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Yamba Public School’s student leaders, (l-r) Toby Austin, Erin Shugg, Zahri Berry and Nick Bowen, led the march through the streets of Yamba, with relieving principal Debbie Woods (far right). Pic: Geoff Helisma

Yamba Public re-enacts walk to ‘new school’

Yamba Public School’s student leaders, (l-r) Toby Austin, Erin Shugg, Zahri Berry and Nick Bowen, led the march through the streets of Yamba, with relieving principal Debbie Woods (far right). Pic: Geoff Helisma
Yamba Public School’s student leaders, (l-r) Toby Austin, Erin Shugg, Zahri Berry and Nick Bowen, led the march through the streets of Yamba, with relieving principal Debbie Woods (far right). Pic: Geoff Helisma

Geoff Helisma

“It was a special day; I will remember this for as long as I live,” is how Marika Laurie described Yamba Public School’s re-enactment of the day when students and teachers walked from their old school to the new one.
On August 28, 1990 the school’s students, teachers and parents walked from their old school, where the bowling club now stands: up Coldstream Street to the CBD, turning left into Yamba Street, then left again along Wooli Street to the Angourie Road intersection and on to their brand new school.
On that day 25 years ago kindergarten students Marika Laurie and Daniel Webb cut the ribbon to unofficially open the school.
“It was a fair few years ago; I can’t remember it all but it was a good walk – I think [the walk] was longer this time, but I’m a bit older now,” Marika joked.
“It was a special day; I remember one of the teachers grabbing me from the front of the pack and giving me a pair of scissors to cut the ribbon. [We] just cut the ribbon.”
Maureen Curtin was the teacher who last shut the door to the old school – it was a day, she confessed, that she shed a tear. “That was a part of the ceremony, that we closed the door of the old school, and then we walked around to here,” she said.
“Marika was chosen because she was the youngest girl in kindergarten, and that other fellow, Daniel, he wasn’t here for long. I don’t remember him but I remember Marika.
“I am a bit sad, but I’m just very happy that after 25 years I can still walk [from the old school site to Yamba Public School], although it did feel a lot longer walking it today than it did back then.”
The school’s relieving principal, Debbie Woods, said the day “went really well and had a lovely community feel; I think the kids really enjoyed it”.
“They were impressed with the highway patrol stopping the traffic and people coming out of the shops and clapping them – they thought that was pretty special,” Ms Woods said.
“It was a great chance for them to look into history and see how far their school has come; and for them to also think about the future: what will it be like in 25 years from now?”
Ian Causley, who was the state member at the time of the school’s move, recalled his significant political involvement in building the new school.
“When I was first elected in 1984, Yamba was waiting for a school,” he said. “In 1988 we won government, so I was responsible for it then; I was the local member.
“I went to Terry Metherell, he was minister for education, but there was no money available; we would have to wait to get a new school at Yamba.
“I also knew that the bowling club wanted to expand and build a new clubhouse.
“So I struck a deal with the bowling club. I said: ‘Look, if you buy the old school site for a million dollars, I might be able to do a deal with Terry Metherell.’
“So that’s what happened; they agreed to do that for the sake of the community.
“The bowling club thought [the price] was a bit [high], but I went back to Terry Metherell and said: ‘Okay, I’ve got a deal, we’ll give you a million dollars for the old school block, as long as you build a new school at Yamba. He said: ‘You’ve got a deal.’
“It’s fantastic you know, I was just commenting, even when the school was opened there were still demountables; so obviously we didn’t think far enough ahead.
“It is fantastic because, in my time, I can remember Yamba school being much smaller; it’s a great school and I think they have looked after it well.
“I’m touched that I was invited back because, yes, I had a lot to do with it in the beginning.”
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan was on hand, too; he told a story about a man he met three weeks ago, who had achieved great things as a result of pursuing his dreams.
The son of refugees who fled from Vietnam, leaving all of their worldly possession behind, he was in the middle of a university course when he decided he wanted to be a magician.
His parents, who had worked so hard to enable him to attend university, were surprised, to say the least.
However, after some discussion, the parents told the student that they supported his decision; telling him, Mr Hogan said: ‘We left Vietnam so you could be free to make your own decisions.
‘You can jump as high as you like and we will be your net.’
These days the man is a successful magician and motivational speaker.
Mr Hogan acknowledged in his speech that the school’s students, their parents and grandparents were, indeed, the students’ nets.
He encouraged the student body to have high aspirations as they look towards their future while completing their education.

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