St Anthony’s marks 50 year anniversary

St Anthony’s Primary School has celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a tree planting ceremony, balloon release and aerial photo.

The event, which took place on Tuesday April 21, saw the school’s first Principal Mr John Mulvenna invited back to assist current Principal Ms Aine Fleming with the tree planting ceremony.

Pupils from St. Anthony's PS prepare to release their Golden Balloons to celebrate the school's 50th Anniversary. INLT 17-205-AM

Pupils from St. Anthony's PS prepare to release their Golden Balloons to celebrate the school's 50th Anniversary. INLT 17-205-AM

As part of the celebrations, every child in the school was given a gold helium-filled balloon bearing their name to release. The furthest-travelled balloon which returns to the school will win a prize.

The balloon release was captured on camera from the air by an aerial drone.

Reflecting on how the school has changed since it opened, Ms Fleming told The Times: “When the school opened on September 1 1964 it was quite a big school with 300 children and mobile classrooms on site as well.

“Since then the demography has changed and we now have fewer than 100 children. We have a good relationship with St Anthony’s nursery and Action for Children who are all on the premises, as are Sure Start and Larne Parental Group. So on this site children are catered for from birth until 11 years of age.”

Former Principal of St. Anthony's PS, Mr John Mulvenna plants a tree to mark the school's 50th Anniversary. INLT 17-204-AM

Former Principal of St. Anthony's PS, Mr John Mulvenna plants a tree to mark the school's 50th Anniversary. INLT 17-204-AM

Recalling the opening of the school, Mr Mulvenna commented: “At the time the estate around Craigyhill was under construction and families were coming in in a steady stream. We started with four teachers but had to extend that to 19. The growth was phenomenal. The highest outgoing number of P7s was 107 pupils.”

As part of the celebrations, the school’s Parent Teacher Association has created a Facebook page called “Memories of St Anthony’s Primary School” to encourage past pupils to share their photos and memories. These will then be compiled into a fiftieth anniversary commemorative magazine.

Ms Fleming continued: “As part of the celebrations we will be holding a party for the children on June 9, followed by Mass in the school with Father Kerr to bless us for the next fifty years. We will be inviting all the past staff and it’s not a closed event, the school will be open for past pupils and supporters from the community to look around, relive old memories and see how it is at the minute.”

Asked what her hopes are for the next fifty years of St Anthony’s Primary School, Ms Fleming stated: “We hope for regrowth, it’s a small and intimate school but it has a strong community spirit and an excellent staff, not just the teaching staff but all the staff.”

Speaking during the tree planting ceremony, Ms Fleming added: “As this tree grows so will St Anthony’s over the next 50 years continue to grow and serve the children of Larne.”