Walking through the gates of Norville State School to celebrate 50 years since it opened was a trip down memory lane for many teachers, students and families.
Old friends found familiar faces in the crowd and conversed about the good old days in the school yard, while a new generation was eager to show off the transition that had occurred over half a century.
Whether it was one of the school’s longest serving and original teachers, Keith Oliver – who affectionately became known as Mr Norville – or a student who turned to a life of education, the community turned out in droves to celebrate on Saturday.
Travelling from Toowoomba for the golden jubilee, Norville State School’s second principal Alan Searle recalled his four years spent at the school in the early 1970s.
“Norville was the most prestigious school in the region for its time,” Alan said.
“We had about 550 students and about 25 teachers, I have wonderful memories of this school, and it’s definitely grown a lot since then.”
Wendy Spargo was one of the original teachers, she remembered the first week the school opened as if it were yesterday.
“I was here day one, there had just been a cyclone up north, and they were crazy days,” she said.
“We didn’t have furniture, the place was awash with mud – so no furniture, mud and kids!
“I was here for five-and-a-half years, and they were great years.
“It’s very special to return today to see so many familiar faces, families and students.”
From a student to a teacher, Wendy Galea, nee Smith, has seen the growth of Norville State School like no one else.
Wendy enrolled at Norville in 1971 when she was in Year 6, and then she went on to teach at the school for 33 years, before stepping into an administration role for the past eight years.
She has children and grandchildren who also walked through the school gates as students, and Wendy recalls her time fondly.
Wendy said it had been a fantastic 50 years at Norville State School, and she paid tribute to founding principal Ron Lester, before sharing her fond memories.
“Ron was a friendly, caring man, who knew everyone. He always greeted us with a friendly smile and hello each morning,” Wendy said.
“What an amazing 50 years, from old school writing and reading through to modern technology – Norville has progressed with the times.
“Fifty years ago, when Norville opened it was the first modern, open-planned school with large carpeted rooms, wet areas, and even the kitchen sink.”
As a student she recalled the blue and white uniform, colours that remain today, and the small bottles of milk that were given out freely from the tuckshop.
“We had blue and white striped uniforms and usually no shoes – resulting in skinned toes and sore feet!” Wendy said.
“A small bottle of milk was available for free at tuckshop most mornings, was usually warm by the time we drank it.”
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey attended the special occasion saying he had always admired the Norville spirit.
“Congratulations to the Norville State School community on the momentous occasion of celebrating its 50th anniversary,” he said.
“I’ve always admired the Norville spirit. I see Norville as a friendly school and a clever school.
“Over five decades the teachers and staff, volunteers, parents and children have succeeded in a spirit of cooperation to achieve a shared goal of educating our young people to realise their best potential.
“Many students have gone onto great things, contributing in different ways to society, building families and communities.
“Norville has always been a big achiever in academic success, the arts and sport.
“Importantly, Norville people are friendly people who care about others.”