Official Sesquicentenary Ceremony of Fig Tree Pocket State School and “Back to the Pocket Festival”
Thank you, Mr Boyd, for your warm welcome. State Member for Maiwar; Federal Member for Ryan; Cr Mackay; distinguished guests; current and former students, staff and supporters of Fig Tree Pocket State School.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders. I further congratulate the combined Junior and Senior Singers for that powerful expression through song of reconciliation.
As Governor of Queensland, I am very pleased to join you here this morning for the “Back to the Pocket Festival” to celebrate the official 150th birthday — the sesquicentenary — of Fig Tree Pocket State School.
Before the year 2000, the word ‘sesquicentenary’ was not often heard in Queensland.
But in that year we celebrated the 150th anniversary of our State’s very first primary school and, since then, we have seen a proud group of our State’s oldest schools reach that significant milestone.
Today, Fig Tree Pocket State School joins them. Congratulations!
Schools were always one of the first buildings constructed when a new village or town was established.
Fig Tree Pocket was no exception.
Today’s ceremony and festival recognise Mary Jane Clarkson who first established a private school in the Pocket, as well as the enterprising farming families who raised funds to build the public school in 1871, and Mr William Henry Granville who donated the land for the school and became its first headmaster.
Those contributions were recognised with great ceremony in 1931, when the school celebrated its Diamond Jubilee and it is wonderful to see so much of the School’s history acknowledged in the activities and events in the program for the Back to the Pocket Festival today, from musical performances and old-fashioned games to a cake-cutting ceremony.
Today we will see the youngest current student and the oldest living past student share the honour of cutting the birthday cake; at the Diamond Jubilee in 1931 the cake was cut by a current student and one who had been there when it had first opened, in 1871.
The Diamond Jubilee cake of 1931 had three tiers and was decorated with a miniature fig tree. I am intrigued to see what entrants have created as part of this year’s cake decorating competition – no pressure!
Both in 1931 and today, careful thought has been given to creating a permanent memento of the occasion.
In 1931, a bronze tablet on the front of the building was unveiled; today, a time capsule will be sealed and buried and I am honoured to have been invited to provide a message to include in the capsule as well as a commemorative Governor’s coin.
Today, the crops of maize, sugar cane and vegetables have gone from the Pocket and local dairy farmers no longer supply residents with their daily milk and cream, but the spirit that saw this school established, a hundred and fifty years ago, lives on and the school continues to play the same central role in the community that it always has.
Congratulations once again on this significant birthday and thank you for inviting me to share the celebrations with you. I look forward very much to exploring the displays, and to meeting many of you throughout the course of the morning.