It was an education you could call “austere”, but from the former Marist Brothers College came graduates who excelled in later life, one former student says.
More than 200 past students, their wives and partners are expected to gather next month in Bendigo for a bumper three day 50th anniversary reunion of three year levels.
Organising committee member Colin Bourke said that in some ways being a student at the school was similar to experiences at today’s education institutions, but in others it was very different.
“You were expected to work and that was forced upon you. When you look at some of the successes that have been enjoyed by the old boys at the school you can see that a lot of that became very beneficial in later life,” he said.
Graduates from the 1967, 68 and 69 year levels have gone on to make their marks in a range of areas including politics, commercial business, public service, journalism, authorship, sports and the arts.
Classrooms were hot in summer, cold in winter and could be filled by 60 students.
This was the era of the Baby Boomers, and by the mid-1960s at least 550 students were crowded into the small McCrae Street campus.
Outside, during recess and the lunch break, boys in their hundreds joined in kick-to-kick on the “impossibly” crowded asphalt grounds, or played basketball, handball and a ball game known as jerks.
It was also a time when boys could get the “cuts” for playing up, meaning the cane.
“Corporal punishment was just a part of schools in general, not just Marist Brothers, so it has to be placed in the proper context,” Mr Bourke said.
“There was virtually no malice in it. You played up and that was what you got.”
Mr Bourke said it was not worth comparing whether education is better or worse today. Too much time had elapsed and society was too different.
The austere quality of education reflected a similar situation at home, he said, with many who grew up in the 1950s and 60s riding or walking everywhere. Very few people were dropped off at school by their parents.
“There was this sort of self reliance that we had. In fact, we went all over Bendigo on a push-bike because that was the way it was in those days,” Mr Bourke said.
The reunion will see three events over three days, with Mr Bourke saying that with so many people coming it was felt they may need more than one event to catch up with everyone.
The event was originally focused on the class that matriculated in 1968, but was broadened to reflect the close relationship between classmates immediately below and above that year.
And while many of the Marist Brothers who taught at the school would not be there, they would be remembered by those at the reunion, organising committee member Joe Griffin said.
“Most of them have sadly passed away, but whose larger-than-life personalities, brilliant teaching and often tough discipline will never be forgotten,” he said.
The reunion events take place on the weekend of November 16-18. To register interest in attending contact:
- Years 1959-67: Joe Griffin, phone 0416 108 950 email@example.com
- Years 1960-68: Colin Bourke, phone 0418 561 856 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Years 1961-69: Len Rodda 0419 534 196 email@example.com
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.