First published with The Courier –

Thursday was a special day for Dana Street Primary School prep pupils Ava and Connor.

It was their first day at primary school, a day which marked Dana Street Primary School’s 160th anniversary.

Another pupil was excited to blow out a candle on the cake after sharing her birthday with the school on Thursday.

Grade 6 pupils leader Helena said she was excited about speaking at the anniversary ceremony.

“I was always really proud I went to the oldest school in Ballarat,” she said.

Another Grade 6 pupil Lucy said she felt special about being a leader at the time of the anniversary.

A celebration assembly was held Friday morning.

Dana Street Primary School principal Paul Nolan said the anniversary was an opportunity to celebrate 160 years of education in Ballarat.

“The anniversary is not just about our school.

“The school has been used for various other educational purposes over the years including the Ballarat Teachers College and Ballarat High School.”

Mr Nolan said it was important to preserve the school’s historical buildings.

“The buildings here take a lot of work. But they are very unique.

“We have managed to turn the school into a modern learning environment but also preserve the historical integrity of the buildings.

“It’s important for our children and the community to value the history of education in our town.”

Mr Nolan said Dana Street is an iconic school, adding 160 years was a long time in Ballarat’s history.

Prominent historical figures Peter Lalor, Thomas Curnow, James Oddie, and Nathan Spielvogel all have connections with Dana Street.

Mr Nolan said there were so many stories from 160 years of the school, but it’s multiculturalism had always excited him.

The 1850s gold rush brought families from across the world to the school.

“There has been a continuous thread of multiculturalism throughout the 160 years. I think that is a very special thing in a place like Ballarat,” Mr Nolan said.

The number of pupils at the school has fluctuated over it’s 160 years, from over 1000 in 1877 to about 250 at present.

Mr Nolan said it was an intimate school setting.

“It’s like a little country school stuck right in the middle of town,” he said.

Parent Dave Hall has two children at Dana Street Primary School. “Ballarat is a historic town and having a school this old is quite significant,” he said.

Celebrations at the school will continue throughout the year.