Lambton Public School just celebrated its 150th anniversary (which makes it a fairly old school for Australia) with a range of community events. On Friday there was a parade down the main street and it was wonderful seeing all the people cheering the kids on and so many of the shops decked out in green and red (the school colours).
On Saturday there was a school fete, and the perfect weather ensured the community showed up in force. Every class performed, as well as the school band, choirs, some ex-students (including Jasmine) and a couple of community groups. There were also a few other smaller events for ex-students and teachers.
It highlighted for me, once again, the important role schools play in community life.
As part of a book about the school’s 150 history, I was asked to contribute some reflections on my time at the school. The following is based on these reflections.
Cathy and I became involved with the school when Jasmine, our daughter, started Kindergarten in 2006, and I attended the first P&C (Parent’s and Citizens Association) meeting after she started school. I have attended regularly ever since, although next term will be my last as Alexa, our other daughter, starts at Lambton High next year. While both girls were at the school (2009-2012) I acted as the P&C President.
In the early 2000s the school’s reputation had reportedly suffered a bit. The principal at the time, Mr Robson, was keen to turn this around by building stronger connections with the school community, amongst other things. Mr Robson had an open door policy and was often seen at the pedestrian crossing in Croudace Street after school which helped create a welcoming environment.
Encouraged by Mr Robson the P&C had quite a focus on community building and encouraging parental involvement through parent helpers in Kindergarten to Year 4, the school canteen and uniform shop, helping with excursions, and organising fundraising and community building events.
Some events, such as twilight markets and trivia nights, contributed to both fundraising and community building, while others, such as the Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day breakfasts (which I helped initiate in 2008) focused on community building.
In the following year, the P&C received a small grant from the NRMA to start the LEAP Frog Food and Art Garden which was the site of numerous working bees and other events. A mosaics workshop creating pavers during the school holidays (organised by Cathy) was attended by over 75 people, and there were other workshops on making robots out of recycled materials for the school grounds and creating something new out of old clothes. Unfortunately the garden didn’t live up to its potential but it has still been a valuable asset to the school and it was great to see the work recently done by some parents (with some funding from the P&C) to revive it.
This period built on the work of previous years and left both physical and other legacies. The fundraising efforts left a physical legacy still appreciated by students today as they allowed all classrooms to be air-conditioned and to have a smart board. For me though, the more important legacy was building on the schools’ tradition of parental involvement which continues to be seen through parents being consulted about school issues, working with teacher through the school grounds committee, and school community events.
As I often said in the newsletter and P&C meetings, “We know that school-family partnerships contribute to positive outcomes for students both educationally and socially.” I hope that the school and P&C continue to see parents as central to the success of the school, to encourage parental involvement in the school and to foster a strong school community.
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