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Early years at Naracoorte South Primary School

From The Centenary of Primary School in Naracoorte 1879-1979 by Steven Findlay

I was transferred to Naracoorte in May of 1963 to be attached to Naracoorte Primary school to prepare for the opening of the new Naracoorte South Primary School “ in 4 or 5 weeks”, to quote the Education Department. This estimate proved over-optimistic, as the building was not ready for occupation until the beginning of Term III in September. Meanwhile Alick Kies, then Head Master at Naracoorte Primary, and I occupied our time in selecting the children who would attend the new school and completing the necessary paper work for their transfer. It was decided that all the children who came by buses from outside the town would continue to attend the original school, and the new school would cater for those who lived in or near the southern area of the town. The Infant School then at Rolland Street was closed and the pupils and staff from there divided between the old and new primary schools. The additional staff needed for the South School were transferred from among those at the old primary school.

We opened the school with 10 classes, and original teachers were: Dick Edwards, Bob Philip, Barbara Holmes, Pat Armour, Ashley Durham, Ursula Lisners (Gicasvilli), Hazel Newell, Mollie Nixon, Lois Page, Marilyn Grigg. Apart from the main building, the shelter shed and the paved area around these, there were no improvements within the fenced grounds, and the oval area had been roughly levelled only. Hence improving the grounds, consisting entirely of loose, sandy soil was a top priority. The site had in earlier days been used for rubbish disposal, and when we moved in pieces of broken glass and other objects, such as old sanitary pans from the pre-sewer era were continually surfacing under the wear and tear of many hundreds of feet playing on the sandy ground each day.

In the first months, to overcome this problem, frequent “emu” parades were held, when the whole school was lined up and marched slowly across the grounds to pick up all foreign objects. These parades usually netted several buckets of glass plus assorted scrap metal. I recall an incident when a couple of big boys were sent by Dick Edwards to dig a hole in a far corner of the grounds to bury collected rubbish. One of them, Nigel Fosdike, returned in some excitement bearing a double armful of very large bones, including a skull, which he had unearthed. He thought they might be dinosaur bones, and Dick, after examining the skull, informed him that they were from a Clydesdale dinosaur.

I was fortunate in those first years in having enthusiastic and energetic school committees ably led initially by John Clarkson, followed by Jim DeGaris. In comparatively short time hundreds of tons of loam had been placed on the oval, it had been planted with grass, and spray irrigation system complete with electric pressure pump and storage tank installed. At the same time lawns were established around the main building and trees planted. Another major project soon carried out, mainly with parent labour over weekends was the paving and fencing of the basketball and tennis courts. The concrete cricket pitch was similarly completed one weekend. In this project some financial genius was shown by the then treasurer of the School Committee, Bruce Thompson, who when all accounts had been settled and subsidies received, was able to report that the school had not only acquired a cricket pitch, but had also made a profit of 14 pounds on the deal.

I also received excellent support from the Welfare Club, formed in September 1963 with Helen Jacobs as the first President. The ladies worked hard and successfully to raise money for the provision of amenities within the school and to assist the committee with funds for grounds improvement.

An important event was the Official Opening of the school by the Governor of S.A., Sir Edric Bastyan. This incorporated a Civic welcome to the Governor by the Mayor of Naracoorte, and for the occasion all the school children form Naracoorte, both Primary and Secondary, plus those from surrounding country schools were assembled at the South School. Although opening the new school meant some long hours of hard work, especially in the early months, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My task was made easier by the loyal support of the staff and the friendliness, enthusiasm and co-operation of the parents. Mrs Keane and I look back with pleasure on the years spent in Naracoorte and still number among our friends many of those we met then.

K J Keane.

Principals at Naracoorte South Primary School

1963-1968 Ken Keane

1968-1971 Les Schliebs

1972-1977 Mostyn Schneider

1978-1986 – Ian Martin

1986-2004 Derek Blackwell

July 2004 – Dec 2004 Michaela Ford (Acting)

2005 - Jim McConnell

2006 - Anna Young

Flinders University Education Award Winner – Naracoorte South Primary School 2012

Naracoorte South Primary School was established almost 50 years ago and is set in 4.5 hectares of native scrub. Used for a hands-on approach to the environmental science curriculum, it includes an environmental enclosure complete with hens, fruit and vegetables that supply their canteen. The school is recognised nationally as a lead school in improving literacy outcomes and employs a literacy coach and mathematics coach to ensure the best outcome for their students. They also run the Community Toy Library and the ‘Jiggle and Wiggle’ program for children aged three months to three years and have a number of volunteers helping with classroom activities. In the past 12 months, Naracoorte South Primary School was invited to showcase their innovations at a national forum in Brisbane, and to present their journey in literacy improvement at the Adelaide Literacy and Numeracy Expo and the Limestone Coast Leaders Day.

50th Anniversary Celebrations

Registrations form can be downloaded below.

Please email to or post to PO Box 746, Naracoorte, S.A., 5271.

More information to follow. Stay tuned.

Registration Form


Last updated 9th May, 2013

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