Kalbarri school bell rings on six decades

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenMidwest Times
Current Principal Carol Goodwin, left, with ex Principals Ian Sherborne (1988-1991), Robert Lister (1974-1975), Mort Kulhman (1977-1979), Lester Marston (1992-2001) and Edwin Smith (1961-1964).
Camera IconCurrent Principal Carol Goodwin, left, with ex Principals Ian Sherborne (1988-1991), Robert Lister (1974-1975), Mort Kulhman (1977-1979), Lester Marston (1992-2001) and Edwin Smith (1961-1964). Credit: Yvonne McKenzie

When Kalbarri School opened in February, 1959, students were allowed to bring their dogs to class and swim in the Murchison River at lunchtime.

Much has changed since then — including the name and location — but Kalbarri District High School remains.

Staff and students recently celebrated the school’s 60th anniversary.

Among the guests were several original students still living in Kalbarri, ex-principals and relatives of the school’s first teacher, Ross Graham.

Also present were many descendants of Fred Blood, who donated his humble shack on the river bank as the school’s first building.

In those days, there were eight students who had previously been unable to access correspondence lessons because there was no regular mail service.

In 1961, the school moved to a new location on Hackney Street and it now has nearly 200 students. Current teacher Lisa Currie said the original punishment book was among the most interesting relics displayed at the open day.

The first entry, from 1961, was for disobedience and bad language and the unfortunate student received one stroke of the cane.

“Principal Edwin Smith and student Gary Cornell both attended the day and were together reminiscing over the event,” Ms Currie said.

“The final entry (from 1981) involves one of our current teachers, Conrad Browne, who was a student at the school. One stroke of the cane for passing offensive notes.”

Other highlights included the unearthing of a time capsule from 1999, which contained students’ work, uniforms and other memorabilia including clippings from The Geraldton Guardian.

“We also revealed over 300 etched pavers, purchased by past and present students and staff, that are being laid within Brenda’s Garden,” Ms Currie said.

The event finished with a colour run, in which students were covered with red-and-white powder — the school’s original colours — and sprayed with water by firefighters.

Principal Carol Goodwin said it was important to acknowledge the foresight of those who established the school all those years ago.

“I can’t imagine when Mr Blood donated his shack to education he envisaged the collection of buildings we now have,” she said.

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