School built to honour war dead turns 100 on Anzac Day

The Riverina town of Hay today remembers the fallen and commemorates a school centenary on a historically important day. Vivienne Jones reports.

A photo of a school from 1923 and today with students out the front A photo of a school from 1923 and today with students out the front
Image: Then and now: Hay War Memorial High School turns 100 today.

At the heart of any rural town is its school and for the community of Hay today marks 100 years since the high school opened and became the town’s war memorial.

While the day will be filled with remembrance services for Anzac Day, Hay War Memorial High School will also mark its centenary since being officially opened by the then Minister for Education, Albert Bruntnell, on April 25, 1923.

The past three days have been filled with former and current staff, students and families celebrating the school’s history and its importance to the community.

Principal Yvan Chambers said it was wonderful to see former students and staff reconnect and share memories of their time at Hay War Memorial High School.

“It really shows our current students that the friendships and memories they make while here are for a lifetime,” he said.

The high school began with a headmaster and six teachers educating 123 students.

A century later and the school staff has grown to include a principal, deputy principal, four head teachers, 17 teachers and 14 administrative and support staff overseeing the education of 149 students.

The town is also celebrating the centenary of the war memorial – the high school where all the town’s remembrance services are held.

“That is what makes our school so special – everything we do is to honour those who have served by educating our next generation,” Mr Chambers said.

The centenary celebrations began with a back-to-school themed trivia night at the Hay Services Club on Saturday night.

The celebrations continued on Sunday night with the HWMHS Ex-Students Association dinner before a free breakfast and centenary assembly on Monday, marking the first day of Term 2, 2023.

“While the official birthday is on Anzac Day, we celebrated with a welcome assembly on Monday with our current and former students and staff, followed by an open day for families to come through the school grounds,” Mr Chambers said.

He said the school had been preparing for the centenary for three years, liaising with Defence officials on the history and logistics of the centenary celebrations.

A highlight today will be an Air Force flyover and Defence members visiting the war memorial.

A dedicated school museum is housed within the original school hall to preserve the history of the school and to tell the stories of servicemen and women from the Hay area.

The museum holds old war photographs, school blazers and badges as well as honour boards and World War I medals.

  • 175 years
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