Kindy turns 100

• Kids gathered on November 5 to mark their 50th year on the spot and 100 years in operation. Photo by MSP Photography.

HIGHGATE Kindergarten has marked 100 years of operation, and 50 years at its current home.

The kindy was originally named Little Citizens when it opened on Robertson Street in East Perth in October 31, 1919.

In 1969 it relocated half a mile to 4 Broome Street and became Highgate Kindergarten, opened by the lord mayor on November 8.

It’s now part of nearby Highgate Primary School and principal Stephen Ivey invited families along for a photo on November 5 to mark the occasion, while City of Vincent historian Susanna Iuliano dug up news articles from its early days.

It was the third kindy opened by the Kindergarten Union of WA which wanted to turn children into “the best little citizens”.

KUWA’s director Ethel Donnell said at the organisations first annual meeting in 1912 that behind “each game and play is a life principle, and that through them we are preparing the child for the great game of life.

“He is learning self-discipline, self-control, self-respect, self-abnegation… [Francis] Bacon says ‘give me the child, and the state shall have the man.

Self-expression

“We are training the children to be doers, not don’ters, workers not idlers, leaders not followers. Self-expression – doing is the keynote of our work.”

The union’s first premises was a small cottage on Pier Street, which quickly filled to have 45 children enrolled.

“So crowded it is in parts that owing to the house problem in Perth two or three families are often found living in one tiny cottage,” Miss Donnell said in 1912.

She said visitors to the centre might be disappointed not to see the latest technology, but it was by design: “The child is far happier with a toy motor car he has made himself out of a few cardboard boxes, cotton reels, paper and paste, than the most elaborate mechanical toy bought in the toy shop.”

They funded the school with “subscriptions” to the union from 80 members who contributed anywhere from 5s to £10.

Some prominent Perth figures backed KUWA: Winthrop Hackett was vice president, and merchant and philanthropist Alfred Sandover (who the football medal is named after) was on the first committee. Chief justice Edward Stone was first president, and later opened Little Citizens in its first Robertson Street spot.

by DAVID BELL

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