Celebrating 150 years

By Ewen McRae

A century and a half after it first opened its doors, Toolern Vale and District Primary School is ready to celebrate.

The school community, old and young, will gather on November 15 to look back on 150 years of education and memories, with several generations of former students among those attending.

Robert Tolley was the second of four generations of his family to attend the school when he started there in 1953. He said he had fond memories of his time there.

“I have many good memories from those years,” Mr Tolley said. “It’s all a bit different looking around now, but I remember getting our polio needles up at the front gate, and digging the hole to put the can in for the toilet, and running through the orchard next door to nick the fruit. It was a lot of fun.

“I remember one day someone had escaped from jail and we had a helicopter land at the church across the road, which was very exciting for us all. I’ll never forget that.”

The school had just seven students when Mr Tolley was there, but now has more than 170 enrolled. And while the school previously had just one building (which burnt down in 1965) and no power, there are now several classrooms at the campus.

For teacher Kelly Busuttil, the school is more than just a place of learning, it’s like a family.

“The school means a lot to me because it is like a family … It’s a special place, and it might sound a bit corny but it’s got that vibe that makes people feel connected to it and value it.”

The school will have a celebration of its history from 2.15pm to 7pm on November 15 at the school.

Details: toolernvale150year@outlook.com or 9746 1312.