The Mordialloc College Alumni Association has been active in a variety of incarnations since at least 1945.
The 1940s ex-Students’ Association
An Association operated from the late 1940s until around 1965, with continual membership, recruitment and
activities. It is unclear who began this Association, or precisely when or why it was established. Activities during this period included:
- Monthly meetings at St. Nicholas Anglican Church Hall in Mordialloc, and in later years at the School;
- Monthly Card Nights at members’ homes;
- Regular hikes through areas such as Eltham, Warrandyte (open country in those days), Lerderderg Gorge, Werribee Gorge—or snow trips to Donna Buang. A furniture van was often the mode of travelling to and from hiking locations;
- An annual Ball—usually held at the Mordialloc Mechanics Institute Hall—which incidentally, provided temporary accommodation for the school students at the time the school was established in 1924. Later Balls were held in the Mentone City Hall;
- An Annual Christmas Camp involving a mixed group of ex-students going under canvas for a couple of weeks at various holiday locations. Camps were held at Phillip Island, Torquay, Lorne, Warrnambool and Lakes Entrance;
- Annual election of office bearers with the occasional award of Life Memberships;
- Representation of the Association on the School Advisory Council;
- An official Blazer and Badge for Association members;
- Sports teams in local competitions covering Cricket, mixed Tennis teams and a girl’s Hockey team;
- Occasional sports competitions involving ex-students versus current students;
- Associate membership of Youth Hostels Australia with occasional use of their Warrandyte Hostel.
Subsequently, and right up to the present day, those friendships and associations have continued with casual meetings, annual dinners or lunches. Card nights continued with a small group of players until 2013.
The 1980s ex-Students’ Association
There was considerable enthusiasm for resurrecting an ex-Students’ Association in the 1980s. This was done independently of the informal gatherings held by the ex-Students’ Association that started in the 1940s. Largely a commercial operation initiated by a Mr Martin Vink (a non-alumnus), this Association held a number of successful reunions but folded around 2000.
The 2014 Mordialloc College Alumni Association
The present incarnation was prompted largely by the impending centenary of the school in 2024, but its instigation was accidental. A Facebook Group for ex-Students was started in around 2008 and languished for some time with fewer than 20 members. Eberhard Rabich and Martin Davies took it over in 2014 and posted some photos. Numbers dramatically increased, and by the end of the year the group had over 600 members.
Around the same time, Martin and Eberhard, along with Kim Puleio, Lynette Williams, Lisa Foster and Michelle Green, approached the school and offered to help sort out their archives. Bronwyn Blackburn, and former Mordialloc College teacher, Dorothy Meadows, OAM, joined the group. The school’s extensive collection of memorabilia was in boxes in cupboards, dusty and unsorted. The as-yet unnamed group came to the view that the collection should be digitized, and quickly … The hard work had begun.
The school had its 90th birthday celebrations in October 2014, and the group discovered that there was considerable enthusiasm for the idea of an alumni association. Around 50 people joined that day as financial members, further demonstrating a groundswell of interest.
Five months on from the 90th—and with a bit of effort—the entire archive of the school was scanned and preserved for all time. Contributions from individuals started flooding in: old school report books from the 1930s, phonograph records of school musical performances from the 60s, badges, trophies, signature books from the 1920s, sporting memorabilia … And photos … lots of photos…. (for details see Mining the Archives).
Around this time, Ivor Donohue and Bruce Lines, both alumnus from the 1940s, joined the group. Paula McCarthy, an alumnae from the 1970s, joined in too. Sensing interest, the school provided the group with a $200 grant to ‘establish an alumni association for the benefit of the College’. Mrs Janet Duncan, an alumnae from the 1940s, graciously provided the MCAA with $500 to help things along.
In 2015, it became formally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under Consumer Affairs statutes (A0061960Y). The MCAA acquired a bank account, created a newsletter (Ventured—a pun on the school Yearbook, Venture), and worked on creating a dedicated website. In the process it gained an ever-growing membership. That year it raised more than $4000 in sponsorship from local business community, inaugurated an annual prize in local history, The Dorothy Meadows OAM Prize in History and provided the school with $1000 to assist disadvantaged students with books, uniforms and payment for school camps. A $2000 Kingston Council grant was awarded to the MCAA to assist with archival work. In the second year of operations, the MCAA was awarded an additional Kingston Council grant of $7,400 to continue their digitisation and preservation work. All this in just over 12 months!
The third year of operations in 2016 saw an explosion of interest: The MCAA Facebook group overshot 1500 members, and the number of people becoming full members grew significantly. The fact that the MCAA exists means that we are natural focal point for archival donations from former teachers and students, including thousands of negatives from from the 70s-90s (the ‘McDonald Collection’). We have increasing interest from sponsors from the local community. We recruited a Social Media Coordinator to handle the traffic. A new Webmaster, Mitchell Sundstrom–a Y12 student from the school–was elected. Recent school graduates Max Nichols and Shae MacBride joined the committee. Long term MCAA member, George Raphael, donated $500 to assist us, and many additional donations have flowed in as well including $1000 from alumnus and CEO of Healthmetrics, Steven Strange. In late 2016, we were nominated for an Australia Day award as ‘Community Group of the Year’.
2017 saw further work being done in digitising the school’s photograph collection and near-completion of the work storing hard copy photos into archival-quality sleeves and folders. We were successful in receiving another grant of $6260 from City of Kingston Annual Grants Round, and an additional $5480 from the Public Records’ Office of Victoria. At the AGM in October, inaugural president Martin Davies stood down after nearly four years, and Max Nichols was elected. Bela Barker and Dylan Styles joined the committee. 2017 came to a close with the welcome news that we were nominated again for an Australia Day award–for the second year running. At around the same time our Facebook membership overshot 2000, becoming the largest local group devoted to local history.
The MCAA is planning big things: a book on Mordialloc College for the centenary, merchandise, reunions, and much more. They have engaged the services of consultant historians to do the initial scholarly work for a book, drawn from their vast archive on the MCAA website. They are recruiting more sponsors, and have started an Alumni Business Register (free for members). They also plan to document and preserve as much of the archives as they can get their hands on before the centenary in 2024. They have ambitious plans to work towards a dedicated permanent archival museum, a commemorative centenary garden at the school, and a navigational app to be used on self-guided walking tours of the College at the centenary. They welcome sponsorship, donations and bequests (see Campaigns). Most of all, they welcome membership.
Recent photos courtesy of The Leader outtakes.