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Celebrating the many faces of St Mary’s College

A NEW coffee table book honouring the many faces of St Mary’s College has been formally unveiled to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the school.

The book, titled ‘150 Faces of St Mary’s College’, features 150 men and women who have been fully or partially educated at the College during its first 150 years of operation.

Written and researched by St Mary’s College archivist Margaret Rootes, it tells the story of the College through its people, highlighting achievements through personal anecdotes, memories and photographs relevant to their time.

“The people featured in the book are students who went on to make their mark in the world, outstanding staff at the school and amazing volunteers who gave so freely to St Mary’s College,” Mrs Rootes said.

“The volunteers, in particular, are very modest about the part they played in the story of St Mary’s College where, in fact, they have had a profound effect over the decades on the landscape of the College, both physically and metaphorically.”

A former student – and later, a teacher – of the College, Mrs Rootes returned to St Mary’s in 2013 to establish the school’s first Heritage Archive Centre.

Fuelled by a passion for St Mary’s College and a desire to capture its rich and colourful history, she spent three years researching and writing the book, which she describes as a “labour of love.”

“It is all about St Mary’s College, a place in which I am unashamedly fond of and to which I am strongly connected,” Mrs Rootes said.

Among the 150 faces profiled in the book are Australian National University deputy vice-chancellor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, former Australian Senator Christine Milne, first-class cricketer Michael Di Venuto, Australian children’s television personality Patsy Brisco, high profile Tasmanian businessman Michael Kent and State Cinema owner John Kelly.

Integral to the book are the stories of the first archbishop and the nine Presentation Sisters who voyaged from Ireland in 1866 to found St Mary’s College.

The College was opened on its present site on 3 February 1868.

“I could have easily written 5000 faces of the school,” Mrs Rootes said.

“As I researched and wrote, I came to love stumbling upon the many threads which connected one person’s story to another.”

St Mary’s College principal Helen Spencer said the College was “very proud” of this historic record.

“This high-quality publication is a tangible gesture that celebrates the people and stories of St Mary’s College through its history,” she said.

“There was no better candidate than Margaret to endeavour to encapsulate the essence of who we are as a school community.”

Highlights of the College’s milestone year have included a staff reunion, community fun day for St Patrick’s Day and a 150th anniversary gala dinner attended by current and former staff, students and friends of the school.

The anniversary celebrations culminated on 21 October with a Grand Bazaar – a nod to the first fundraising event held at St Mary’s in January 1868, its founding year.

‘150 Faces of St Mary’s College’ can be purchased for $45 through the St Mary’s College office or online at www.smc.tas.edu.au

Caption: Margaret Rootes cutting the commemorative cake. Virginia O’Toole, left, of Lenah Valley, with Caroline Sharpen, of North Sydney.

 

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