History

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When the plans of St Mary’s Church were drawn up in the 1920s, a dual role was envisaged: a church for Sundays and other special occasions and a school that would be used on weekdays. It was almost ten years to the day, from the laying of the foundation stone of St Mary's Church, to the school becoming a reality. Bishop Gilroy officiated at the blessing and opening on the 26th January 1936, at which time the first Sisters of St Joseph were welcomed to Berri.

An expansion of facilities to the school took place in 1952 to provide additional classrooms to accommodate a larger number of students. This was in the form of a timber framed building which was placed in line with the original St Mary’s where the bitumen area is now located.

In 1963, the Daughters of Charity took over control of the school while continuing their care of St Catherine's Nursing Home in Coneybeer Street, which had begun in 1961 in the original Hospital building. This arrangement lasted until 1971, when the Sisters of St Joseph once again resumed responsibility for the school.

Major renovations commenced early in 1977. This, in effect, brought the school into the 1980's by providing open space areas, carpeting and air conditioning, thus making the school environment more comfortable for students and for staff. Further renovations of the timber-framed building were carried out in 1983 by a team of volunteers who covered in the large verandah and modernised the kitchen/tuck shop area.

The number of students continued to increase and the school added transportable classrooms to its student accommodation. The first of these saw the installation of a new 'Blunts' transportable which arrived in 1981 and was quickly put to use as a Junior Primary Classroom. This room was divided into two classrooms with the erection of a dividing wall in 1990. The dividing wall was moved in 1999 to allow for a larger Middle Primary Classroom and Office pace for a Reading Recovery Teacher. The second transportable, next to the Playground area, was acquired in June 1989 as the enrolment figures moved to the 100 mark.

The early 1990s saw more upgrading and a major building project begun at the school. With the aid of a very generous Commonwealth Government grant, Our Lady of the River School was expanded by the provision of Administration and Staff areas, two Classrooms and new Toilet facilities. The refurbishing of the St Mary's Building took place at that time and it now houses an Information Technology area and Library as well as a Tuck Shop and Storeroom.

The new building and alterations were officially blessed on November 10th 1991 by Bishop Peter F. De Campo while Mr Chris Holland (DEET) officially opened them on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.

In November 1992, the School Board purchased the house in McIntosh Street which adjoins the schoolyard. This enabled us to use part of the back yard and the large shed for school purposes.  January 1993 saw the arrival of another transportable building which was placed in the eastern corner of the school oval.

In 1995 the Seventh Day Adventist property in McIntosh Street became available and was purchased by the School Board. The building was renamed the Mary MacKillop Building and the main room was used as a Classroom. Another room at the back was used as the Student Support Room and for Instrumental lessons. In 1996 Information Technology was introduced at O.L.O.R. and it is continuing to provide up to date learning and facilities for the children as they prepare for a technological future. At the conclusion of the 1996 school year the Sisters of St Joseph relinquished their involvement at Our Lady of the River School but continued the running of St Catherine's Nursing Home.

In 1998 a further transportable was purchased and placed near the Mary MacKillop Building. Its purpose was to allow classroom space for L.O.T.E. and Music. In 1999 this transportable was utilised as a Junior Primary Classroom. Towards the end of 1998 the property bordering the southern side of the Church was purchased by the School Board and was developed as a hard play area comprising a Netball/ Basketball court and half court Basketball. We are grateful to Mr John Crocker for donating a small parcel of his property to the school in order to allow us to establish a walk way to the hard court area.

In 2000 a Commonwealth Government Grant was obtained which allowed our school community to proceed with the construction of our Stage Two Building project. This resulted in the development of a new Aministration Building, Multi Purpose Room, Parent Room and refurbishment of the old administration block to create two new Classrooms. The project also allowed us to locate all of our relocatable Classrooms in closer proximity to each other which has provided many educational benefits and allowed a large increase in oval space for the children's recess and lunch breaks and structured physical education lessons.

The new buildings and alterations were officially blessed by Bishop Eugene Hurley on October 20th while Mr Peter Cibich, Director of Catholic Education, officially opened them on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. During the ceremony a time capsule was laid near the entrance to the school. The capsule is to be opened during the centenary of the school in 2036. In 2000 a new playground was established, courtesy of the hardworking Parents & Friends, and the double relocatable was given to the Church to be used as a Parish Centre. A significant development was the creation of Our Lady's Garden and the landscaping of the school grounds.

In 2002 we upgraded and relocated the transportable buildings to their present locations. The addition of the veranda and paving has made for a permanent structure for the students to use and enjoy.

The parent body of Our Lady of the River are a very active group with involvement in many school activities and groups. The fundraising efforts of our parents has been outstanding over the years with additional facilities for OLOR being purchased. Purchases since2006 have inlcuded; internal phone system, new computers, assistance with the purchase of the rubber surface for the new playground, our forst interactive whiteboard, portable shades, supported the Rainbow Reading, fridges for student use, library books, sports equipment and cameras for classroom use.

Government assistance in the form of the National Schools Pride Program allowed us to access funds for a new playground in the hardcourt area with a solid shade. Classrooms too had a makeover with the inclusion of interactive whiteboards and soundfield systems.

Stage three of school facilities began in 2009 with a Government Grant (Building the Education Revolution). With a $2,000,000 budget and the voices of our school community the decision to build a multipurpose hall/gym was made.This new facility, opened in early 2011, now serves the our Lady of the River School community as well as the Parish and wider community of Berri.

The beginning of 2010 saw the addition of new computers in the resource centre and also allowed for classroom computers to be updated. Solar panels also became a reality for OLOR in 2010 through the National Solar Schools Program.

We accept the challenge to maintain a school which provides quality education and reflects the love of God in al that we achieve.

 

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