Interview with Principal Jo Boland and P&C President Aspen Charlesworth. Celebrations: October 1st 2016.
Hi Jo. What can you tell us about the history of Elands Public School?
In 1914, an application for Half-Time schools at Bulgong and Doyle’s River was granted in November of that year. Elands Public School was originally known as Bulgong Public School. Bulgong School was built in 1916 and started operating the same year. The schoolroom was constructed of split slabs, on wooden stumps, with an iron gabled roof and measured 4.8 m X 4.8 m.
There were sixteen students originally enrolled, consisting of six families. Mr Angus Rose was in charge of both Bulgong and Doyle’s River schools. In 1924 the school became known as Elands Public School, in the previous year Doyle’s River school changed its name to Glenwarrin Public School; this school eventually closed in 1970.
How long have you been the principal at Elands, and what have been some of the biggest changes you’ve witnessed during your time at the school?
I was appointed as Principal of Elands Public School in July 2013 and commenced duties at the beginning of Term 3 that year. Currently the school has eighteen students enrolled. Three days per week we split the infants and primary classes for literacy and numeracy. I take the K – 2 class, and Andrina Sheahan teaches the Years 3 – 6. On the remaining days (and afternoons), the two classes combine for other lessons and activities, which Andrina and I teach on alternate days.
I wouldn’t say there have been major changes made at the school in the past three years, just more of a steady influx of the reliance upon technology to be integrated into lesson plans and activities, and also the implementation of the new Australian Curriculum has created opportunities to refresh and invigorate one’s approach to planning and teaching.
What do you feel are some of the school’s/school community’s greatest strengths?
As part of my research into the events and activities of the past 100 years at the school, it has been mentioned and recorded a number of times how the community has actively supported and valued the school. This is still very much evident today, and even more so with the preparations for the centenary celebrations. We have community members on the centenary committee, teaching students sewing, knitting and basket weaving, donating or making beautiful handmade items for the centenary memorabilia and raffle, as well as running barbecues to raise money for the centenary funds. With their knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm, we have the makings of a memorable milestone event that we (as a whole community) can share in and be proud of.
As the school gears up to celebrate its centenary, what are your goals for the greater school community moving forward?
This coming event will provide an opportunity for the younger members of the school and the newer members of the community to learn about the history of the area and the school and to also see what can be achieved by working together, accepting others’ differences and opinions, looking for the positives, not the negatives to achieve set goals, and value the importance of celebrating significant milestones.
These are the ideals that have always been the underlying strength in this eclectic community. As new people join us and younger generations move back, choosing to live and work here, we are optimistic that these ideals will be passed on, so that the community continues to be strong, tolerant and vibrant.
Hi Aspen. What types of activities/responsibilities does the Elands Public School P&C committee typically undertake?
Elands Public School is a small school in a beautiful, rural community in the Upper Manning Valley, 40 km west of Wingham. The nature of the mountain road means the relative isolation is greater than the distance suggests.
The small P&C Committee work hard to bring in extra funds, which provides a more enriching educational experience for the children. Travel fees are a predominant cost, bringing programmes to the school, such as gymnastics, dance and music, as well as excursions.
Excursions are of particular importance to students living in remote areas, as they provide a great opportunity for the children to interact with the wider community and form bonds with other small schools in the region.
As part of our extra fundraising to assist with the centenary, community members have generously donated their time, skills and gifts. It is wonderful to see the community of Elands support this historic occasion.
The P&C committee has been busy organising a special centenary celebration for the school. Firstly, where and when will the celebrations take place?
The Centenary Celebration will be held at Elands Public School on the 1st October, from 10am ‘til 4pm. This event is free. The school is located in the village of Elands, less than a minute’s drive from the majestic Ellenborough Falls, on the Tourist Drive No. 8.
What are some of various activities/forms of entertainment that have been organised?
The celebration will include performances by past and present students, fun stalls, old time games like sack races, three legged race, tunnel ball, captain ball and more. The community has also been working hard to collect historic memoirs and audio/video recordings from people who attended schools in Elands and the Bulga from the 1920s to recent times, which will be presented on the day and made available in a book form.
The Bulga Soldiers Memorial Hall (in Elands) is joining the school celebrations by holding a Photographic Exhibition and Bush Dance at the Hall. It starts at 4pm with Wingsong Choir, followed by twenties music, a bush dance, then rock ‘n’ roll with Red Cedar Band, and will continue into the night with local bands and DJs. Dinner from 6:30pm is $10. Dance from 5pm is $15; concession $10.
All this is happening on the Bulga Plateau October 1st 2016 – if you would like to make a weekend of it, there is camping available. Ring Jane on 6550 4402 or Barbara on 6550 4429.
Where do readers find out more info about the celebration?
For more information, call the Elands Public School 6550 4557 or check out Facebook.com/elandspscentenary
Thanks Jo and Aspen.