Celebrations and memories as Buxton school celebrates 50th anniversary

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A primary school in Buxton celebrated its 50th anniversary on its current site by having pupils dress up from the last five decades as well as welcoming former staff members back.

St Anne’s Catholic Primary School dates back to 1888 but moved to its current home on Lightwood Road in 1972.

And the milestone was marked on Friday November, 4 when the school opened its doors for a special half century celebration.

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Lesley Crowther, a higher level teaching assistant at St Anne’s for 24 years, also attended the school as a pupil and recalls the excitement of moving to the Lightwood Road site in 1972.

St Annes anniversary assembly, a Bruno Mars theme from the 2010sSt Annes anniversary assembly, a Bruno Mars theme from the 2010s
St Annes anniversary assembly, a Bruno Mars theme from the 2010s

She said: “The school used to be mostly based in the parish centre, although I was based at the British Legion. We couldn’t wait to move into the new building. It was all so brand new, so clean, as we had come from really old buildings.

“Classrooms were partitioned by curtains as the building was open plan, it was a bit noisy.

"We could all gather in the dining hall together and it was lovely to be able to sit with all of our friends.

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"We all had to wear slippers inside because there were carpets everywhere. We had a bag and we would keep our outside shoes in that.”

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St Annes anniversary assembly, the 2020sSt Annes anniversary assembly, the 2020s
St Annes anniversary assembly, the 2020s

She remembered hating the milk she drank at school as it was left outside which meant in the summer it was curdled and in the winter it was frozen.

Later in life, Lesley, of Buxton, started helping out as a parent and went on to become an education care officer.

She said: “It was strange coming back to work here after being a pupil. Calling teachers by their first names took a bit of getting used to.”

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Lesley cites the caring, holistic attitude of the school as one of the reasons she has stayed so long.

St Annes anniversary assembly, Oasis and the Spice Girls for the 1990s - by year sixSt Annes anniversary assembly, Oasis and the Spice Girls for the 1990s - by year six
St Annes anniversary assembly, Oasis and the Spice Girls for the 1990s - by year six

She said: “Everybody is special here, the staff, children and parents. There is a real caring ethos, everybody is involved.

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"I remember when we dug the pond out and everyone came and helped, including parents, which was lovely. We’ve had lots of grandparent days as well. We are like one big family and I really enjoy working here.”

Sharing some of her favourite memories, Lesley said the 50th anniversary would be something she would never forget.

She said: “Today will be a day that I remember.”

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St Annes anniversary assembly, animals and explorers from the 2010sSt Annes anniversary assembly, animals and explorers from the 2010s
St Annes anniversary assembly, animals and explorers from the 2010s

To mark the occasion each year group in school performed songs and dressed up in outfits from one of the last five decades, with pupils dressing up as everyone from the Spice Girls to hippies and Bruno Mars.

St Anne’s was set up in 1888 by an order of nuns called the Presentation Sisters.

Originally situated behind St Anne’s Catholic Church, there were just 48 children attending when it first opened.

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The Lightwood Road building opened in 1972 but has been extended many times to accommodate the increasing number of children attending the popular school, which welcomes children of all faiths and no faith.

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Since 2018 it has been part of the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust.

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St Annes anniversary assembly, the 1980sSt Annes anniversary assembly, the 1980s
St Annes anniversary assembly, the 1980s

Christine Delli-Colli, of Buxton, has been a higher level teaching assistant at St Anne’s for 32 years.

Both she and her husband, Joe, and her daughter are all ex-pupils at the school.

She said: “Back then, reading wasn’t big and now the emphasis is a lot more on phonics.

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"There wasn’t as much structured play. There were no computers and the headteacher then was very keen on cursive handwriting. The children would use the fountain pens with ink cartridges.

"Dinners were different, there was no pizza or pasta, it was meat and veg.”

Karen Bagshaw, from Buxton, was a higher level teaching assistant who retired in July after 22 years at St Anne’s but is finding it hard to stay away and has returned to supply cover when needed.

She said: “I just love getting the children prepared and ready to move on. It’s great to be encouraging them to do their best, if they do their best you can’t expect any more. It is very sad when they go.

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“We have children who have started in Reception and I have taught their parents. Some of the children I taught are turning 30 now.

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“Over the years equipment has changed, we used to have roller boards and overhead projectors, now we have interactive whiteboards.

“St Anne’s is a family, a community. I’ve been here through a lot of changes but we all remember that we are here for one reason and that’s the children, to make their school life an enjoyable and happy one.“We want to give them a happy place to be, a place where they can have a bit of fun but there’s also lots of hard work and boundaries. We are setting an example for them.”

Current headteacher Julia Wiggins said she was exceptionally proud to be leading the school.

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She added: “Our school has gone through many changes over the past 50 years, but we are still here today, supporting our children to grow and learn, in accordance with our mission statement. Here’s to the next 50 years!”

There will be another opportunity for parents, carers and children to gather together for a Christmas craft making session for current reception children and new starters on Thursday December, 1 between 4pm to 5pm.

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