Coolangatta State School Centenary Celebration
Thank you, Principal Mahony, for your kind introduction this afternoon, to Kaye and to me, and congratulations to Kyliah for the singing of the National Anthem, and to Zoe and Elissa for their excellent captains’ address.
I too acknowledge our elected representatives, and students, staff and supporters from Coolangatta State School.
And I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we gather, and pay respect to their Elders past and present – with encouragement to their young emerging leaders.
It is wonderful to see your Governor’s Standard flying at this historic site today, and I am immensely proud to share this celebration with you, as is Kaye, and indeed this magnificent view, a view which has delighted – and I am sure distracted – many generations of students!
Today we celebrate those generations of girls and boys, and the teachers, principals and staff who have together forged the reputation of Coolangatta State School over the past century.
It is a particular pleasure to be able to join with you in celebrating 100 years of Coolangatta State School, because, as many of you would know, my grandfather had the honour of being the first headmaster to guide the path of the new school on this site.
The school is very unusual in having had three homes since its inception.
It was created as a result of an outbreak of influenza that caused the border with New South Wales to be closed.
This meant students could no longer cross into New South Wales to get to their school, and so a new school was built on the Queensland side of the border.
In an interesting twist, around the same number of New South Wales students now cross the border in the opposite direction every day to attend school in Queensland: characteristic Queensland hospitality you may say, and thank you for being here today Mr Nicholls, Principal of the Tweed Heads Public School!
I will soon have the pleasure of unveiling a remembrance plaque which commemorates the centenary of the school, acknowledging its temporary, Kirra Hill and Stapylton Street locations.
It is an indication of the esteem in which the school has been held that the old ‘School on the Hill’ still remains, and I commend all who worked to preserve the building and the historical significance of the site.
May I particularly commend Mr Allen Callaghan for his commitment to this historical project, and for his authorship of the very interesting booklet available to us today, which includes his own 1952 class photograph!
Today, there is little in Coolangatta that would be recognisable to my grandfather.
Where there were once sand dunes and swamps, there are now high-rise apartments and office blocks.
But what has not changed is the importance of education, and the commitment of every member of the school staff to the welfare of the children in their care.
Coolangatta State School has a fine reputation, and my grandfather would have been delighted with what has become of his old school.
I congratulate the Coolangatta State School community on the past one hundred years, and wish you all the very best for a bright future serving students from both sides of the border.