Published: 27 March 2018

I was honoured, as a past student, to be invited to officially open the Riana Primary School's new Parent Room and Student Gallery on the 23rd March. 

The Riana Area School was established in 1839 and has a tradition of providing quality state funded education for students in Years K to 6 from the surrounding community. 

In the early days education was provided through to year 10. 

The school is 179 years old. I think we should pause to consider how many people have had the benefit of a public education at this site. 

I personally have this school to thank for such a great start to my education – I am proud to be a product of our Public Education System.

My family has been involved with the school for many years. My dad Keith was a student in the mid 1930’s. His siblings also attended and my mum Margaret has been a relief teacher here. 

My siblings also spent all their primary education years here before going to Ulverstone High in the case on my older sister Marie and I and my younger brothers Peter and Don to Penguin High which was just built with Peter being in the first group if students attending.

Since then my nephews, Matthew and Alex have completed their primary education here with Mum back again doing grandparent help!

When I was here we had six separate classrooms for grades 1-6 with a kinder/prep area and there were some secondary students who continued on to year 10 in other classrooms. Secondary education ceased at this site, I am not sure exactly when, resulting in a change from Riana Area School to Riana Primary School. 

I thought I might share a few memories of my time at this wonderful school before focussing on the new facilities which I must say are just lovely!

I was talking to mum about my memories on the phone and suggested I tell how you all about how I would have been the perfect student! 

I could almost hear her rolling her eyes! It is possibly a good thing there is no-one here to confirm or deny this statement, as if my challenging behaviour at home was any guide, I may well have been a handful!

I do remember a couple of significant events I would like to relate – one being watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon for the very first time. 

This occurred during school time so the whole school was packed into the library – the size of one classroom at the end of the top corridor and put in lines from youngest class to oldest – remembering there were some senior students at the school then – it was very crowded as we sat and stood in hushed silence to watch history unfold. 

We were packed in to watch this historic occasion on the one small black and white TV the school had on one of those old stands to watch this incredible moment in history.

I also remember being forced to drink sachets of flavoured and very sweet milk at recess that had been left in the sun all morning, was warm and totally revolting leaving me feeling ill for much of the day. Allegedly it was good for us! Even though most of us were from diary farms who had access to and drank plenty of fresh milkl!

I remember thinking it was such a long walk down to the rec ground and back up and can’t believe how those trees have grown! 

I also recall breaking my arm when I fell off the monkey bars one icy morning when I was actually doing the right thing on them rather than climbing on the top as I usually did, and ending up in hospital missing the fancy dress ball – which I was devastated about.

I remember winning dux of Grade 1 and wondering why it was so good to be a duck!

These were good times with all the usual school happy and challenging times. Bullying was a problem then as it is now though it is so much worse now with cyberbullying and something we must do so much more about. We must support all out students and act on these real challenges our children and grandchildren face. 

We must also continue to value and support public education and our teachers and support staff. There are so many demands on teachers now and such high expectations. 

We need to work together as a community to support and enhance public education.

Active and supported parent bodies are a vital part of this. I commend and thank all those involved in the education of our children who are our future. You have an enormous responsibility and I thank you for all you do. There is significant evidence to support the fact that children of parents and carers who are actively engaged in the child’s education do better educationally and socially. 

I remember when I as a student here there was an active Parents and Friends Association and Mothers’ Club which of course my hard working and dedicated mum was involved in! 

She recalls meeting in the staff room and having to work around the challenges of a shared space which I am sure has been one of the factors in the building of this wonderful new parent room. 

I was truly honoured to be invited back to my old school to open this wonderful facility. 

A facility that will support and enhance the work of the parents and friends engaged in the school to provide the best possible education in partnership with teachers and support staff. 

I wish you all well and look forward to following the achievements of other students from Riana Primary School who are our future.


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