History seeps from the Marist walls

WESTMEAD Hospital might hold the key to the future of medical research in Australia but surrounding the hospital's new buildings is a long and colourful past.

Parramatta Marist High School, Australia's oldest Catholic school, sits proudly just across the road from Westmead's health and medical research precinct.

Father John Therry established the school on Hunter Street, Parramatta, in 1820.

In 1837, the school was moved to the site of the current cathedral. In 1875, the establishment was placed under the care of the Marist Brothers,

The school's chief competitor in cricket, rugby and athletics has been its neighbour The Kings School, which was founded in 1831 and is Australia's oldest independent school.

During the 19th century and into the 20th century the number of students attending the school continued to increase until the school was at capacity.

According to Parramatta Marist High School, to cope with the student numbers, classes had to be taught in the Parish Hall, on verandas, and under an oak tree at the school grounds.

At breaking point, the school relocated to its current home in Westmead in 1966.

High school students transferred immediately but primary students remained at Parramatta until the phasing out of the junior school at the Victoria Road site in 1994.

The teaching methods are cutting-edge.

Brother Patrick Howlett, the current principle, introduced a project-based learning model, as an alternative to paper-based, teacher-led classrooms, in 2008. The school motto is Fortior Ito — Go forth with strength.

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