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The History of St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary School

 

In 1936 Archbishop Justin Simmonds became Archbishop of Hobart and he proposed the building of a school in Newstead.  He invited the Sisters of St Joseph to operate this school. The Sisters opened the school in 1938 with an enrolment of fifteen pupils, and Sr Mary Camillus was the Principal.

In 1948 secondary classes commenced and the school continued to grow. The need to provide boarding accommodation became apparent and the property next to the school was purchased and in 1957. Chelsea Grove became home to girls from as far away as Flinders and King Islands.

St Thomas More’s continued to grow, providing education for girls through to Grade 12. Young boys transferred from St Thomas Mores to St Patrick’s College for the remainder of their primary and secondary education.

In 1978 St Thomas More’s amalgamated with Sacred Heart College to form Marian College. This College offered education for Catholic girls in both primary and secondary classes on the two campuses. During this period Marian College, Newstead Campus, became a pioneer school for Catholic Kindergartens. Marian College continued until 1983.

1984 saw a dramatic change to Launceston Catholic education. The secondary schools of Marian College and St Patrick’s College amalgamated to provide a Co-educational College for Launceston Catholic students.

At this time St Thomas More’s and Sacred Heart School became separate primary schools once again. In 1984 the first lay Principal of St Thomas Mores was appointed. The Sisters of St Joseph, now concentrating on adult faith formation, ceased to operate Chelsea Grove as a Boarding School. This building is now the Emmanuel Centre offering opportunities for spiritual growth for adults.

From 1984 – 2011 St Thomas More’s grew to become a co-educational single stream school catering for students from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Although the original building still houses three classrooms, part of this building has been refurbished to accommodate offices and staff facilities. Another four new classrooms have been added to the original building. The building now used as a hall by the school was the original church opened by Monsignor Cullen in 1937.  

In 2007, after careful consideration the School Board of Management and the Principal recommended to the Catholic Education Office to increase the enrolments commencing in 2008. It was agreed that the school would take in additional enrolments in Kindergarten. From 2011 composite classes were initiated to cater for the increase in students.  In the long term this would see the school grow from approximately 225 students with 8 class groups in 2007 to approximately 340 students with 13 class groupings by 2015.

In late 2007 we began a significant consultation phase with our school community to enable the development of a Master Plan. The Master Planning Committee had stakeholder representation from all sectors of our community. The Master Plan is designed to inform all aspects of building development in light of the student population growth of our school. The Master Plan was completed in 2009.

In May of 2009  an intensive building program began that was the first of it’s kind at the school since the initial building in 1938. The building program was to include a three-stage development commencing with refurbishing our Early Childhood General Learning Areas (ECE GLA’s), construction of a Multi-Purpose Hall and Amenities block. The first stage was completed in May 2010.  

In November of 2010 Stages 2 and 3 commenced. These included refurbishment of Grades 3-6, Library and Administration. Works were completed in August of 2011.

The outdoor landscaping was completed by October 2013.  These areas were the entrance from Campbell Street, the entrance off Abbott Street, the outdoor learning area outside Prep and the outdoor entertaining/vegetable garden area outside the Josephite Hall.

The Josephite tradition of treasuring every single child continues to be very much valued and practised at St Thomas More’s School today.

In 2013 St Thomas More’s celebrated the  75th Anniversary of the establishment of St Thomas More’s by the Sisters of St Joseph in 1938.  This event was celebrated with the planting of a tree beneath which is a time capsule, to be opened in 2038.  An open weekend, showcased many archived photographs, documents and original school items from the past.  The attendance over the weekend was magnificent.  A Mass followed by a supper in the Josephite Hall completed a most memorable weekend.
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