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Proud history will help to shape brave new world

Air raid shelters on the oval, a young boy’s chivalrous gesture that lead to a healthy bequeathment, an earthquake that shook the buildings’ very foundations – and a commitment to strong values that absolutely nothing could jolt over a rich and rewarding 170-year journey.
These are just some of the moments that leap off the pages of St Andrew’s School’s history, an Adelaide educational institution that opened its doors to its very first students on 23 September 1850.

That’s just 14 years after Governor Hindmarsh strode ashore at Glenelg so it is fair to say that we have played an enormous role in educating South Australia’s young boys and girls and, in the process, giving an impressive list of Olympians, academics, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and religious and political leaders a great start to their future endeavours of shaping society for the better.

As history tells us, the school sprang from the seed sown at an 1848 dinner to celebrate the consecration of the nearby St Andrew’s Church. Over the meal, someone wondered aloud how wonderful it would be if the next meaningful project was a school to provide elementary education for “children of the industrial classes within the principles of the teachings of the Church of England.”

The idea was warmly embraced by the ladies and gentlemen of the day and a year later, ground had been broken.

It’s hard to believe that the tiny original school building that emerged as reward for their hard work – and which still stands on the campus today – was meant to house 200 students!

How times have changed, how our campus has evolved to offer today’s learners the very best facilities and educators they could wish for, anywhere in the country.

Along the way, that little school building has witnessed a great deal. It saw the arrival from England in the late 1800s of Archdeacon and Lady Dove, who immediately set about convincing the church to better support the school and improve the teachers’ wages.

It was there when Principal Miss Porter presided over an era characterised by the hardships of World War I and the Great Depression. A formidable figure, she is credited with initiating fundraising drives – like the St Andrew’s Fair and Ball – that brought the community and friends together who continue to play a vital role in the school to this day.

Miss Porter is honoured for her contributions, which also include being a stickler when it came to English language usage, demanding nothing but the Queen’s English in both written and spoken form, with the Lavinia Porter Building bearing her name.

Those familiar with the campus will know that other buildings bear the names of the much-loved Rev Eggleton and a certain Mrs Habich (more of her later) but might not be aware that during World War II, air raid drills were practiced, air raid shelters were established on the oval and community drives raised fund for first aid supplies.

Our future focus on education and global thinking also saw us lead the way as one of the first International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in the country back in the 1990s and we offer one of the most extensive primary school education programs available anywhere in the world.

But what of Mrs Habich?

Well, she was so impressed when, while on a journey into the city one day, a young St Andrew’s School boy offered her his seat on a crowded bus that, when she died in 1989, she left the school a not insignificant $400,000!

That’s a fitting note on which to close as it truly reflects our strong values of instilling in our children a desire to lead a good and rewarding life, one that is connected and community driven.

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  • St Andrew’s School is a South Australian independent, co-educational specialist primary school providing excellence in education from playgroup through to early years and on to Year 7. Principal Jackie Becher – an International Baccalaureate School – UNESCO Associated School.