Cat Stevens’ song, ‘Remember the days of the old school yard’, is especially poignant for Bill Bishop and Runa Cairns, Goondiwindi locals who both attended the local state school in the 1920s.

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The pair will be amongst the oldest previous Goondiwindi State School students who share in the school’s 150-year celebrations this September. The Goondiwindi State School was established by a committee of local patrons who paid 113 pounds to the Board of General Education. The official opening on the 1st of September 1864 saw 29 students attend the school, who were taught by head teacher William Deacon. In 1865, four weatherboard class rooms and a teacher’s residence were erected, one of which still stands today and has housed a 150 years of education. Although hitching rails have been replaced by bike racks and chalk board slates by laptops, the goal of providing the best possible education to all children in the Goondiwindi community remains the same.

The longevity and success of the Goondiwindi State School has been greatly influenced by the loyalty and commitment of its staff. None more so than Deputy Principal Lew Verney, who has dedicated more than 23 years to the school he loves. His passion for the school is palpable and he sees the 150-year anniversary as “a celebration of where the school has come from and its place in the centre of the Goondiwindi community. I especially love to see previous students who return to Gundy State as teachers themselves.”

At 96, Runa Cairns is the oldest previous Goondiwindi State School student who will be attending the 150-year celebrations. Runa’s daughter and granddaughter also attended the school and remarkably two of her great granddaughters are there today.

Although a little younger at 91 years of age, Bill Bishop also has a long and extensive history with Goondiwindi State School. Bill was enrolled in 1928 while his wife Barbara Bishop (nee Marquard) was in 1930. The records show that Barbara’s mother Ivy had been enrolled in the Goondiwindi State School in 1905. With his great grandchild having also attended the school in 2004, five generations of Bishops have been educated at Goondiwindi State School.

To recognise this remarkable achievement, Goondiwindi State School will be hosting an action packed weekend in September starting on Friday the 19th at 6pm with a Meet and Greet at the school. The annual ‘Gundy State Fantastic Fete’ is on Saturday the 20th which will include a ‘Time Capsule Dedication’ plus school and classroom tours.

The celebrations will culminate on Saturday evening with a Cocktail Party at the Goondiwindi Community Centre, where there will be displays of memorabilia and a souvenir historical book will be available for sale. This will be a wonderful night of dancing and sharing precious memories with old school friends.

Goondiwindi State School is proud of its 150-year history of educating the children of Goondiwindi. It is a loyal and confident school community which is happy to shout: “It’s Just Great at Gundy State”.

Words by Mandie O’Shea