100 years of state secondary education in Leongatha

June 17th, 2012

February 6th marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of Leongatha Agricultural High School. On that day in 1912 a group of 57 students and three teachers gathered at the Leongatha State School (primary school) then on the corner of Jeffrey Street and Hassett Street. The new high school building had not yet been started so the high school was given a large room at the State school to use for the first year. Mr Arthur Mesley had been appointed as headmaster and he and his family moved to Leongatha to live in January. Arthur Mesley was born and bred in Omeo and he started his teaching career there as a 15 year old. He attended Melbourne Teachers College and then taught at Warrnambool Agricultural High School.

After studying at Dookie Agricultural College Arthur Mesley was appointed to found Leongatha Agricultural High School. The students in the first year came from Leongatha and district and many areas of South Gippsland including Korumburra, Yarram and Mirboo North. The students were
allocated into classes and levels according to their score on the entrance exam rather than age and were mostly over 14 years old.

The curriculum was basically academic with an agricultural stream provided for boys. A farm was established at the school site and Mr Mesley and the students set about making a fine mixed farm designed to teach modern agriculture to the farmers of the future. Other talented students wanted to be
able to attend university and teachers college and they were able to do so in their own community for the first time.

In 1930 the school farm was closed and the word agricultural was removed from the name. From then on Leongatha High School successfully ran until 1989. Leongatha Technical School was established in 1967 and amalgamated with Leongatha High to form Leongatha Secondary College in 1990.
The centenary of state secondary education Leongatha will be celebrated on the weekend of April 28th and 29th this year with a grand reunion.

Everyone with a connection to the three schools over the past 100 years are welcome to come along and enjoy the events. Please register your contacts with the school if you wish to be part of this once in a lifetime celebration.