to let him in made with the School’s caretaker, who lived in the old cottage at the end of the oval.

After dusting himself off, and calming the caretaker’s ill-tempered dog, Laddie, Mr Hewison enters the deserted offices to be greeted by a surprised bursur.

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Mr Hewison’s first day

1970s

‘Living in the 70s’ was more than just a Skyhooks album. The Vietnam War comes to an end and the White Australia Policy is officially dismantled. The first Labor government since 1949 is elected under the leadership of Gough Whitlam. At St Michael's, the boarding house is closed, the Sisters announce their intention to withdraw from the School, and the transition to co-education begins.

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1970s

The Sisters establish the School as a proprietary limited company and a Council is formed, with Archdeacon Stanley Moss appointed as the first Chair. The Sisters announce their intention to withdraw from the School, and a policy of co-education is adopted.

By the 1970s, St Michael’s is beginning to struggle. The School faces financial deficits almost every year, not least because of the Boarding House, which is now consistently running at a loss. The decision is made to close the Boarding House in 1974 although, in the face of parental opposition the closure is delayed until 1975.

The Sisters no longer feel they have sufficient numbers to continue to administer the School. This leads to undoubtedly the biggest changes at St Michael’s since its establishment.

In 1972, the Sisters establish the School as a proprietary limited company, St Michael’s Church of England Girls Grammar School, and invite distinguished individuals to form a Council. It is stipulated that the Archbishop and the Sister Provincial must be members and that the Chair must be a priest. Sister Audrey, in many ways, the architect of the transition, invites Archdeacon Stanley Moss to become the first Chair.

The Council meets for the first time in 1973, and in 1974 the Sisters announce their intention to withdraw from the School completely, although they continue to have a presence in 1975.

The Council begins discussions, possibly instigated by Sister Audrey, about the desirability of co-education. The discussions continue for a number of years before the Council finally adopts a policy of co-education for the Junior Years in 1977.

Mrs Margaret Thomas oversees the initial transition to co-education before tendering her resignation in 1979 as she felt the School was ready for new leadership.

Sister Audrey's vision

An innovator with a strong sense of good governance, Sister Audrey uses her role to drive efforts in establishing a ‘properly constituted’ and independent School Council, alongside the Archbishop. Consequently, St Michael’s Church of England Girls Grammar School Pty Ltd is established in 1972 to manage the School. Sister Audrey becomes a member of the first Council. The School’s land and buildings remain the property of the Community’s holding company, the Company of the Sisters of the Church. According to the Council’s charter, the Chair had to be a priest. Audrey approaches Archdeacon Stanley Moss. In a 1996 interview, Sister Audrey said she believed Stanley Moss had “the intellectual and administrative ability and spirituality necessary to work with the Sisters”.

Sparked by a parent’s suggestion, Audrey puts forward to the new Council the idea that the School might become co-educational with Moss’s support. In 1974, a co-education subcommittee is established, and the School embarks on its co-educational journey.

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Sister Audrey's vision
Honorary Frances Newson

Frances Newson was a student at St Michael’s from 1921 to 1925. She was Senior Running Champion in 1922 and in 1925, was the Tennis Champion and Head Prefect.

Frances returned to St Michael’s to teach and, except for two short breaks, was Sports Mistress at St Michael’s for 46 years, from 1926 to 1972.

Frances bravely entered the Australian Women’s Army Service during World War II and held the rank of Captain in 1945.

In 1973, the School’s sports oval is named in honour of former Sports Mistress Frances Newson.

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Honorary Frances Newson

1960s

The 1960s bring empowerment, polarisation and liberation, and is an important decade for political, social and cultural revolution. The Vietnam War begins, Civil Rights movements take place around the world, The Beatles are an international phenomenon and humans land on the moon. At the School, there are changes in curriculum, leadership, and development of the campus.

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1960s

The 1960s brings sweeping social, political and technological change across the globe and while the values and life of the School remain essentially the same, St Michael’s is becoming increasingly conscious of the growing demands for educating girls to university entrance. The Sisters continue to expand and improve School facilities, and Sister Scholastica becomes Principal.

The 1960s bring a host of changes to the Order and to the School. The Sisters are permitted to eat in public during special events and form friendships with their peers. Boarders no longer wear blue veils to Chapel and the School’s choristers no longer wear grey and black veils on special feast days. Bells, incense, confession and confirmation are no longer as prominent in religious observance for girls at the School.

There are also significant changes to the curriculum with the introduction of Economics and the ‘New Maths’. The 1960s also bring radical changes to student life and teaching practice. Emphasis shifts from academic competition and specialisation to experimentation, individual enquiry and reducing the formality between teachers and their students.

The Sisters continue the expansion of the School and the improvement of facilities despite financial difficulties. Properties 24, 26 and 28 Redan Street are purchased and a new Senior School constructed. The work is made possible by an ambitious fundraising campaign conducted by Sister Scholastica under the banner ‘Give for the Love of Mike’. The campaign exceeds its target in just a few short months. The new building is opened by the Archbishop of Melbourne, Sir Frank Woods, in 1967.

Leadership at the School is quite fluid during this period. Sister Scholastica (pictured second from right) becomes Principal, the last Sister to hold this position. Sister Gabrielle also spent some time as Sister in Charge. Mrs Dorothy Benson was appointed Headmistress in 1963 but her sudden death in 1965 leads to the appointment of the long serving Senior Mistress, Miss Margaret Wilks, as Headmistress. As Mrs Margaret Thomas, she is to remain as Headmistress until 1979.

Sister Scholastica

Sister Scholastica, known to the students as ‘Schol’ or ‘Scholly’, was Principal of St Michael’s from 1963 to 1972.

She was recognised as a good listener and a fair judge. Schol approached life fearlessly, whether it be confronting spiders in the boarders’ dorm or organising fundraising events. Sister Scholastica opened the Building Appeal in the 1960s, and carried through the biggest development and building program in the School’s history.

Her passion for mission work in Australia and overseas lead her to finish her career in the Solomon Islands.

The Scholastica building was named in her honour, as too the School’s Learning Management System, SchoL.

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Sister Scholastica

1950s

As the world started to ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and watch television, Australia enjoyed post-war stability and an economic boom, conditions which allowed for an ambitious new migration program incentivising non-British settlers to migrate to Australia. The School was able to further develop down Redan Street.

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1950s

The post-war era for St Michael’s is one of reassuring stability. St Michael’s students welcome Queen Elizabeth II to Australia and are excited to hear news of classmate Faith Leech at the 1956 Olympic Games. Redevelopment work continues at St Michael’s, with the purchase of additional buildings on Redan Street.

Building and development work at the School dominate much of the decade with purchases of 14 and 20 Redan Street and their subsequent redevelopment or demolition to make way for sporting grounds.

Around 100 girls are involved in the welcome ceremony for the Queen’s visit to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. When the Queen travels down Chapel Street, a special dais is erected and the whole school lines the street to see her pass by.

The Olympic Games of 1956 is also a cause for excitement, especially as Faith Leech, a St Michael’s student, was a member of the swimming team. Faith won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay and an individual bronze medal in the 400 metre freestyle.

St Michael’s students continue to distinguish themselves in many fields, including Sport (pictured) and Music. One gifted student and pianist Margaret Herm won an entrance exhibition to the Conservatorium at the University of Melbourne, as well as the Lady Turner Prize for Piano.

Queen Elizabeth visits Chapel St

In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II visits Melbourne and travels down Chapel Street. To welcome Her Majesty, the School erects a special stand and the whole School watches on as she passes by.

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Queen Elizabeth visits Chapel St
First Dinner Dance

During the 50s, cadets from the Air Force Academy were often invited to partner with the girls at dancing classes under the watchful eye of parent chaperones. In 1959, the School Dinner Dance replaced the Debutante Ball. Girls were allowed to partner with their brothers, cousins and family friends.

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First Dinner Dance

1940s

With Australia’s northern coast under bombardment and the threat of invasion becoming more real, the Sisters decide to evacuate some of the St Michael’s girls to the country locations of Wandin and Killara.

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1940s

The effects of World War II are felt by students, teachers and the broader community. Many of the girls are personally impacted, as family members go off to serve. The School’s Sportsmistress, Miss Frances Newson, also joins the Australian Women’s Army as a Captain. In 1945, St Michael’s Golden Jubilee is celebrated and the war comes to an end.

The impact of World War II become evident when the St Agnes house for boarders is commandeered by Allied High Command in 1942. This necessitates the evacuation of the boarders, with the Junior Years going to Killara and the Senior Years going to Wandin. Their absence is comparatively short and they return to St Kilda by 1943. The girls also regularly participate in Air Raid Precautions practice after the bombing of Darwin.

The war also leads to high staff turnover and top quality teachers are in high demand. The School’s own Sports Mistress, Miss Frances Newson, joins the Australian Women’s Army Service as a Captain. The shortage of qualified staff, especially Maths and Science teachers, forces the Sisters to put aside their reservations and employ male teachers for the first time.

Many of the girls are also personally impacted by the war with family members going off to serve. Inevitably some do not return. There is also an influx of students from overseas, especially after the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore, with displaced families temporarily relocating to Australia.

St Michael’s Golden Jubilee at St Kilda Town Hall coincides with the end of the war, so there was much to celebrate.

The suburb of St Kilda began to decline in the late 1940s. The Sisters contemplate moving the school to a larger site out of the suburb, but financially it proved impossible. However, the downturn in property prices does allow the Sisters to purchase buildings located along Redan Street and Cintra Avenue at reduced prices.

Majorie McQuade – Olympic Baby

Thirteen year old student, Majorie McQuade, reported in the newspaper as ‘Australia’s Olympic Baby’, competed at the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London. The talented youngster then went on to win three gold medals at the British Empire Games, as well as two gold medals in the 4 x 110 yard freestyle relay and 3 x 110 yard medley relay.

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Majorie McQuade – Olympic Baby
School trip to Heron Island

School trips were an exciting time for students as a break from the usual discipline and order of School life. In 1941, the girls embarked on a trip to Heron Island, gathering shells and playing in the sea. The moment was captured by the Queensland Tourist Bureau as part of a promotional campaign.

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School trip to Heron Island

1930s

Even though the euphoria of the Jazz Age dissolved into worldwide economic depression, the 1930s is a decade of growth and optimism for St Michael’s Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, as it was then known.

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1930s

Sadly, Sister Bridget, who had been Sister in Charge from 1895 to 1932, dies in 1937, following her retirement five years earlier. The School community mourns her passing, prompting a fundraising initiative in her memory.

The 1930s see considerable change at St Michael’s. In 1930 the School purchased Oberwyl School in nearby Burnett Street and begin operating it as a primary branch of the School with 47 students. However, it does not prove sustainable and the Oberwyl campus is closed in 1935, with a kindergarten opening on the main campus instead.

The School proudly opens a new science laboratory in 1931, complete with gas taps, sinks, specimen cupboards, examination benches and a myriad of modern scientific equipment which made it the envy of many other schools. While Science would continue to have a strong emphasis, alternatives to Intermediate and Leaving courses were explored and a new Domestic Arts department introduced.

In 1932, Sister Bridget, the last remaining Sister at the School of those who embarked in 1882, retires. She dies in 1937. As a much loved figure, the School population mourns her passing and instigates a fundraising drive in her memory. The funds raised enable the School to purchase two properties on Marlton Crescent which became known as St Agnes and St Faith.

After working at the School as a teacher since the early 1900s, May Vicars Foote was formally asked to share in the government of the School and is referred to as Headmistress – effectively the first lay Headmistress.

This decade, the first school orchestra is formed, enrolment numbers increase and students achieve excellent academic results, with one recent St Michael’s graduate achieving the first American university scholarship to an Australian post-graduate student. The students also continue producing plays and musicals (pictured).

As the 1930s progress so did the School uniforms. Red and white pinstripes replace the plain navy tunic and summer uniforms of dark blue, pale blue and white check are introduced.

The early stages of the Second World War had little effect on the schools routine and preoccupations, and by 1939, enrolment numbers surpass 300 boarders.

Sister Bridget

For almost 40 years, Sister Bridget led house activities and community life, inspiring the development of a warm and cheerful atmosphere at the School. Sister Bridget was an intelligent and occasionally stubborn woman, with great powers of organisation. She passed away in 1937 and according to her obituary in Wagga’s Daily Advertiser, “her teaching was always most definite and interesting. She made the dry bones of doctrine live for the smallest children, as well as for the older people, who loved her lessons.”

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Sister Bridget
Diet and dress during the Depression

During the depression, the Sisters advocated austerity in diet and in dress. Sister Bridget announced that girls should not eat “expensive sweets when toffee was just as nice”. Nor should they purchase new dresses “when an old one would do.”

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Diet and dress during the Depression

1920s

Despite the excesses of the ‘Roaring Twenties’, the values of the Community of the Sisters of the Church prove attractive to parents of girls in the St Kilda area as well those from country Victoria who seek to take advantage of the School’s boarding facilities.

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1920s

The School celebrates its 25th Anniversary. The St Michael’s community is strengthened with the introduction of the Mothers’ and Fathers’ Committees. A new School flag was implemented and the House system was established. With enrolments continuing to grow, so does the need for classroom facilities. In 1924, the new Scholastica building opens its doors.

The year 1920 is a special year as the School commemorated its 25th anniversary. The School community is strengthened during this period by the formation of first a Mothers’ Committee and then a Fathers’ Committee. A new School flag is adopted and a second version of the School song published. In 1922, the House system is established.

Growing numbers of enrolments and more stringent conditions for school facilities result in the need for new classrooms and a new school building (now Scholastica), which opens in 1924.

Sport continues to be a big part of life at St Michael’s, including the awarding of sporting shields (pictured). The School wins the inaugural Challenge Cup of the newly formed Church School Sports Association. The girls also take part in an inter-school skiing competition at Mt Kosciuszko.

A clear routine is established for the boarders and with the assistance of the Old Girls’ Glee Club, the boarders are able to establish their own reading room.

The Sisters strongly support the involvement of boys in school dances, a subject discussed at some length at the Head Mistresses Association. The first ‘mixed’ prefects dance is held at St Michael’s in 1925.

It was not all good news in the 1920s, as early in the decade the School is forced to close temporarily due to the Scarlet Fever epidemic.

Conduct & Appearance

Plays, concerts, recitals and physical culture that were performed by both the staff and students, attracted media by the local press. In 1925, Dean Hart’s speech is reported in The Age, titled ‘The Modern Girl’. Dean sympathised with the girls who must feel downhearted to be told so often they were using too much slang and mixing too much with the boys; but would remind them that similar sentiments were expressed 100 years ago about the modern girl then. Girls should be able to take their place in the world, and it was gratifying to notice the interest they were showing in commercial and professional walks of life. He firmly considered that women should enter into politics.

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Conduct & Appearance
Challenge Cup

In 1920, Janet Robson, Captain of Sports, accepted for St Michael’s the inaugural Challenge Cup from Lady Helen Munro Ferguson. “Her ladyship borrowed rhetoric once considered suitable only for boys and soldiers, in her speech congratulating the girls on their ability, chivalry and good sporting spirit.”

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Challenge Cup
Amateur Dramatic Society

In 1928, St Michael’s girls dressed as ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and hand maidens and took part in an ‘Egyptian Dance’ at the Missionary Pageant. Continuing on throughout the years, St Michael’s Amateur Dramatic Society (SMADS) staged a teenage ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ in 1986.

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Amateur Dramatic Society
St Kilda's history

St Kilda has long been a place of promenades, boulevards, sea breezes and handsome public gardens. By the 1920s, the suburb was well established as a popular seaside resort, a leading destination for picnickers and bathers, day-trippers and pleasure-seekers. St Kilda was something between a Mediterranean-style resort and Melbourne’s Coney Island. The luckiest visitors stayed at grand hotels such as the George and Esplanade, or guesthouses with captivating names such as Mandalay and Majestic Mansions.

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St Kilda's history

1910s

In the 1910s, the world lurches into the First World War. The war tests Australia's national pride and newly established independence however at St Michael's, life remains relatively unchanged.

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1910s

In 1917, the School becomes St Michael’s Church of England Girls Grammar School. New courses are introduced, including the first comprehensive commercial courses for girls, comprising Bookeeping and Typing. Sport becomes a significant part of the student experience and culture. In 1918, St Michael’s celebrates 150 student enrolments.

The name St Michael’s Collegiate Girls’ School begins to be widely used early in the decade. However, in 1917 the Anglican Church grants approval for the School to become St Michael’s Church of England Girls Grammar School.

Always open to innovation, St Michael’s introduces the first comprehensive commercial course for girls, including Bookkeeping and Typing. The School also introduces Botany and Physiology at the Junior and Senior levels, with other specialised branches of Science to follow. The first St Michael’s scholarship is offered in 1916.

A passion for sport quickly forms an indispensable part of the student experience and school culture, and St Michael’s students soon become a sporting force to be reckoned with.

The girls at St Michael’s manage to raise enough funds to establish the first asphalt tennis court and form a Tennis Club. Basketball (now known as Netball) also becomes popular at the School.

The School’s first Sports Day is held in 1917 with St Michael’s subsequently participating in inter-school competitions. In 1919 the School joins the Girls’ Public School Sports’ Association.

By 1918 the School celebrates the milestone of 150 students.

In 1919, the School is forced to close temporarily because of the Spanish Flu epidemic which cost millions of lives around the world.

SMOG Club

In 1910, the first meeting of the St Michael’s Old Girls’ (SMOG) Club was held.

The tradition of engaging former students with the St Michael’s community has continued to this day, with our Old Michaelian (OM) community and Old Michaelian Association Committee (OMAC) contributing greatly to life at the School.

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SMOG Club

1900s

The new century brings immediate changes to Melbourne and Australia. Queen Victoria dies and the Australian Colonies become a federation of States. A sense of independence permeates the new nation and our School begins to grow and establish a reputation as a suitable school for girls.

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1900s

Sadly, the 1900s begin with the death of Mother Emily, the founder of the Community of the Sisters of the Church. The School changes its name to the Collegiate School for Girls, expanding its offering to sub-primary and secondary School years. A boarding house is established in 1904 and in 1909, Bishops Hall is built to cater for the growing number of students.

The School adopts a new name, the Collegiate School for Girls, and two students sit the Matriculation exam. In 1908 the School is registered as ‘School 818’, catering for sub-primary, primary and secondary school years. May Vicars Foote is the School’s only registered secondary teacher.

A boarding house is established in 1904 to cater for girls from rural areas and the first boarder, Rose Wilcox, is welcomed in early 1905. A new wing is added to Marlton House (pictured) to accommodate the boarding house, providing dormitories, a sleep-out and a large verandah.

The beginning of the 1900s also marks the first element of school uniforms. Students donned hatbands in dark blue, pale blue and pale pink, although this was later changed to crimson and white stripes.

By 1909, enrolments reach 101 and a ‘Century Social’ was held to celebrate. To cater for the growing numbers, Bishops Hall (now the Chapel) is built.

Marlton development

In 1906, Marlton housed five girls as well as a staff consisting of the resident governess (Ethel Faulkner) and two housemaids (Clara and Kate). Sisters Adéle, Bridget, Clarice and Laura also resided there, along with a postulant. Sister Bridget advised that no more boarders would be admitted until the accommodation was improved. A new wing was required, so the Sisters borrowed £600. Much fundraising followed, and the new east wing was soon established.

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Marlton development
The School badge

The School’s first known badge (circa 1901), used the motto Beati Mundo Corde – ‘blessed are the pure in heart’, and included the letters ‘C.E.G.S’. The second major badge used the motto Pro Eccelsia Dei – ‘For the Church of God’, which is the schools motto today, and the motto of the Community of the Sisters of the Church. These badges underwent six major changes over the years. The badge, or Crest as it is known, is an important symbol for the School. It is used around the School grounds, in publications and features on the School uniform.

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The School badge

1890s

The 1890s marked the end of the long economic boom that had sustained Australia's rise and prosperity for many settlers since the gold strikes of the early 1850s. Seven Sisters from the Community of the Sisters of the Church arrived in Australia, from England, to work for the further education of girls. In 1895, The Church of England Day School was opened in Marlton House, St Kilda.

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1890s

The Community of the Sisters continue to grow their network of schools across Australia and the world. In 1895, they open an advanced primary school: The Church of England Day School in Marlton House, St Kilda. Student numbers quickly grow from seven girls to seventy-three, under Sister in Charge, Sister Hannah.

The Community of the Sisters of the Church grow rapidly, as do the number of schools in their care. They soon receive many requests from clergymen in the British colonies to establish schools around the world.

In response, the founder of the Community of the Sisters of the Church, Mother Emily, sends Sisters to Canada, India and Australia. In 1892, seven Sisters, accompanied by a number of Associates and orphans, set sail for Hobart on board the Coptic. The expedition is largely funded by a gift from Sister Faith made possible by an inheritance, and the support of an Associate, Mary Lang. Arriving in 1892 they establish schools first in Hobart, followed by Adelaide, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

In 1895, they open an advanced primary school: The Church of England Day School in Marlton House, St Kilda. They first leased the building but quickly purchased it with the assistance of a gift from Sister Bridget.

Numbers grow from a small group of seven girls to seventy three, under the care of Sister in Charge, Sister Hannah.

With confidence and the ability to teach, ideas are quickly converted into reality and the establishment of a secondary school matriculation class begins in 1897.

The Dogs' Shelter

The kind-hearted sisters worked to establish a lost dogs’ shelter in Marlton Crescent, St Kilda. Sister Rose, the School’s first Principal, was known for her kindness to dogs. An article in The Prahran Telegraph, 26 Sep 1896 wrote: “Lovers of animals will be glad to know that a shelter for lost and starving dogs has been opened in Marlton Crescent, St Kilda. Here homeless dogs are received, and, after being kept for 48 hours to allow of them being claimed, fresh homes are found for them.”

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The Dogs' Shelter

Foundations

Having set up the Church Extension Association in 1864, Emily Ayckbowm establishes and becomes the first novice in the Community of the Sisters of the Church in 1870. On the profession of a second novice in 1873, Emily proclaims herself Reverend Mother.

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Foundations

In 1870, Emily Ayckbowm establishes the Community of the Sisters of the Church. The new Order is dedicated to caring for children less fortunate, with the opening of several large orphanages, as well as a home for sick children. In 1873, the Order opens their first school.

Mother Emily writes, “I must put in the world for some good purpose, something a little beyond sitting still with smooth hair, and a bit of wool work in my hand”.

In England, the Community of the Sisters of the Church opens their first school, St Augustine’s School for Girls and Infants of Kilburn, in 1873. Schools were run in a way that strongly reflected the Sisters’ values. They broadened from primary schools for poor children, to the establishment of secondary schools for ‘a class of girls above those whom we have hitherto taught’.

Audacious Emily

In establishing the Community of the Sisters of the Church, Emily Ayckbowm was considered ambitious and even audacious. The Archbishop of
Canterbury E. W. Benson would later call Emily in his diary ‘the most comically
audacious Mother [Superior or Foundress] in the universe’.

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Audacious Emily

The St Michael's story continues...

We hope you enjoyed learning about St Michael's over the past 125 years, and how our rich history has shaped the School we are today. If you are interested in finding out more about our vibrant community, follow the link below.

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