Vale Betty Cuthbert

Statement from Ermington Public School principal Jennifer Scuglia:

Betty Cuthbert was a pupil of Ermington Public School from 1.2.1944 - 14.12.1950.

Ermington Public School principal Jennifer Scuglia said the school was immensely proud to count Betty Cuthbert among its alumni.

Ms Scuglia said students at the school all learned about Betty Cuthbert and her achievements as part of a local area unit of study.

"She began her athletics career in Grade 3 at Ermington Public when she won the 75-yards race and high jump. That year she went on to represent the school at the district carnival and state titles, winning the 75 yards at both events - and the rest, as they say is history," she said.

"She remained connected to our school throughout her life and joined the Ermington Public School Red Cross during the war to help out with the war effort.

"She last visited us in 2004. We have a school building named after her and will present a memorial trophy for athletics in honour of Ms Cuthbert later this year."

Statement from Macarthur Girls High School principal Gail Cluff:

Macarthur Girls High School principal Gail Cluff said the school was saddened to hear of Ms Cuthbert's death.

"Betty Cuthbert holds a special place in the hearts and minds of students and staff at Macarthur Girls High School as she exemplified our school motto, the living force, in all she did throughout her life both in the sporting arena and in her personal life," Ms Cluff said.

Betty Cuthbert attended Macarthur Girls High School, which was then called Parramatta Home Science School. She enrolled with her twin sister Marie in 1951 at the age of 12.

Ms Cluff said it was at high school that Betty met her lifelong mentor, Olympic athlete Mrs June Ferguson, who was the physical education mistress. It was the beginning of a fruitful partnership as Mrs Ferguson coached Betty throughout her school and international athletics career.

Mrs Ferguson had competed at the 1948 London Games under her maiden name, June Maston, winning a silver medal in the 4x100m relay.

Betty Cuthbert broke an Australian junior record when she was 16 by running 220 yards in 25.1 seconds.

Ms Cluff said Betty Cuthbert encompassed all the characteristics that Australian and Macarthur students treasured: an indomitable spirit, fortitude against the odds, determination to win through courage and a willingness to continue against all odds.

In June 2011, Macarthur Girls High School's new gymnasium was officially opened and named the Betty Cuthbert Gymnasium.

Due to ill health, Ms Cuthbert was unable to attend but expressed her pleasure in having the gymnasium named in her honour.

Ms Cluff said the school had mounted a commemorative plaque and planted Betty Cuthbert roses in recognition and acknowledgement of one of its most famous students, who was an outstanding national ambassador.

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