Good Counsel Primary School has an extraordinary history punctuated with natural disasters, fires and the incredible strength and resilience of the local community. Today, the Cassowary Coast school celebrates 120 years of quality education in the tight-knit community of Innisfail.
The Blessing of the Building
On Monday 2 November, 1903, lessons commenced at the newly refurbished Sacred Heart Convent School, as it was known at the time. The building was blessed the Sunday prior by Bishop Murray. The cost of the school building was £900, exclusive of furnishings. The staff of four Good Samaritan Sisters had 42 enrolments and the school grew quickly, requiring dormitory facilities for up to 30 girls and, later, a few boys. Initially only primary grades were taught at the Sacred Heart Convent School but by 1910 the Sisters took on the challenge of High School examinations. Students from around the district were taught singing, piano, painting, cello, violin and the art of speech.
In 1918, a cyclone levelled the Convent and school buildings. Sixteen men were employed to rebuild the school, however there was no break from lessons with students working on the concrete floor while construction took place around them.
On 18 November, 1956, a huge blaze reduced the school to a burned out shell. All administration registers, books and equipment were lost in the fire and the 265 students were temporarily housed in the Johnstone Shire Hall.
Rebuilding and Re-Branding
The new school buildings (Junior classrooms on Rankin St) were blessed and opened on 18 May, 1958. Fire struck the Convent for the second time in October, 1958 with the 11 Sisters and 14 boarders being accommodated by the community until the new Convent was built in late 1960. This building is the current Administration, Library and Theatrette.
In 1975 there was a merging of Marist Brothers College and Sacred Heart School to Good Counsel College and Good Counsel Primary School. Sister Kevin Caldwell led the newly named Primary School under the new motto—Seek, Learn and Serve. The Good Samaritan Motto—IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS (In all things may God be glorified) is still etched on the glass doors of the Administration building.
Many changes have occurred in recent times with the last of the Good Sams working in the school in the early 1990s. The first lay Principal Mr John Walsh (1982-1994) being appointed following Marist Brother Phillip Slattery.
In 2006, Cyclone Larry severely damaged eight Junior Block classrooms. Extensive building projects have been completed over the past 30 years providing students with amazing facilities, resources and an opportunity for a world-class education.
Strength & Support
When reflecting on the history of Good Counsel Primary School, it needs to be acknowledged that the school would not be here today without the generosity and support of the Geraldton/Innisfail community, the dedication of the Good Samaritan Sisters, the Marist Brothers, the hundreds of teachers and the Augustinian and Diocesan Clergy who have continued to provide a Catholic education for our local families for the past 120 years.
May we strive to continue this good work, living by our Good Samaritan Charism values to:
– Welcome others as we would welcome Christ
– Be compassionate to the person in need
– Serve God by being neighbour
Follow the link to find out more about Good Counsel Primary School.