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St Vincent's College

In the mid-1940s, plans were begun to establish a Catholic boarding school in Bendigo. The driving force had been Dr John McCarthy, the third Bishop of Sandhurst. He wanted to ensure that country boys were able to receive a solid Catholic education in a rural setting. The priests of the Vincentian Order agreed to found the school modeled after St Stanislaus College in Bathurst.

In 1951, 120 acres were purchased at Junortoun at a cost of 4000 pounds, and in 1954 the first stage of the building was completed and opened by Bishop Stewart before a crowd of 6000 people. On February 5 1955, 43 boys began the school year at St Vincent's College.

During the 1950s and 60s, further building works were undertaken and sporting ovals were established. The school reached its peak in 1967 with 191 boarders enrolled and students attending from the Mallee, Riverina area, North-East Victoria, Melbourne and Gippsland. However with the advent of school buses, student numbers began to decline and in 1970 day students were admitted. By 1976 it was acknowledged that this style of boarding school was unsustainability and the teaching priests were required in other areas, and so, in 1977 it was decided to close St Vincent's College and allow the campus to become the Marist Brothers' Junior Campus, thus allowing Catholic education to continue on the site.

In 1983 the site became part of Catholic College Bendigo when Marist Brothers' College and St Mary's College combined. The site is today known as La Valla and caters for students in Years 7 to 9.

In 2009 Catholic College Bendigo redeveloped the pastoral care into vertical house system. At this time the College reaffirmed its recognition of the contribution by St Vincent's College to Catholic education in Bendigo by naming a College House in honour of St Vincent.

Reunions

An Ex-student's Association was formed from the very early days of St Vincent's College with many Annual Reunions held. At one stage there was even a Melbourne Branch of the Association due to the large number of alumni living in the city.

Over the years many reunions were organised by the St Vincent’s Past Students Association, including one in July 1972 at the Brian Boru Hotel which cost $3 per person for a Dinner Dance.

In October, 2005 a weekend celebration was held to commemorate fifty years since the foundation of the College.

The program included a Reunion Dinner on Saturday night at Silks, Bendigo Jockey Club, followed by Mass in the gym at La Valla the next morning. An estimated crowd of 400 people attended, including many former teachers. Former Catholic College Bendigo Principal Mr Darren McGregor, along with former St Vincent’s College President Fr John O’Keefe unveiled a plaque which acknowledged the significant contribution to Catholic education in Bendigo by Vincentian priests and their staff.

Five years later in October 2010, a similar event was held for the 55th Anniversary of Foundation. The guest speaker at the Reunion Dinner was Ron Storey who called up a representative from each decade of St Vincent's to recall some highlights of their time at school. William Bandy, Charles Morton and Peter Sweeney were happy to oblige and kept the audience very entertained with their anecdotes.

Mass was said in the former St Vincent's Chapel (current library) at La Valla on the Sunday morning. It provided a warm and comfortable setting for the Mass with music provided by CCB staff members Jo and Christine with a guest appearance by John Wakenshaw. At the conclusion of Mass, an honour board was presented to Catholic College Bendigo on behalf of the St Vincent's Past Students Association. The St Vincent's Technology scholarship aims to encourage a Year 9 student who shows initiative and determination in the area of technology.

Old College Banner

At the 2005 Reunion, one of the foundation students, Mr Frank Harrop presented the St Vincent's School banner to Mr Darren McGregor. Mr Harrop had held the banner for safekeeping since the closure of the College. In October 2006 the banner was officially placed in a permanent home on the second floor of the staff area at La Valla. The commemoration ceremony was attended by staff from Catholic College Bendigo as well as St Vincent's Past Students Committee members Mr Frank Harrop, Mr Jim Brennan and Mr Tony McEniry. This banner at the top of the stairs will be a constant reminder of the key role that the Vincentian story has played in the history of our College.

Additional Buildings at La Valla

Science Building opened in 2001

Technology Centre completed in 2006

Schools Trade Training Centre Consortium opened in 2011

Agricultural Program

As part of Vocational Education and Training (VET), students can experience ‘hands on’ training in agriculture and animal studies at La Valla. This is a great use of the extensive grounds at Junortoun. The program includes: growing vegetables, raising chickens, lambs, calves and breeding and showing animals. The students have enjoyed success at the Beef Show, Wool and Sheep Show, Royal Geelong Show, Campbelltown Show in Tasmania and Colourbration (Alpacas) in Bendigo. In 2011 the Construction crew built a shearing shed and pens at La Valla.

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