Stawell school reunion gathers momentum

STAWELL - Stawell Technical School celebrates its one hundred and thirtieth anniversary this year and students past and present will be gathering for a reunion to celebrate.

The reunion will include students from the Stawell High School, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, with celebrations set to take place on Sunday, October 13.

The following was compiled by former Tech student Terry Court, who now lives in Tatura and will be attending the reunion.

It's a while ago since I started at the Tech but I still have fond memories of my six years there. In the early sixties the smart boys went to the High - destined to be the next generation of doctors, lawyers and the like, while the rest of us toddled off to the Tech, for a less glamorous future.

However, we were all fortunate as the sixties provided abundant opportunities - if we wanted them. Tech education was being reborn across the state to cater for vast increases in student numbers. This wave of students swept into the technical system with vigor - testing the system and facilities in all schools including the state's smallest Tech, Stawell. The students of the sixties are now what everyone calls 'baby boomers'.

In 1964 the Tech gained a new principal, John Kennedy, the 1961 Hawthorn premiership coach. John would stay at the Tech for a little over three years, during which he gained a master of education, coached Stawell and then in 1967 was reappointed Hawthorn coach. He left an indelible mark on all boys at the Tech. He was supported magnificently by a dedicated team of teachers and support staff, some I will never forget.

In 1966 the Tech first 18 footy team beat the High for the first time in living memory; much to the disappointment of the academics at the High. The win still causes senior locals, beaten by a better side, to wake in fright 47 years on.

To be fair, the 1967 rematch was a draw: but a new era had begun and the Tech could no longer be taken lightly. The competition between the Tech and High was fierce but forgotten at weekends when we pursued common goals playing for either North, South, East or West at North Park.

The High did have one clear advantage. Girls attended the High and most boys at the Tech - including yours truly - really did not know what girls were in those early years. In was only after the age of 16 that the desire to make contact with the opposite sex overpowered the commitment to true mateship. At this stage of their development, senior students were known to frequent the front office seeking the guidance a very attractive member of staff.

Returning to John Kennedy -the following is an extract John's principal report in the 1965 Reefs magazine:

"Our chief educational aim ought to insist on the dignity of all people and on their development as human beings. We ought to be moved by their degradation whether through hunger, war or 'mass production slavery. We should have reason for giving priority to such an aim, and then by making it pervade our school instruction, organization and discipline, we may be able to develop in the boys a will to help less fortunate people as distinct from a knowledge of how to do so." Quite profound!

That statement was made when the world population was 3.4 billion, a little less than half it is today. I wonder if we have realised John's aim.

I spoke to John, a man now well into his 80s, a couple of weeks ago. He cannot make the reunion but wished everyone all the best.

I hope to see you there on the 13th.. It will be great chance to catch up with old friends.

You can register by calling the Stawell Secondary College or go to Stawell Reunion on Facebook.

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