Kyilla celebrates its 75th

Kyilla celebrates its 75th

KYILLA Primary School marks its 75th anniversary with an open day on October 24 to showcase its history.

There’ll be displays and photos charting the key events, and a year 6 play will explore key moments such as the 1951 crash of a tiger moth plane just metres from the school fence. 

There were plans for a school on the site since 1928, and nearby houses were advertised for sale as being conveniently located to a school that had yet to be built.

In 1941 the growing population of young families in the North Perth renewed the calls for a school, but the raging World War had created shortages of materials and labour, so a plan was hatched to move an existing jarrah school room from Herne Hill.

Perth city council and residents objected as the area had been designated “brick only” and timber buildings were forbidden, and a committed committee of parents finally convinced the education department to build a new school in 1944.

Infants’ school

It opened in February 1945 as “Selkirk Street Infants’ School” with two teachers and 74 students. It quickly expanded with more buildings in 1946, and by then the name “Kyilla” was being used in the press. The name is a bit of a mystery: the state Heritage Council notes the word was well known in the 1930s and 40s because of the “giant 21-seater inter-capital airliner” named Kyilla. 

The plane visited Perth in 1937 to a huge reception at Maylands aerodrome, and a crowd of 5,000 broke down the barriers to get closer to it. There’s also an unconfirmed idea that Kyilla was an Aboriginal word meaning ‘north’. 

The school’s been helped with research by Vincent local history centre’s Susanna Iuliano, and many local and national trends and events imprinted on the school’s history: 

 • 1955 many children were absent in term three due to an outbreak of measles, mumps and chicken pox; 

• 1972 the latrines were replaced with actual toilets; 

• 1974 the school reflected the area’s rich cultural mix, with children of 21 different nationalities attending; 

• 1988 the school adopted the boomerang as its logo and introduced the motto “To See and to Understand”:

• 2015 it became an independent school, and its numbers have grown from 74 students to more than 380 across the kindie, pre-primary and primary grades. 

The open day is on October 24 from 10am to 2pm at 4 Selkirk Street North Perth. 

Former teacher Ruth Leembruggen was in her 20s back in 1956 and is hoping to catch up with some past students.

By DAVID BELL

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