Widgee school celebrates 125 years
THE grounds at Widgee State School have certainly changed a lot since 1892, but in that time one thing has remained consistent.
Last weekend saw current and former teachers, students and parents head back to the school in a very special 125th birthday party - with many remembering a fantastic place to grow up and learn.
"I started school here in 1959, my children went here as well and I was also a school cleaner for a time as well,” Sherry Fuller said.
"We've been connected with the school for a long time and it's always been a great school.”
The day was electric, featuring activities, art displays, animal encounters and live music from local favourites The Hillbilly Goats.
For many younger attendees and current students at Widgee, unrestricted access to the school's playground all day was an equally attractive option for entertainment.
Ms Fuller remembered a one-teacher school where students learned to swim in the nearby lake.
"Stuff that wouldn't happen now for sure,” she laughed.
"But honestly, I remember there being around 35 kids in the school - it's definitely a bit different now.”
Still, there are certainly parts of school life at Widgee that are completely different from what a student in Brisbane would experience.
Case in point: snake watch.
"Well I remember telling some students to stand on their chairs, very quietly whenever a snake came past,” former teacher Colleen Godsen said.
"So there was that on top of your fire drills and the like.”
Former principal Robert Lonergan remembered a cavalcade of local wildlife during his tenure at Widgee School, including a small furry blur zipping across the school oval.
"Koalas running that way, cattle running that way, kangaroos running that way,” he said.
A member of the rural fire brigade, Mr Lonergan would often have to depart from class to battle a bushfire.
"But it wasn't a big deal,” Ms Godsen said.
"It was fine because it always felt like a community here.”
This tight-knit approach to school life and learning has clearly left a mark on faculty past and present.
For Mr Lonergan, who is now principal at a school in Logan, the chance to apply the skills he learned in Widgee was one he jumped at.
Still, there are some things you just can't replicate in an inner-suburb school, with a practical approach to education taking full advantage of local flora and fauna.
"I remember the kids going down and making baskets out of the vines from the cat's claw by the creek,” former teacher Joanne Cronin said.
"The students will often go down and make the most of their local area,” Ms Cronin said.