If the walls could talk...
The walls of our Junior School have housed the stories of many students and staff who have walked the corridors in the school’s 179 year history.
As the Grade 1 class of 1973 stepped foot into the Junior School front office on a recent warm Summer afternoon, it didn’t take long for the memories of yester-year to flood back for this special group of classmates.
The missing milk crates by the front door may have been one of the first indications that things had changed a little since the group had first been welcomed into the school 50 years ago, and the tour through the school buildings - old and new, didn’t disappoint.
Hosted by our current Head of Junior School, Michelle Keller, eleven of the thirteen students from Mrs Gardener's Grade 1 class reminisced on their primary years as they connected over stories and shared experiences – sitting in the back of the class in Grade 2/3 (now the staff room), taking turns being responsible for bell duty, new carpets and buildings – requiring students to take their shoes off and wear slippers, singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in courtyard assemblies, mothers trying to iron the pleats in the old mid-grey uniforms, playing golf in the classroom with a yard ruler and ping pong balls, mud huts, playgrounds and chasey. And, at least one unsolved mystery to stretch the memory bank – who broke their arm on the monkey bars?!
As the tour continued, the 1973 classmates paused to hear how learning has changed within the classroom walls. From wellbeing initiatives to support student regulation, to differences in teaching money and time, as well as the addition of an inquiry approach through the globally recognised International Baccalaureate Primary Year Program. While heads nodded and interest in modern learning increased, our alumni were also pleased to hear that some things remain the same – pens and pencils still feature on classroom desks, and the local bakery still provides lunch once a week in those well-loved lunch order bags. (The 70’s menu included 18 cents for a pie, 17 cents for a pastie, with the apple turnover with cream a favourite sweet choice!) Perhaps the most important element of school life in 1973 remains the same – the connections between students and between staff. Stories of care, fun, laughter, with people at the heart.
The last stop of the tour enabled classmates to enter a place once ‘out of bounds’ during their schooling. Headmaster Mr Winderlich’s residence, a wonderful reminder of the past, and a gentle nod to the future – the room transformed from old teachers’ residence to classroom for our Foundation students as they begin their journey into the primary years. As the excited voices of our 1973 Grade 1 students faded down the corridor, now new voices echo through the hallway as a new era of students continue their learning story within the very same walls.