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St Joseph's School

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St Joseph’s School History

The first St Joseph’s School was established in the Kalgoorlie Goldfields in 1897, at Kamballie by three Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Ursula, Martha and Magdalen) sent here by Bishop Gibney. However, the present St Joseph’s School traces its origins back to the All Hallows School which commenced operation in Wittenoom Street, Boulder in 1898 and was also founded by these same Sisters.

The relocation of St Joseph’s School from Wittenoom Street to the Burt Street site in 1996 was the third rebuild of the school in its one hundred year history, the school having been destroyed twice by cyclones in 1903 and 1928. Although the children were in the building when it was totally destroyed by the cyclone in 1903, remarkably none of them were injured. When the school was destroyed a second time in 1928, a former state school building in Brookman Street was used for 20 years until 1948 when a brick building was constructed back on the Wittenoom Street site. This building and the surrounding playground was auctioned and sold in 1995, necessitating the re-building of the school on the present site. St Joseph’s School has been well served during its 100 year history by the Sisters of St Joseph. For the majority of the school’s history the Sisters have provided the Principal and entire staff of St Joseph’s Boulder.

A practical recognition of the tradition of the Josephites in the school has been made by naming the various buildings at the new school after the Josephite Sisters.

MacKillop Block has been named after Blessed Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first Saint, and the founder of the Josephite Order who, in her living of the Gospel, recognised and valued the human dignity of each person. 

Ursula Block is named after Sister Ursula (Mary) Tynan, who led the first Josephite foundation to the West. Sister Ursula arrived in Geraldton in 1887 and moved to Northampton in 1888 to start a school there. With the decline in mining in Northampton, Ursula and two other sisters were sent by Bishop Gibney to the Kalgoorlie Goldfields, arriving by train in 1897. Ursula started a school at Kamballie, in February of that same year. The school in Wittenoom Street was started by Ursula the following year and she played a hand in setting up a school at Brown Hill in 1899. She was continually trying to improve the conditions for the Sisters and was responsible for organising the funds needed for the building of the convent in Moran Street. Ursula became ill and was in hospital in Kalgoorlie at the time the new convent was blessed and opened in September 1904, dying in hospital in October of that year.

Ursula, the first Principal of our school, was also the first Sister of St Joseph to be buried in Kalgoorlie.  She continues to be a wonderful example of the selflessness, determination and enthusiasm of the Josephites in the face of adversity that has been present in our school from the beginning.

Celsus Block: These buildings were brought across from the Wittenoom Street site and were originally dedicated to Sister Celsus in 1992 at the opening of the Pre Primary. Sister Celsus was Principal and Convent Supervisor from 1967 – 1972, at a time when the school offered education from Year 1 - 10. Sister Celsus returned to the Goldfields in 1980 and taught at Prendiville for four years. In 1986 Sister Celsus returned again as a home school Liaison Officer at John Paul College. Her gentleness, dedication, enthusiasm and respect for each person provide a Christian example for our students.  Sr Celsus passed away in 2005.

Wittenoom Library: In 2010 the new library technology block was opened, funded by the Federal Government Building the Education Revolution money.  The Wittenoom Library was named after the old Wittenoom Street School at which three generations of pupils studied in the past.

Kamballie Grandstand: In 2010, funded by the Federal Government Building the Education Revolution grant, the school doubled the size of its old assembly area and created a large undercover area.  Attached to this area is a modern multipurpose room and toilet facilities. The name Kamballie Grandstand again is linked to the Sisters of Saint Joseph’s as Kamballie was the site of the old straight of the Boulder Race Course.  In fact, the children are called to school each day with a bell which came from the old Wittenoom Street school. They in turn were gifted it from the Boulder Race Course when it closed. This bell was used to start the races.