With a culturally rich background, the West End Kindergarten is eagerly celebrating its 100-year anniversary during 2013.
Situated on Corbett Street off Boundary, the kindergarten first opened in 1913. Today, it is run by Skye Goldney and Marina Combis, with help from teaching assistant Petra Van Zutphen and visiting music teacher Cavel McIntyre. Hundreds of local children have attended the kindergarten over the years and with such a long history, it is not uncommon to have students whose parents also attended when they were young.
“The original kindergarten was a cottage out the front,” says Skye, “but they got rid of that because the community grew, and they needed a new space, so this was built in 1922. It’s always been a kindergarten.”
Apart from their beautiful heritage building, the kindergarten has two outdoor play areas. “We are so lucky to have this beautiful environment and a very large space for the amount of children that we have,” says Skye. “A lot of the children here live in units,” adds Marina, “They don’t have access to big backyards to play. They’re given that opportunity here to have such a large outdoor open space.”
Throughout its history, the kindergarten has always been very multicultural with children from diverse backgrounds. “That’s always what West End has been about,” says Skye, “And always about a strong sense of community. That’s how I think this evolved, because they knew they had that need in the community, so it started out really small and has grown into what it is today.”
When it comes to the day-to-day activities at the kindergarten, music, art and the environment are important parts of the program. “The children use art to express their thoughts and ideas, and we explore different materials and different mediums,” says Marina. “Their skills really develop throughout the year.”
“There is a strong push in the West End community in regards to sustainability and the environment, so that does come through in the curriculum,” says Skye, “We also have a strong indigenous focus too … it’s embedded in our curriculum rather than just a tokenistic approach, so that’s a really strong theme for us as well.”
The kindergarten also has an early childhood music specialist, Cavel McIntyre, who does classes with the children every week. “Not every kindy has a visiting music specialist,” says Marina. “I think that sets us apart. We offer something a little bit unique.”
Skye and Marina are hoping to mark the kindergarten’s 100-year milestone with a big music event during the year. “We do have an annual music event every year that showcases local talent and the talent of parents,” says Marina, “so maybe doing that on a bigger scale … maybe showcasing the history, inviting past pupils. I guess it could be a bit of a celebration and a reunion.”
The West End Kindergarten would love to hear from past pupils who may have stories or old photos to share that could be used as part of their 100-year anniversary celebrations. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words by Leah Carri | Images by Darlia Argyris