PROUD HISTORY: Former South Lismore Public School principals (from left) George Connell, Diana Foley, John Hanger and Erwin Bates at the school for its 100 year anniversary on Saturday.
PROUD HISTORY: Former South Lismore Public School principals (from left) George Connell, Diana Foley, John Hanger and Erwin Bates at the school for its 100 year anniversary on Saturday. Leah White

Century of fond memories at South Lismore Public School

FROM teaching history to celebrating its own, generations of past and present students and staff gathered at South Lismore Public School on Saturday for its 100th anniversary.

Former pupil Daphne Whaites who studied at the school from 1934 to 1939, said it was a wonderful day to reflect on how much the school had changed.

"It was just one little building then," she said. "And it was boys on one side (of the class) and girls on the other.

"We got the cane if we were talking in class.

"We didn't think it was strict. It was what we were used to."

Four former principals, whose combined time leading the school spanned four decades, gave speeches during the centenary's opening ceremony.

John Hanger, who was the school's principal from 1971 to 1991, said when he first arrived the buildings were dilapidated old wood.

"They were very warped and leaky and the grounds, any time it rained you needed gumboots to get around, particularly to get to the loo," he said.

"But when I got here I discovered it wasn't what the buildings were, it was what the terrific people who were inside it and what they produced."

Former principal Diana Foley, 2008 to 2012, said the sense of community around the school had always been strong "and still is".

Erwin Bates, who was principal from 2001 to 2008, said many teachers had chosen to stay at the school for a long time.

"When I first started here there were a number of teachers who had been here in excess of 30 years," he said.

"That obviously tells you that they love the school, love being here."

The school's current principal Nickie Bartlett said it was an honour to be principal during the school's centenary and learn about its amazing history.

"We heard all the former principals talk about being a Southie and that sense of community and the community has a real sense of ownership over the school," she said. "What we know about schools is that they're not just buildings. They're people.

"And that's what makes the centenary such a wonderful celebration to be able to meet people from all walks of life who have a connection here to our school."



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