Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Merinda State School Marks 125 Years

By Paul Gellatly

The fun was on for young and old as Merinda State School, several kilometres north of Bowen, celebrated 125 years of service to its tight-knit community.

The centrepiece of celebrations on Saturday July 22 was the cutting of a 'birthday cake', with school principal Rebecca Bowyer overseeing both the school's oldest surviving former student, 97-year-old Irene Mellon (now Irene Millier) and the school's youngest student, five-year old Maddis Allan, as they made the first cut in the large cake.

Mrs Millier attended the school from 1936, walking in from Euri Creek, several kilometres north of the Hamlet, every day.

Meanwhile Maddis, has found a welcoming environment at the school, which has a total enrolment of about 50 prep and primary students.

Despite the small student body, Merinda State School is well-resourced, with each class having a highly skilled teacher aide.

The maths, language, science, and arts resources are extensive, and a library was built via the Building Education Revolution program.

The school's large grounds include a junior playground, a soccer oval, a cricket oval, a volleyball court, and tennis courts.

At the 125 year celebrations, hundreds of people including past and present students crowded the school, aided by a morning of perfect weather.

Other attractions included a classic cars display, a market and a selection of showground rides.

One of the school's classrooms was given over to providing a historical display that featured student art and craft works, including some examples of the waning art of embroidery.

The day’s celebrations began with a Welcome to Country and a performance by the Juru dancers, with speeches and the cutting of the cake.

Some welcome attendees included a small contingent of US troops from Joint Task Force 7, who seemed to enjoy the special Australian experience and entertained the crowd with some US-style physical exercise moves, including co-opting principal Bowyer who the troops put through her paces, to a chorus of cheers.

Merinda State School principal Rebecca Bowyer oversees the cutting of the school's 125th anniversary cake by its oldest student, 97-year-old Irene Mellon, and its youngest, Maddis Allan, 5, Photo credit: Paul Gellatly

Staff from Merinda State School spend time with the US troops from Joint Task Force 7. Photo supplied

A special stall celebrated the region’s abundance of fresh food and veg. Photo supplied

A line of classic cars proved popular with the US Forces at the anniversary celebrations. Photo credit: Paul Gellatly

Face painting and other fun activities kept the children entertained. Photo credit: Paul Gellatly

In other news