ARARAT - Ararat College will celebrate 100 years of existence this weekend with a variety of activities planned over the next three days.
The first of the centenary celebrations, which have been 12 months in the planning, got underway last night with the launch of the past and present student art show.
Ararat College assistant principal Janine Adams said the art show was a way of celebrating the current students' hard work throughout the year and also an opportunity for pupils to see the level they should be aiming for.
"It is also really pleasing that Sheryl Lugg opened the Art Show, because as well as being a past student she has also been an outstanding, inspirational art teacher over a number of years and has been incredibly dedicated to the arts' facility of the school," she said.
The centenary celebrations are expected to attract hundreds of visitors to Ararat, with 160 people to attend tonight's book launch of the College's special publication 'Nothing Without Work: 100 years of inspirational life stories from past students', while tomorrow night about 350 will fill the Ararat Performing Arts Centre for a gala dinner.
"You can imagine the stories and catching up that will be going on," Ararat College principal Geoff Sawyer said.
"That's all we have really got planned for the night, it is not about long speeches or politicians making addresses, it is just about getting people together.
"The interest shown has been fantastic, it has exceeded our wildest expectations.
"We thought there would be people come back who were interested but it has actually created a real buzz, particularly what I can gather from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Those generations can't wait to get here and get involved."
Today will see current Ararat College students take a step back in time with various activities including playing hopscotch, quoits and using yo-yos.
Ms Adams said the official opening will take place tomorrow at 11am, while tours of the campus will run on Saturday and Sunday at 10am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.
"I really encourage all ex-students that are in town to come along to the school. We have a number of ex-students flying in from all over Australia, people have cut short their overseas holidays so they can get here, which is just fantastic," she said.
"The art exhibition will be on and the school is going to be open Saturday and Sunday, there will be tours on both days and a barbecue lunch available.
"We are really just wanting the school to be somewhere that people can drop in over the weekend, catch up with old school mates and it is amazing walking around the school just the memories that will come back."
On Sunday a centenary church service will be held at 9.45am at St Andrews Uniting Church, while the chaplaincy golf day at the Chalambar Golf Club will round out the celebrations.
Mr Sawyer said he would like to thank all past and present staff who have helped organise the weekend's events, with a special acknowledgement going to Ms Adams.
"She has been terrific. I have been here six years and really love the place, but I haven't been here as a student, worked my whole life here (like Janine) or in the case of Geoff Parkinson still be coming back working on almost a daily basis," he said.
"We are really fortunate to have such high quality people who live, breath, love and are passionate about the school and have all those contacts back to their childhood days to be able to help.
"Janine has been fabulous as the chief organiser of everything, but to have help from people like Geoff Parkinson, Peter Brennan and Rick Thomas in particular, who have been almost full time on staff, but in a volunteer capacity, to get various different things going and make sure it all works has just been incredible and a great credit to them.
"Hopefully there is something for everyone and all who are returning can have a really good time.
"Not only a lot of local people, but I know there are some coming from pretty much right across Victoria, Australia and indeed a number from overseas.
"I wouldn't think there would be any accommodation available anywhere in town for the four-day period and of course everyone who is coming will be by car, so they are going to need petrol, they'll probably go to the supermarkets, bottle shops, so it will be an influx of literally hundreds of people into the town which is great for the wider community."