Corowa High School cel­e­brates 50 years

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE -

A spe­cial as­sem­bly on the front lawn of Corowa High School last Thurs­day marked an im­por­tant mile­stone – 50 years since the school started op­er­at­ing at its cur­rent lo­ca­tion.

Prior to 1968, high school aged stu­dents in Corowa at­tended a com­pos­ite K-12 school at a dif­fer­ent site. He­len Reynold­son, Year 12 stu­dent in 1968, was in­vited to the as­sem­bly to speak about her time at Corowa High School and the changes she has seen.

“Fifty years ago I was part of the stu­dent body, which formed a guard of hon­our for dig­ni­taries who had come to cel­e­brate the open­ing of the Corowa High School,” she told the as­sem­bly.

“It was a spe­cial time for the school com­mu­nity.

“We were mov­ing from a very old school which was no longer considered safe into a new mod­ern build­ing which at the time con­sisted of Blocks A and B and the can­teen area.

“Teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents fer­ried equip­ment from the school to the new, a new uni­form was in­tro­duced for se­nior stu­dents; se­nior stu­dents were given a study room and the num­ber of teach­ers in the school in­creased.

“If one was start­ing high school in 1968 one went into 1st form and not year 7, if one was fin­ish­ing, one was in 6th form high school and not year 12.

“Stu­dents com­plet­ing 4th form re­ceived a school cer­tifi­cate and many stu­dents fin­ished school at this time find­ing em­ploy­ment in the lo­cal area.

“When I started high school there were 80 stu­dents in 1st form but only 18 of us con­tin­ued through to com­plete 6th form, thir­teen stu­dents re­ceiv­ing ter­tiary schol­ar­ships.

“To re­ceive a higher school cer­tifi­cate, one needed to com­plete 6th form.

“Most of my class were eigh­teen when we fin­ished school.

“As a re­sult, we had teach­ers who were only a cou­ple of years older than us.

“While the stu­dents loved it, it was of­ten dif­fi­cult for the teach­ers.

“Stu­dents had a habit of try­ing to en­gage teach­ers in the sub­ject of fash­ion and football rather than the par­tic­u­lar sub­ject area to be stud­ied.

“As­sem­blies were held in the area in front of the can­teen.

“We had a six pe­riod day with mid-morn­ing break and a one-hour lunch break.

“The year was di­vided into three terms rather than the four as it is to­day.

“While we had home­work, we did not have as­sess­ment tasks to com­plete by a set date and be­came part of our over­all as­sess­ment.

“We had ex­ams mid-year and at the end of the year.

“You can imag­ine a lot of us left study un­til the last minute which meant late nights of swot­ting and bleary eyes the next day. “For the first time we had a can­teen. “We could pur­chase our lunch with­out hav­ing to pre-order.

“Lots of stu­dents went home for lunch and there wasn’t a lunch pass re­quired.

“Many stu­dents rode bikes to school as there were no town buses.

“Buses only trans­ported stu­dents who lived well out of the town bound­aries.

“I can’t re­mem­ber teach­ers mark­ing a roll in my days, but I sup­pose they did but not for each les­son.

“I re­mem­ber this well be­cause when my brother and I were run­ning late for school we would hang in Tower Street un­til the morn­ing as­sem­bly had fin­ished and moved off into class­rooms and then we would go and wait in the can­teen area un­til the bell went for pe­riod two and join in the day then.

“No teacher ever quizzed us as to why we had missed the first les­son.

“Class lessons al­ways started with a good morn­ing.

“At the end of each les­son the class waited to be dis­missed.

“Sten­cils that we may have re­ceived were of­ten hand writ­ten by the teacher.

“There were no school TV’s, white­boards, smart­boards, com­put­ers, cal­cu­la­tors or mo­bile phones.

“Sub­jects such as wood­work were for boys only and needle­work and cook­ing, girls only.

“Some sub­jects you have to­day were not in ex­is­tence in 1968.

“Sport was a big part of our school life with in­ter school vis­its with North Al­bury and Fin­ley; events at swim­ming and ath­letic car­ni­vals ac­tively chal­lenged and town sport­ing teams well rep­re­sented by stu­dents from Corowa High.

“Shorts and long pants were not considered suit­able for young ladies to wear to school.

“In­stead we wore un­flat­ter­ing pleated dresses in sum­mer and tu­nics in win­ter. “Boys’ uni­forms were al­ways a lot smarter. “Blaz­ers and ties were part of the school uni­form.

“We needed to change into sports uni­form for PE we were in big trou­ble if we didn’t have match­ing knick­ers.

“My only pun­ish­ment dur­ing high school or the only one I am ad­mit­ting to was be­ing sent out of the li­brary for talk­ing.

“Stu­dents were kept in at the be­gin­ning of lunch rather than hav­ing a de­ten­tion dur­ing lunch.

“While cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment was still part of the dis­ci­pline plan, I can’t re­mem­ber any­one be­ing caned.

“In 1968 the school com­mu­nity wasn’t as di­ver­si­fied as it is to­day but we were lucky enough to share cul­tures with some Ital­ian and Pol­ish fam­i­lies.

“The cel­e­bra­tion of 50 years of the Corowa High School will have spe­cial mean­ing to lots of peo­ple: stu­dents who com­pleted their se­condary stud­ies here; teach­ers who have taught at Corowa High.

“For me I was in the first 6th form at Corowa High.

“Lots of you will be here to cel­e­brate Corowa High School’s next mile­stone and each of you will have con­trib­uted to part of the school his­tory. “Carpe Diem.” Corowa High School stu­dent Gabby Pir­nag fol­lowed with a speech high­light­ing the fan­tas­tic re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties stu­dents have ac­cess to at Corowa High School in 2018.

“On be­half of our present staff and stu­dents, thank you Mrs Reynold­son for your in­sight into the early days of Corowa High on this site,” Gabby said at the as­sem­bly.

“There have cer­tainly been many changes since this school opened 50 years ago.

“The changes in the phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment are cer­tainly ob­vi­ous to all, we are lucky that we have so much space, that some of the old trees re­main.

“That we have grounds­man to main­tain the oval, that trees have been planted, seat­ing is con­tin­u­ally be­ing up­graded, se­niors have their own ar­eas, um­brel­las, shade sails and the out­door blue shel­ters - which all are ad­di­tions to our school in re­cent times.

“Our vine­yard is a unique as­pect of our school and we were one of the first to have a liquor li­cence, to al­low us to pro­duce and sell wine in NSW.

“Some of the se­nior stu­dents may re­mem­ber when the sheep weren’t ‘penned up’ but had run of the school - the neigh­bours cer­tainly will be­cause they were of­ten found wan­der­ing in King Street eat­ing their rose bushes.

“The re­fur­bished labs, the in­dus­trial qual­ity new kitchen and ‘the shed’, are all ad­di­tions to our learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment over re­cent years.

“We are keenly await­ing for the pizza oven to fire up!

“In the class­rooms our meth­ods of learn­ing, much of it due to tech­nol­ogy, have also changed. “Our lessons are more stu­dent based. “Less ‘chalk and talk’ - per­haps! “Does any­one ex­cept maths even have chalk? “In some ways the school may seem ‘stricter’ for ex­am­ple, stu­dents used to be able to go home for lunch and then come back; they could walk down to sport on a Wed­nes­day via the main street to visit the cafe on the way.

“How­ever, the changes rep­re­sent the over­all change in the way so­ci­ety op­er­ates and the fact that the school has a ‘duty of care’ for us.

“Our school has not al­ways been lucky enough to have a ca­reers ad­vi­sor; there was no work ex­pe­ri­ence, no in-school trainee­ships and no help with get­ting a job.

“Lit­tle ad­vice about ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion and how to nav­i­gate the world af­ter school - how for­tu­nate that we have these pro­grams.

“Look­ing at the re­cip­i­ents of the Carpe Diem award over the last few years.

“A sci­en­tist, a well-known AFL coach, an Olympian, a dec­o­rated soldier and more.

“It is ob­vi­ous that Corowa High School has over many years of­fered a wide va­ri­ety of op­por­tu­ni­ties to many stu­dents.

“Although the ed­u­ca­tion system is con­stantly evolv­ing, it is the teach­ers and stu­dents that are the most im­por­tant ele­ments of any school and I think we are all lucky to be Corowa High stu­dents in 2018.”

The school’s re­union fes­tiv­i­ties will con­tinue with a 50-year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on Satur­day, Septem­ber 22 where the pub­lic are in­vited to take a tour of the school, en­joy a bar­be­cue lunch and then a din­ner and en­ter­tain­ment is planned at the Corowa RSL Club.

Corowa High School stu­dents (back, left to right) John Sch­nelle, Hay­ley Cord­well, Chloe Water­son­Hug­gins, Gabrielle Pir­nag and David Stra­chan pic­tured with He­len Reynold­son (front) be­fore the school as­sem­bly that marked 50 years of Corowa High School in its cur­rent lo­ca­tion.

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