When the school opened in 1958, it had first year students only. Its Headmaster was S. G. Demasson and its Art Master was Ray Montgomery (also of football umpiring fame). Between them they designed the school crest. Montgomery found that at the beginning of the 20th century a Scottish baronet named Sir Alexander Matheson had acquired approximately 1, 700 acres of land in the Applecross district.
Sir Alexander’s ancestral home was called Attadale and the particular region Ardross; whilst a village there was, and is, called Applecross. Nearby in about the middle western coastal area of Scotland are such villages as Gairloch and Ullapool.
On Sir Alexander’s coat of arms was an ‘eastern’ crown out of which a hand brandished a scimitar. This became the main feature of the school’s crest; but the black swan holding a book in its beak became symbolic of this region near the river, and the purpose of this school as a place of learning. Demasson chose the motto ‘Achieve’ because he felt it fitted in with the brandished scimitar and with what could be expected of this school’s students of the future.
The Early Years
In 1958, Applecross High School opened its doors to cater for students south of the Swan River, and so relieve the pressure on Kent Street High School and John Curtin High School. The first students came from the contributory suburbs: Applecross, Ardross and Mount Pleasant. In addition, students came from Bicton, Como, Koonawarra, Manning, Palmyra and Willagee. On the opening day, the foundation Principal, Stanley Demasson and a staff of twenty four commenced the school year in incomplete classrooms with nearly six hundred students.
The School reached Senior High School status in 1961, and under the then Principal, William Stallwood, and a staff of sixty five, the enrolment reached 1 420. The courses of study available to Junior Certificate students were four options: Academic, Commercial, General and Technical, while a Special High School Certificate course provided for those not attempting the Junior. In this year, 101 of the 325 original Junior Certificate class returned to study for the Leaving Certificate.
From its inception, Applecross High School promoted a vigorous participation in sport and fostered drama, debating, music and dancing. The School’s choirs, brass band and orchestra performed frequently both locally and in competition. To support the sporting endeavours, the Parents and Citizen Association undertook and completed a school oval with three practice wickets and playing fields, tennis courts and basketball courts, and proposed another project, the provision of a swimming pool. This became a reality on 14 October 1963. However, the lack of a School Hall seriously hampered drama, music both vocal and instrumental, gymnastics and the social activities at the School. The Principal and the Parents and Citizens Association began the planning that eventually resulted in the present Hall-Gymnasium by late 1969. In 1978, this building was named Stallwood Hall.
In 1962, fully equipped Science rooms, a Home Economics centre, and later a Manual Arts wing were added. The Science Centre was opened on 14 October 1965 by Senator Hon. John Gorton MA. In the same year, with a population of nearly 1 600 and a staff of sixty five, Applecross became a Senior High School with Leaving Certificate classes. Almost immediately the School’s reputation for academic achievement was foreshadowed: in 1963, the second only Year Twelve class scored 113 successful passes with thirty two Commonwealth Scholarships. Furthermore, Applecross Senior High School could now compete on equal terms with other Senior High Schools, and began its long and credible record of inter-High School competition.
By 1968, it was obvious that a more spacious library was required to provide better facilities than the one room had allowed. On 10 December 1971, the new, well appointed Library opened for school use. In 1968, classes were formed in certain Western Australian schools to cater for the gifted and talented students. Applecross Senior High School provided Art as its speciality subject, and three classrooms were adapted exclusively for this purpose. Later, in 1975, a new Ceramic Art Centre expanded the School’s Art facilities.
Applecross Senior High School had its genesis in the population explosion experienced in Western Australia during the 1950s. In 1957 construction commenced on the main body of the school referred to as the ‘H’ block. Tennis courts and a grassed oval were laid out to the south of the ‘H’ block. The school was officially opened on 10 February 1958 with a total enrolment of 583 students. By 1961, the student population had increased to 1420 and in order to cater for this growth in student numbers, the State Government approved successive building and extension programs for the school.
The Manual Arts building, the Canteen and Caretaker’s Cottage had been built by late 1961. This was followed by a swimming pool funded through the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C) in 1963. The Science wing was added in 1965, followed by the Prevocational Centre in 1969, the Gymnasium (Stallwood Hall) and Library in 1971. The Ceramics Centre was built in 1975, followed by additions to the Library and the Prevocational Centre and the conversion of several classrooms for new uses in 1981. Finally, the Art Centre was built in 1987 after fire had destroyed the Art classrooms, the Performing Arts Centre (funded by the P&C) was added in 1991 and the Administration wing was completed in 1999.
The original 1959 garden design by renowned landscape architect, John Oldham, served the school well and remains in evidence with the large number of fully mature native trees. However, many aspects of the original plantings have changed or disappeared during the life of the school. The current landscape of the school is under review and will be redesigned to complement the modern state-of-the-art facilities.
In 2005, Applecross Senior High School was identified by the Heritage Council of Western Australia (HCWA) as being amongst the best representative examples of its type of post World War II Government secondary school buildings, and earmarked to be assessed at a later date for possible inclusion on the state register of heritage places. The provision of government funding for the re-development of the school in 2009 prompted HCWA to carry out its assessment immediately. Since that time, the architects, DoE and BMW have been dealing closely with HCWA, and in November 2010 submitted a Draft Conservation Plan and Development Application for consideration.
In the 2009 State Budget the Government allocated $56 million for the re-development of Applecross Senior High School. Whilst the Department of Education (DoE) retains ultimate control of the project through Steering and Planning Committees, at the local level the Project Consultative Group has representation from school staff and the P&C. Committee meetings provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to have input and receive reports on the progress of the building program from the Project Manager, Department of Building Management & Works (BMW).
The building program involved retaining the ‘H’ bock, the Gymnasium, the swimming pool, and the Automotive Workshop. All other existing buildings were removed. Construction of a new south wing on the site of the existing tennis courts was designed to house the new administration area, Library / Resource Centre, Science, Home Economics and Health & Physical Education wings. A new Design & Technology Centre was constructed to the east of the swimming pool and a new Visual Arts Centre located on the site of the existing basketball courts. The current Gymnasium was converted into a Performing Arts Centre, while the ‘H’ block has been completely refurbished for use by Business/Information Technology, Careers & Vocational Education, English, Languages, Mathematics, Humanities and Social Sciences and Student Services.
The ‘H’ block and the new south wing are linked on both levels by partially covered walkways, and lifts at either end of the pedestrian ‘spine’. A new carpark, designed to accommodate all staff and visitor cars runs along the northern boundary of the site from Links Road in the west, to Ardessie Street in the east. Environmentally Sustainable Design principles guide the architects’ thinking on all educational projects.
Applecross Senior High School remained fully operational during the building program.