COLOURFUL PAST: An aerial photo of Gympie West State School for the 25th Anniversary booklet, taken in 1983.
COLOURFUL PAST: An aerial photo of Gympie West State School for the 25th Anniversary booklet, taken in 1983. Contributed

Steady growth at Gympie West

AFTER the construction of the Nestle's factory in Pine Street, it soon became apparent there was a need for another Gympie primary school.

With the central school already at capacity, the MLA for Gympie at the time, Mr G B Kehoe, wrote to the Department of Education to put the wheels in motion in October, 1954.

He commented that residential development in that area was progressing rapidly, and was likely to be given a great boost when the Nestle's factory opened in 1955.

A month later the site was chosen but construction on the four classrooms, office, staffroom, library room, sickbay and storeroom didn't begin until mid 1957.

The school was allocated £16,500 for the project and was opened on January 28, 1958 by the first principal, Kenneth Hugh Brown Johnston.

READ ABOUT THE HISTORY OF JAMES NASH STATE HIGH SCHOOL HERE.

With just under 100 students, the school began its life with four teachers, one of whom was Mr Brian Kidd.

"The school was constructed on the then outskirts of the northern side of Gympie and to get to it one had to wend a way along a bush track, through a gully and up a hill to the building,” he said in 1983, on the 25th anniversary.

He recalls the first day of school as being hectic and said one of the parents provided the first broom for the school.

"This was used to sweep out the classrooms so that furniture could be installed and school begin,” he said.

Although there were only four classrooms, there were seven grades, with composite classes created.

The minister for education, J C A Pizzey, conducted the official opening on Saturday June 7, 1958.

By mid 1961, attendance had climbed to 162 students and in October a fifth teacher was added to the staff with a temporary classroom established under the school.

By the following April the school got approval to erect a new wing with another classroom and a head teacher's office and another storeroom.

Class numbers continued to rise and a sixth teacher was added to the school staff in 1963.

A sixth permanent classroom was added and a teacher's residence was completed on April 22, 1964.

By the start of the school year in 1967, enrolment numbers had reached 265 and a seventh teacher was added to the staff.

Whenever a new teacher was added, the temporary classroom below the school was put into action until such time as a new classroom could be constructed.

READ ABOUT THE HISTORY OF GYMPIE HIGH SCHOOL HERE.

The seventh classroom was completed in late 1967 and approval was given to construct a second temporary classroom.

Rumours had surfaced that North Deep Creek School was expected to close in the near future and student numbers at Gympie West were likely to receive a boost. It was around this time the original temporary classroom became the library.

In April, 1968, the minister for education approved the removal of closed North Deep Creek State School buildings to Gympie West.

These buildings were in excellent condition and increased the size of Gympie West by another classroom, a 14x18 ft library and a 8x7 ft storeroom.

A time capsule was buried in 1983 and then reopened and added to at the 50th anniversary in 2008. It is due to be reopened again at the 75th anniversary in 2033.
A time capsule was buried in 1983 and then reopened and added to at the 50th anniversary in 2008. It is due to be reopened again at the 75th anniversary in 2033. Contributed

Brian Kidd was one of several teachers to teach at Gympie West and served the school for at least the first 25 years and also organised sport for the local and district schools for many years.

Margaret Tompkins, Carmel Wooding, Robert Hood, Peter Kenny, Peggy Long and Helen Bartlett all served the school over extended periods and are no doubt familiar names to former students from the early days.

By 1982, numbers had climbed to 418 students and a special education centre and a pre-school were created on the school grounds.

Next year the school will celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Gympie Times


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