Excerpts from"Jubilee of Secondary Education at Numurkah 1924-1974" and "65 Years of Secondary Education in Numurkah 1924-1989"
The Numurkah Primary School (S.S. 2134) originated out of a proposal by a selector William Saxton about 1878. Five acres of land in the present central situation had been allocated for a school in the initial town survey (bordered by Quinn, McCaskill, Callendar and Gray Streets). A one room Primary School with teacher's quarters of 2 rooms (later used as a Head Teacher's residence and then as a shelter shed) was transported to the site and set up at a cost of 190 pounds. It was officially opened in September 1879 by District Inspector, Robert Craig. The teacher, Mr. Thomas Livingstone rode in from Drumanure on horseback each day. Mr. Charles Ross of Shepparton became his assistant. There were no buses in those days and pupils walked or found other means of reaching school. Horse back and horse an gig were common. They were tough times and tough people. Most areas remained in timber (pines, bull-oaks) and scrub and it is reported that Mr. Brenion had to plough a furrow for his children to follow to and from school. Other families blazed trees.
There were 29 pupils representing all classes. Families in the original enrolment were: Brenion (4), Callander (3), Collett (2), Cuthbert (1), Elliott (2), Green (2), Mortill (1), McAuliffe (4), Paterson (2), Ralston (1), Tilburn (2), Saxton (5). Since the passing of the Education Act of 1872 pupils of all ages commenced their education wherever a school was provided. But many found it tedious or hard-going and were irregular in interest and attendance. Generally their object was to obtain a Certificate of Exemption. Soon the "Standard" was established at Class 4 level (allowing pupils to leave) while the "Merit" at Class 6 provided a goal for further education. Later with the adoption of eight "Grades" there was a Qualifying Certificate at Grade 6 and the Merit Certificate at Grade 8. By 1882 the school attendance was 40 pupils and by 1900 it was over 200 and an Infant Room (30' x 18') was added.
From among the early teachers and students we can be proud of such people as Thomas Livingstone (later Minister for Public Instruction in Victoria) , John T Saxton (Chief Inspector of Primary Schools), Miss Mary Lane (a Medical Officer for many years with the Education Department), Arthur Green (Minister for the Presbyterian Church) and more recently Mr. George Moss (M.L.A. Leader of the Country Party), Sir Frank Selleck, (Lord Mayor of Melbourne 1955-57), Mr. Ronald A. Reed (former Senior Master Numurkah H.E.S. who served in the 1960's as Director of Secondary Education) Mr. Harold Krutli (who in 1974 received recognition for 50 years of dental practice in Maryborough Vic).
The H.E.S. (Higher Elementary School) Years 1924 - 1950 As the town and district continued to grow additional rooms were added and some others hired until in the 1920's there was a desire to extend the standard of education offered to the Intermediate Certificate level. Prominent in the Committee work in this move were Messrs F.G. Moss (First School Council Chairman), J.S. Christie whose untimely death in 1926 shocked the district, J. Findlay, A.E. Morris, C. Corlett, G.A. Bedwell, D.F. Rendell, F. A. Guenther, A. Stringer, G. Bitcon, R. J. Barton, C. Hilliard, A.S. Marshall, J.C. Martin. Their efforts were rewarded with the opening of Higher Elementary classes in 1924 with 2 pupils in Form C (Year 10) and 21 pupils in Form D (Year 9). Forms F and E replaced Years 7 and 8 and the students commenced Secondary School courses and subjects. Mr. Timothy Lehane was the Head Teacher during 1924 and he was allotted a Secondary Staff consisting of: Miss F.W. Legg, Mr. J.H. Miller, Mr. Curtain and Mr. Richards.
Pupils for the newly formed Higher Elementary classes were drawn from town and district as follows: Numurkah (2), Wunghnu (1), Strathmerton (1), Drumanure (1), Baulkamaugh (1), Finley (1), Violet Town (1) making a total of 76 pupils.
For a time the new classes were held in one large room and a smaller room of the Presbyterian Hall, but with furniture stacked in corners, easel blackboards and practically no playground space, it was felt better to transfer back to the school site. The situation was very cramped at first but there was the promise of new rooms to be built. Subjects offered to Intermediate Certificate level were: English: Latin (dropped), French, History, Geography, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Science Drawing, Agriculture, Needlework, Hygiene, Signing, Physical Training. The school hoped soon to have rooms for Cookery and Woodwork. It was noted that equipment was meagre although the young Secondary School had to adjust itself to the quite exacting standards of the Melbourne University's external Intermediate Examinations. The first complete Intermediate qualification was obtained at the Public Examinations in 1925.
A big occasion in the life of the School, town and district was the visit on Friday 22nd October 1926, by the Minister for Education, Sir Alexander Peacock for the Official Opening of the new Secondary Classrooms. These had been added in brick construction, as planned to the Primary School unit. Pupils from the district Primary Schools were invited with their teachers and parents and so learned of the new educational opportunities that would be available to them in Numurkah. Shepparton and Nathalia already had Secondary Education.
The newly erected shelter pavilion and the surrounding quadrangle area was the scene of the opening ceremony. A number of distinguished men accompanied Sir Alexander Peacock on the visit. Colonel Bourchier, M.L.A. was well known for his military career, also as a farmer and as a member of our State Parliament where he was then serving as Minister for Agriculture. He had played an active part along with Mr. George Tuckett, M.L.C., in having the secondary classes established. Mr. John T. Saxton was the senior officer of the Education Department in the absence of the famous Director Mr. Frank Tate, from whom an apology had been recorded. Mr. N.C. Heathcote, District Inspector, was present to affirm the commendable enthusiasm that existed locally for the higher stage of education in the district. The Shire President, Cr. James Ball, had received the visitors at a civic luncheon.
Numurkah High School 1951 Much follow up work and investigation had been necessary in pressing the case for a High School. The succeeding Committee Chairman, Mr. W.D. McDonald, and the Correspondent, Mr. G.H. Morieson, supported by their Committee and by district organisations are to be commended on their continuing efforts to have the higher stage of Secondary Education established in Numurkah as soon as possible.
1951 had seen the proclamation of the Numurkah High School with the Primary and Secondary divisions under separate Head Masters, Mr. Arch M. Rogers (B.A., Dip Ed. Secondary) and Mr. William Ross Tennant (Primary). The schools operated on the same site and bore some handicaps as they concentrated upon their separate programmes. Bus services were now well established and the 1952 growth in numbers saw a further bus service, and a two-roomed aluminium unit added as well as the hiring of the Band Hall. Rapid growth continued and a wooden pre-fabricated unit of two classrooms and a staff room met the immediate need.
A new badge had been designed by Bettye Sloley, Form V, using the old motto 'Non Nobis Sed Omnibus' - Not for ourselves but for all.
The School magazine was launched, with the title "Bangerang" being taken from the general name of the nine small tribes of Aborigines found living around the district creeks when white settlement had first entered the area.
HOUSES "Blue House" and "Gold House" were the initial two House divisions for sport until 1951 when the increased enrolment made a division into four houses necessary. It was decided to give the new groups the names of men who gave their lives on active services during World War 2, and whose families have had long associations with the school and district. The names chosen were Christie, Gray, Tweddle and Hunkin. TWEDDLE HOUSE - Charles Joseph Tweddle (1916-1942) was the son of John Charles and Mable Jane Tweddle. The Tweddle family were among the original settlers of Waaia district. Joseph Tweddle made a first selection of land at "Helensvale", Waaia. Charles enlisted in the 2nd AIF 2nd/22nd Infantry, which embarked for Rabaul, New Britain in April 1941. We was among the members of Lark Force taken prisioner in 1942 by the Japanese Army. Charlie was listed as 'lost at sea', having been one of the prisioners aboard the Montevideo Maru, which was sunk when tranporting prisioners to Japan to be use as slave labour. Charlie was devoted to his family and the land, and committed to service to all.
CHRISTIE HOUSE- John (Jack) Scott Christie (1913-1942) was the son of Mrs. Margaret and the late Cr J.S. Christie of Katunga, and a grandson of John Scott Christie who came to the Goulburn Valley in 1876 and first selected land at Yalca. Jack worked on the family farm before enlisting in the 2/24th AIF in 1940. He fought with the 9th Division in the Middle East including at Tobruk. He was wounded in action, and later promoted to Captain in 1941 and mentioned in dispatches for exceptional service. He died of his wounds in 1942 and lies buried in the El Alamein War Cemetary in Egypt. John is remembered as an avid reader, energetic and enthusiastic. He was greatly respected for his care of others, his generosity and sense of responsibility.
HUNKIN HOUSE - Gregory Herbet Hunkin (1924-1944) was the son of Mr. William and Mrs. Evelyn Hunkin of Numurkah. His father was chairman of the School Committee over a period of many years. After completing his education Greg became a teacher. In 1942 he enlisted in the RAAF and was sent to Britain where in 1944 he served in Lancaster bomber squadrons, including being part of the D-Day bombing raids. On 28th June 1944 he was reported "Missing In Action, presumed dead". Greg is remembered as being conscientious, friendly, positive, realistic and always believed in doing his best.
GRAY HOUSE - John Adam Gray (1917-1944) was the son of Mr. Adam and Mrs. Amy Gray of Drumanure. His grandfather, Donald Gray, was a pioneer settler at Tallygaroopna and came to Drumanure in 1887. John joined the 2nd AIF in May 1940 and as a member of the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment he was sent to Singapore and on the 15th February 1942 became a POW in Changi, after the Allied Forces surrendered Singapore to the Japanese Army. After working on the Burma Railway, he fell ill and died in January 1944. He lies buried in the Kanchanabur War Cemetery in Thailand. Johhny was a great sportsman who enjoyed life and is remembered for his loyalty, courage and sense of humour.
WAR CRY (Heard frequently in the 60's) Hoya, hoya, Mulla culla hoya, Wunghnu, Waaia, Bearii, Moira. Near and far from yaly - yaly- Yalca, We are the sports from NUMURKAH!
1956 - 1970 Affluence The years 1956-1970 were growth years: post-war economic growth, population growth, growth in scientific research, and growth in ideas mainly due to improved communication with the advent of television. The first section of the new building, comprising six classrooms and several storerooms was occupied in 1956, the year that Mr. Arthur Hart became Headmaster. The enrolment was 337. There was a steady annual increase in student numbers, and in 1961 the projected enrolment of more than 650 for that year was reached; total enrolment was 651, Form 1 intake was 209, and in Form 1C there were 51 students. Enrolment peaked at 670 in 1962, with 52 students in Form 2P2. The first year of occupation was difficult because of the abnormally wet winter. Duckboards were necessary between bus and building, and gumboots were worn by many students. One junior girl wrote of "The Dangers of Going to School":- "Many people think that going to school is a very easy operation. Well, I can tell you that it is not at all simple. During the floods, armed with raincoats and rubber boots, we set off bravely down the road. After being driven for over a mile, we prepared to go boating. Boating on the way to school, you say. It should have been reported to the headmaster! Well, it was a case of boating or swimming. Across the swiftly running creek we paddled to meet our trusty old friend, the school bus, on the other side. After bumping and rattling over the roads (or canals) we finally reached school to be confronted by more water. It's a wonder we all didn't die of pneumonia".
Comprehensive Secondary Education 1970 Mr. T.G. Lloyd (Principal), Mr. R.B. McGregor (Technical Senior Master) and Mr. A. Ferguson (Secondary School Master) were all new to the school. Miss Cook and Mr Peck were very helpful in maintaining continuity. But the foundation work had been well done. The new leaders had been given opportunities to participate in the final planning and the additional 50 boys who would otherwise have elected to go to a Technical School in Shepparton were among the Numurkah intake figures. Three technical teachers Mr. Mitchell (Woodwork), Mr. Skewes (Science), and Mr. Harrison (Plumbing and Welding), were added to the staff with Mr Gregor and all set about making the school work as a single unit providing a sound basis of Comprehensive Education.
The large volume of innovative thinking must have fallen to Mr. McGregor as he endeavoured to orientate himself and his Technical associates into a new situation. We could have nothing but praise for what they accomplished. By attendance regularly at Advisory Council Meetings, Mr. McGregor was able to help steer the right course and members soon came to respect his grasp of Technical matters. We found also that we had a vey competent all round staff member and leader. Mr. McGregor's position was raised to Vice Principal (Technical) status for 1974 but a few weeks later he was nominated to the Principalship of Wodonga Technical School.
In the meantime through the Technical Branch there had been much immediate upgrading of the practical work rooms and, where necessary, portable rooms were brought in and equipment as a means of getting courses under way. By 1973, besides the Woodwork and Sheetmetal work that could frequently be included in normal High School programmes, this School was offering Graphic Communication, Turning and Fitting, Automotive Practice, Welding, Plumbing Practices, Engineering Graphics, Building Graphics, as well as additional experiences in the Art-Craft field. There were in that year 10 Technical Staff members in a full staff of 48 teachers.
A great deal of consideration had been given to the type of permanent unit to be supplied to the Numurkah High School so that it could do the complete Comprehensive job. Ultimately a large unit was decided upon to consist of 9 classrooms together with some 15 store rooms, machine shops and offices. The contract was let to Bruni and Bisogni of Cobram who commenced the layout on 7th June 1973 with a view to having the unit available to the school early in 1974. The cost of the new unit was to be $416,720.00
During these years of new grown the total school attendance had risen to a new height of 7211 pupils in 1973 with the possibility of further growth to come. The effect of this increase was felt in all departments of the school and by 1972 the Principal and Advisory Council had to make known these further accommodation suggestions - Two additional Science Rooms (Portables in use), Commonwealth Library Unit, Home economics Extensions (two rooms obtained by modifying the Practice Flat), Office Extensions, Staffroom upgraded, Five General Classrooms on the "C" wing and further specialized rooms extended on to Block "B".
During these recent years the Advisory Council has been able to get on with the development of the additional block of playing fields land. Some P.W.D. assistance was offered wit the general plan and a P.W.D. Contract was undertaken to clear the concrete obstructions that remained after the removal of the State rivers and Water Supply Commission's quarters and other associated buildings. It was soon found that the existing lines of water pipe could not be readily utilized as part of a permanent irrigation system but it was found that a quantity of piping had saleable value among local farmers for dairy yard and other purposes. It was not possible to interest a timber miller in the 40 odd Murray Pines and other trees and the clearing of these was a gesture undertaken by the Advisory Council Chairman, Mr. J.T. Christie. Some working bee activity was possible at different stages by both parents and students.
It is realized that the proprietors of school buses have made their contribution to the expansion of Secondary education in Numurkah. By 1972 there were 14 buses serving this fairly closely settled district, while other services continue the link with the Shepparton Technical School courses.
The opening of the Technical Workshops Block was reserved for Thursday 27th March 1975, in order that site works could be completed and in order that we could co-ordinate our opening with the general Numurkah Centenary Celebrations. Preparations were planned with Mr. Norm Seymour, Technical Vice Principal, since September 1974 Assistant the Principal and Advisory Council as organiser. With the help of staff, students, school organizations and the Centenary Committee, interest was aroused to ensure on impressive opening ceremony.
On Easter Saturday 1975, there were Back to Schools occasions as part of the Numurkah Centenary celebrations. The visitor were encouraged to return to all schools, but to join together for a bbq lunch at the High School quadrangle and cafeteria. Hundreds took advantage of the pleasant conditions as Apex Club Members joined a large proportion of the teachers in making them welcome. Very happy reunions took place.
Easter Monday saw an entertaining procession of floats depicting many features of the district's life and history Students joined with their own group ventures including a birthday cake float representing the 100 years of settlement and the 50 years of secondary education.
Numurkah students seem ready to recognize education as a many sided set of experience involving work play and a helping hand for those in need. We would be glad to see this attitude prevail into the following fifty years of our school's history. We trust that many of today's students will be the ones who will made that evaluation in the year 2024 A.D.
Numurkah Secondary College Address: 104 Tocumwal Road Numurkah Victoria 3636 Australia Postal: PO Box 229, Numurkah Victoria 3636 Australia Phone: (03) 5862 1088 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org