Back to General Collection or Oral Histories
Interviewee: Alison Hartley
Date: 2 July 2018
Subject: Education in St George/ Homeschooling
Interviewer: Birgit Heilmann
Transcript: Birgit Heilmann and Hurstville Museum and Gallery staff
For further details regarding this recording, you can find the recording in the Georges River Libraries Catalogue under Memories from Danebank Anglican School for Girls
Alison Hartley [AH]
Birgit Heilmann [BH]
Today is the 2nd of July 2018. This is an interview with Alison for the school memories project for Hurstville Museum & Gallery.
The interview is conducted by Birgit Heilmann and also present is Matilda Hughes. Let’s get started.
[00:53] Can you just please state your full name and which suburb you currently live in.
My name is Alison Hartley.
[ 01:04 ] What year were you born?
I was born in 1997.
[ 01:13 ] And where were you born?
I was born in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
[01:22] Ok, can you tell me a little more about growing up and where you lived while you were growing up?
Yes, I grew up first of all in Connells Point and I went to the local Pre-School Possums and then I went to St George Christian School for Infants School, K-2, and then after that I went to Danebank from Year 3 onwards and that is where I graduated. [Section about family members deleted]
[02:46] What do you currently do?
I am studying Visual Arts, a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the University of Sydney and I am in my third year of that.
[02:57] And you are still living in Oatley?
Primary School Years
[03:01] Alright, so you can you just tell me a little more about your memories of the early Primary years? Anything, a story, which stands out to you in your memories.
Um, Primary years, I remember starting Danebank and being very excited about the new uniform and being with girls rather than Co-ed and um—
[03:38] Can you explain why it was exciting to be with girls?
I think I prefer girls and I found boys annoying during Infants School and I thought I would probably have more friends at a girls school and people would be more like minded and I was excited to have my mum at the school as well as a teacher with me.
[04:05] That was later that was kind of—
Year 3 Yep Yep and I remember. Do you want infant’s memories? Infants School, I had one year when I was in kindy where my brother was at school with me and then after that I never had that experience of having a sibling at school. So that was fun. And I remember my teacher Mrs Hurley and the marble jar in kindergarten.
[04:45] What is the marble jar?
That was our reward jar as a class. So if we did well, we would add a marble and once it was filled up we could watch a movie or do something special as a class. And one time a couple of us decided we’d like to fill the marble jar a bit more and I was very scared to break into the classroom, well not break in but go in when we weren’t supposed to at lunchtime, but I sat by the door and while the others went in and we got in big, big trouble. And I got put on the green seat and yeah it was very—
[05:35] The green seat was the punishment seat?
Yes, the naughty seat, the green seat.
[05:37] And was it in a specific corner of the classroom?
That was near the Principal’s Office so —
[05:47] And how long would you have to sit there
Ah, for all of lunch or something. I can’t remember. For a little while until we got to talk to the Principal. Yep.
[06:05] So that’s kind of the green seat you had to wait and then you were summoned in and then?
Yes that’s right. Yep.
[06:09] So there maybe were too many others that must have filled out that seat?
Yes, yeah. (Laughter)
[06:15] That’s quite a nice reward for the class if it’s kind of joint reward.
[06:28] And can you remember at Infants School how would you do lunch?
Lunch, I can’t remember what time but we we’d have basketballs and skipping ropes out and we got to run around. We had a little cubby house which isn’t there anymore but that used to be there and there was a frangipani tree that everyone would sort of sit in if they got to, which was always someone in there, so, and that’s not there anymore and I think the bridge is there. There was a wooden bridge that we got to play on.
[07:13] And what kind of food would you have? Would you have a lunch bag from home?
Yes, yes, there was a canteen day only one day of the week and I would get chicken nuggets and a hash brown and um that was, I would have that every week which was fun and we also had cake day once a week and I think it was on the same day. And it would be 20 cents for a cake or something and that was also good so that would be at recess time. But apart from that my mum made me either a jam sandwich or a devon sandwich, nothing ‘salady’, or couldn’t have any peanut butter which was my favourite. No peanut butter or Nutella, so honey, jam or devon. Maybe chicken but I did not like it. (Laughter). I didn’t really enjoy my lunch box. I was fussy.
[08:21] And that didn’t change all the years, it was the same?
It got a little bit better – in Primary School, canteen lunches were always the best and the best year of lunches would have been in Year 12 when we had a microwave and a fridge. Yeah.
[09:03] Any subjects you liked the most – during your early Primary School?
Hmm, I remember liking History in Primary School – I found that quite interesting ’cause it would always be quite visual and – and Science was also quite good but they were the subjects that I didn’t enjoy as much when I got to High School. I didn’t enjoy History as much and I always liked Art and Music. I really liked Music in the Infants School, ‘cause we got to play the glockenspiel and xylophone and I always found that really fun because they were really big and different sizes and I just always loved percussion and I eventually started learning percussion when I was 12.
[10:15] Through school?
It wasn’t through school. I did flute when I was in Year 3, so I was about 8 or 9 years old when I started that and I still always wanted to play the drums as well but yeah I did that at the same time when I picked it up in when I was year 6. Yep.
[10:40] I have heard that the Danebank has got this bell ringing?
[10:46] So were you, have you been involved in —
No, I didn’t do the bell ringing. I did a bit of choir and I was in the singing ensemble and I was in the senior band from Year 7 to Year 12.
[11:04] And you would play at special events?
Yeah, sometimes Assembly. It would always be the Autumn Fair, is the big one, which is a School fair and we also played at Speech Night sometimes Carols, yeah and I also played in the Junior Band from Year 3 onwards for flute. Yeah.
[11:37] Just to finish off the Primary Years School, do you remember or can you tell us how you would get to and from School?
My parents would drop me, particularly for Infants School, but then when I was at Danebank I would go with my mum in the mornings for Primary School.
Danebank High School Years
[12:08] So let’s talk about Danebank a little bit more. I guess it is quite obvious why your parents chose you go there or can you explain what was the decision to choose Danebank to other schools.
Yeah, so Danebank is – I went there because it is an all-girls school and it is also nearby, so not far from home, about a ten minute drive and um, I also went there because it is good education, it is also a Christian School which was important because my family is Christian and we go to Church and I’d have good teachers and learning there. And because it was also a school that’s been familiar for a long time from my mum who taught there and also because her father went there when he was a young boy, in the very early days of Danebank.
[13:26] So he was in the early stages of the School?
Yes, yes, yeah he was one of the first pupils.
Wow does he have any memories?
Um, I don’t know ’cause I never got to really aah, know him very well because I was very little when he died. Yeah, but him and his family and my mum didn’t live in Hurstville they lived in Bondi, so my mum went to a school closer there. But I think he always wanted me to eventually go to Danebank.
[14:08] But he lived in the area where he was and went to school?
Yes, I think so. I think in Hurstville. I can’t quite remember.
[14:17] What was his name?
His name was John Middleton.
[14:22] I will have a look if I can find him.
[14:24] Might be early documentation
Yeah, there is a couple of photographs of him, one in particular, him on top of the playground with his arms up in the air. That was him.
[14:38] Do you have the photo or the school does?
Ah the school does. It is in some of the magazines, the School Magazines, or the Yearbook in particular and also the 75 year Anniversary Book. Yep – It’s good I got to be there for the 75 year anniversary and I think the 80 year anniversary for Danebank.
[15:11] And what was the 75 year anniversary?
That was the bigger celebration I think we’ve had in a while.
[15:21] And when was it?
When was it? Umm —
[15:29] Oh Danebank was founded in 1933.
33 – So 2008 I think it was. So I was in Year 5 – So we had cake, I think the Junior School had a concert at Marana Hall with Colin Buchanan. I think that’s what we did. Yeah.
[16:01] Sounds good.
Yeah – and some other stuff. I can’t remember what we did for 75 years but we all got a little Danebank D as well, a badge.
[16:14] What was the uniform when you went there?
In the Junior School we had the striped dress for summer which was the same from K to throughout the High School until you got to Year 11 and 12 and it was the two piece, sort of striped uniform. And the Junior School had this grey, long sleeved top with red buttons with a smock sort of dress over the top which was green tartan sort of dress and that’s not there anymore, that’s changed. So I had that and we also had red hats which we had to wear outside at all times.
[17:11] And what, one side? Sorry what did you say, oh Onside
Yes, red hat, yeah.
[17:22] They still have them in the red hats.
I can’t remember – yeah – ’cause the uniform changed once I left so I don’t hmm I don’t know if they’ve got red, could be green, I don’t know.
[17:38] Do you still have the uniform at home or parts of it?
I have got my blazer, the rest of it I probably gave away or back to the uniform shop so they could sell it. I don’t think it would be too hard to find one.
[18:02] No I don’t think so. (Laughter). So tell me did you go with some friends you knew from your neighbourhood. Did they also some come and go to Danebank so can you tell me a bit about your friends and what kind of friendships you made there?
So I knew Kimberley who was my friend from Pre-School and I knew she was coming into Danebank in Year 3 as well so that was really exciting, she was my friend. And I also knew a couple of girls from after school care which I used to go to in Year 2 before I came to Danebank because I would wait for my mum so I was a non-student at the after school care. So I knew a couple of girls from that. Yeah, it was mainly Kimberley that I knew. And then some of my early friends were Francesca and Ashleigh and I remember doing a couple of dance performances with Francesca with the music and so we went to each other’s houses and made up a dance together that we would perform which was really fun and then my later friends from Year 3 were Penelope, and Bronte and Bronte [full names deleted] and that friendship lasted through Primary School with those three. Yeah and after Primary School they all went to different schools and we haven’t kept in contact very much but they were my close Primary friends.
[20:09] And you would play together in the grounds?
Yep, I think there was definitely lots of playing and laughing and joking. I think that’s why I really liked them, because they were really fun and funny. We would always be quite silly and yeah I think we would also talk a lot. Probably girls sit down and talk more, even at a really young age more than guys do. We would always talk about things. Yeah.
[20:56] Going back to the school uniforms, I am really interested has it changed a little bit over the years. Your school bag, what was your school bag and what was in your school bag?
So my school bag was grey, had a few key rings on it. I always had the same ribbon which my mum still has which is blue, white and red, it’s like a French flag, but in a long strip sort of ribbon the three stripes and that’s on all of my bags, suitcases and everything so that was always my ribbon on the bag. And in my school bag in the front pocket I’d have little things, little nick-nacks. I can’t remember what it would have been in the early days, um but then high school that front section changed obviously, my phone, headphones and my keys stuff like that, important things. Middle section, would be for my lunch box and drink bottle and the bigger back pocket that held my school books and pencil case and my glasses and diary.
[22:27] And bring, cause I think some schools have got bookshelves and they leave everything in School. Maybe that’s more for younger kids.
Yeah, yeah, whatever we would have for homework so the Maths book was always one that we had and – yeah whatever homework or assignment sheets, I think yeah, and definitely the school diary would come home. Yeah.
[23:04] And you said that you have got a few school diaries still at home.
I found one. Yes. I wish I didn’t throw them out ’cause they are very interesting. But I found one.
[23:18] So would you maybe get one for— ?
Yeah I have got it here, although I was a bit naughty and covered, put my own cover on it which we weren’t supposed to but I was in Year 12 and so, I think it didn’t get seen or it didn’t matter as much. Some people didn’t even use the school diary in the later years and then bring their own one from home. But yeah, I sort of personalised mine. (sound of a zipper unzipping). And yeah this is my Year 12 one and I have got all my subjects and homework stuff.
[24:06] There’s some memories. (laughter)
Yeah I still remember a lot of this kind of homework that I had.
[24:17] I think it might be really nice.
[24:21] I haven’t decided what exactly I will put in the exhibition.
[24:26] I think that will be a nice object to have.
[24:31] Yeah that’s interesting that you are not supposed to, do but you can still bring your own.
I don’t think you were allowed to really. I don’t know the yeah – I don’t know what the rules were, but I think it didn’t matter as much when you were a bit older. But I think definitely did have to use the school diary ’cause the teachers, some teachers, would want to write stuff or get your parents to sign. There was one teacher in particular, that would always want every student to have their parents signature just to check their diary and sign it off to see what they had been doing or their homework. But that was just Mr Mitchell for his bond class, he would always check for that.
[25:33] In terms of rules, um, can you just tell me a bit more about were there any rules that were annoying or good or from your early years to later years, did anything change that it was good that it has changed.
The biggest rule that was annoying for people was jewellery and nail polish. So we weren’t allowed any nail polish. And earrings would have to be very small, one in each ear and no bracelets or rings. And of course, that rule got broken often by girls from junior school through to high school and if we had nail polish we would have to get it removed at the office before a teacher could see it and give us a detention or something like that. I didn’t ever have that problem because I got my ears pierced a bit later but in Year 10 I did get a second piercing in one ear without even asking my parents. It was after exams, I went up to Hurstville Westfield and got it done. It was quite fun, like, and it is not a cartilage piercing so you can’t have cartilage piercings but this was sort of an in between ’cause it’s yeah a little bit higher up and then I would just wear the one stud in there. And it didn’t really get noticed or mentioned. And then I wouldn’t have the two in one ear ’cause that’s against the rules. So I would just have the one, which I still have now but it’s a ring.
[27:37] And what would girls do to cover it? Would they just like have their hairs over?
Yes some girls would definitely do that and one girl had a nose piercing and she would just wear a band aid over it and it would just look really weird and uncomfortable.
[28:06] And I guess it’s also hard if you are not wearing a ring then it’s also bad for your hole.
Yeah if you had it done you would have to wear it in so, yeah. And the other rules would be arriving on time and in high school when you had free periods you still have to come in by a certain time in the morning for Bond or um assembly or chapel which was 10 past 10, so you had to be in by that time. And yeah, they really started to crack down on that in year 11 and 12.
[29:01] What’s Bond time? I haven’t been to school here so I don’t know what it is.
Yeah Bond was, I don’t know if they have got it any more, it was just a time for girls to have with a teacher in a little classroom. So you would have your Bond class, which was about 10 or 12 girls and you’d talk about different issues or topics sometimes it was about how to study better, or to do with wellbeing sort of things. It was a little bit vague, but it was just a chance to yeah be relational or talk about something that was decided upon by the School for that time, but it was, but it was always a bit different. We usually played games and stuff yeah. So we would have that time of the day each day, so that 10 past 10 till recess, Period 1 to Period 2, and then either Chapel on a Monday or Bond on Tuesday or Thursdays, Wednesdays during that time we’d have Assembly and then Friday would be showcase assembly which was performance based or Year Meetings or House Meetings. So, and I think if we didn’t have Bond sometimes we didn’t even have year meetings then or during House festival time, which is something Danebank does in High School. We would have our rehearsals and House meetings together for that.
[31:16] So was Danebank offering lots of extra curriculum projects and classes
[31:25] Were you involved in any of them.
Yes, so I did music. I played in the band. Wednesday afternoons we had our band practice then. And—
[31:36] And did you play percussion?
I played the flute and then I eventually moved to the drums in Year 9 or Year 10 and stayed there in percussion and I had private lessons at Danebank as well for flute and I did a bit of choir and vocal ensemble and I did a little bit of drama for Theatresports one year, and we also had the school production which I was in twice. The first time was for the musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and I was in Year 9 at the time, and I did the year after for Year 10 which was The Shakespeare Play and I was involved in that and I did a lot of sport. I played nearly every term all throughout High School. I did softball in Term 1, Hockey in Term 2 and 3 and either cricket or indoor hockey in term 4 or both. I did that one year, yeah.
[33:13] Any favourite sports?
Hockey definitely hockey.
[33:17] Excellent, I play hockey too
Cool. Yeah I did that all throughout high school and I was Hockey Captain in Year 11 I think yeah. I also did Tennis from Year 3 up until Year 10 and eventually I got into the Tildesley Tennis Competition which is a big competition for all the Girls Schools in Sydney and that was very intense and I was in that twice and then stopped doing tennis because it was too much.
[33:58] And it would be extra or would you get some maybe relief while you were in the tennis team?
No, it was, I didn’t enjoy it as much. It was early in the morning so, I think 7am or 7.30 I can’t remember, yeah, so really early morning and it was just too much for my schedule. ‘Cause then there would also be the other sport I would be playing and training for that sport either in the morning or afternoon once a week.
[34:38] Coming back to the normal subjects. I am quite interested in how for example teaching subjects changed and I was just wondering, I haven’t asked this the other ones but, do you remember how like you were told about the first people in Australia, like Aboriginal history? If you remember, something changing or how the subject were told?
I think we were definitely taught about it in Primary School. I can’t remember what year specifically and it would come up possibly in an excursion or museum visit to an art gallery and that would be brought up then about Aboriginal Indigenous Australians and in High School it was part of, we always did Australian history. I don’t think we went beyond that at all from Year 7 to Year 10, whether it would be about um, yeah the Indigenous Australians or the gold rush sort of time. We did the gold rush in Year 5 in Primary School, or maybe Year 6 and um, and then we’d do World War I, World War II later in high school and yeah I think I do remember specifically in Year 7 or Year 8, we did an essay about whether the white Australians invaded Australia or not, whether it was an invasion, and I remember that was interesting and I wrote about that and I got good marks for the first time. (Laughter).
[37:03] So that was in Year 7?
I think so, Year 7 or Year 8.
[37:16] And about the classroom situation, I guess it changed a lot too. The people I interviewed had been to school in the 1940s. Just for completeness, can you just explain, describe to us how your classroom was equipped and how many people were in one class usually.
So, we’d always have a whiteboard in class and I remember, I do remember having the classroom with a chalkboard back in Infants school, but then it became a whiteboard later on and we’d have tables and chairs and a computer in the corner of every classroom with a projector as well. This is during High School we would have that. I don’t think we had – in Primary School we would have had a projector in some classrooms and sometimes we’d have, I remember we would use sometimes the old fashioned projector with the plastic sleeves.
[38:44] The overhead projector.
[38:49] Old fashioned technique
Yeah, I think we used that a couple of times and it developed really quickly. I do remember in Year 5 we had the smartboards. That was the first, that was very exciting for us. So it wasn’t just a whiteboard anymore, it became a touchscreen with a pen, and the teacher
would draw on the board different things or bring out a virtual ruler or table and different colours and the paintbrush sort of tools. And yeah, and that would also be like a big screen to then put different slideshows or a movie up in Primary School so that was Year 5 and Year 6. And some high school classrooms also had the Smartboard, or just a whiteboard or it would be both. I think, but if it wasn’t both, then the teacher would get in big trouble if they got the whiteboard marker onto the smartboard. It would be like, NO, NO, NO. We would have to tell her to stop and yeah she would be very thankful for that.
So that was our rule, if that ever happened with the teacher, it was our responsibility to stop them from doing that. I don’t think all of the smartboards could have whiteboard markers and what else – we had a few computer rooms. There was a computer room in Primary School the ICT and in high school, computer rooms and sometimes we were also able to bring in laptops, the school laptops, in a big sort of trolley power station where they would all be charged and plugged in. We would be able to get one and bring it in and be able to do an assignment in class. They had the same sort of thing in the Library. And in Year 8 we were able to bring in IPADs and by Year 9 everyone had to have an IPAD and certain Apps that in the end we didn’t even use them all so we ended up spending money on stuff we didn’t need to and some of them looking back on them, the Apps now, they were quite dated.
[41:57] What kind of apps would you have to have?
There was, we had to have ABC IVIEW and maybe a couple of newspaper Apps that they wanted us to have and sort of document typing apps but there were like two different ones we had to have. One of them I can’t even remember the name, ’cause they didn’t have Microsoft Word as an App back then, and so there was this other Word App which wasn’t very good and I didn’t even use it. So, but it was mainly used for textbooks and we would have all our textbooks put on the IPAD which I think was a good idea in the end because text books were really heavy and to take it home, it took up a lot of room in the bag, but there was always the trouble with, of course, I think people do like and prefer to have something physical. It’s better for eyesight sometimes as well. Not having the bright screen and yeah, I remember finding it hard, particularly English, if we had a novel, I much preferred to have the little novel book to read rather than be flicking on the screen and so I remember being annoyed at that. Then eventually I got my own real book for English a couple of times, cause it yeah, it’s different from a textbook having the novel on the screen. I found that more annoying. I think that’s it for Classroom.
[44:07] And outside, School yard, anything particular stick out for you?
The school yard we had the quadrangle which is still there and that had seats and classrooms on the outside but in the centre there’s sort of courtyard area with a tree and different chairs around and so I used to sit there in Year 8 in particular. I can’t remember where I used to sit in Year 7 but Year 8 was in the quadrangle and then Year 9, 10 I would sit in Federation Square which was a bigger open space with grass to sit on and a little sun dial in the middle and another big tree. And the bus bay area, which is not there anymore, because there’s classrooms. And another grassy area, the round the back of the quadrangle where the Year 11 and 12s would sit. And there was also the canteen area which later became a locker room for students.
[45:43] So Including locker room or instead of?
Instead of the canteen. So the canteen moved into a new building which was part of the Junior School building when that was made. I can’t remember what year that happened, but that was a big change that happened.
[46:07] Was the canteen made up of mothers or staff?
A mixture of both, yeah, so they often have a couple of parents helping but there’s always the same canteen ladies who have their special different uniform they wear and yeah I think there’s about 2 or 3 of them.
[46:39] Did the school have a garden a vegetable garden or anything like that?
Not really, in later years the life skills class started planting vegetables in Federation Square and one of the garden beds on the side and that was cool but we didn’t do any gardening and – ah we definitely had flowers and trees that were maintained by the maintenance staff. And there’s also a tree there now with purple flowers that was planted there in memory of a girl called Alice who passed away during school and she was one of the life skills girls. She became very sick and passed away so we had a big assembly of that in recognition of her and planted the tree, which is now quite big and lots of purple flowers.
[47:45] So I interviewed Petty a few weeks ago and she talked a little bit about there was always the rule that you weren’t supposed to go into shopping centres when she was at school so was this the same while you were at school that you weren’t supposed to go into shopping centres with your school uniform?
Yes, yes that’s right.
[48:08] And did you break the rule? (Laughter).
Ah, I think I might have a couple of times. Um, but I would often be there with my Mum which was OK, if you had a parent with you. You were allowed to be there with your uniform on. But often, me and my friends would bring an extra bag of clothes to change into and that would normally be on the last day of school when we finished early for the day and go up to Hurstville Westfield. But whenever I was up there with my mum she would always pick out the girls and get them in trouble. But they would always lie and say their parents were there in the shop and the big rule as well was to not be outside with the green jumper on.
You would always have to be the blazer on the outside for the uniform but not the jumper. I think there was the Principal or the Deputy who really did not like the jumper and they thought it looked sloppy and so that was a very big rule. And when I was a prefect we had this duty, it was gate duty, to be outside and check that no-one was wearing their jumper when they left school. And I always forgot to do gate duty. I was just looking back at my diary at gate duty. Because it was something like every 3 Wednesdays, so it would come up and then when I’d see it, it would already be time up for when I was supposed to be out there. And it’s a little bit awkward telling girls off when you are a Prefect anyway, but I only did that a couple of times.
[50:10] And what, so they would need to change?
Yeah, take their jumper off or put their blazer on. Yep. And no hair out either, that was a big rule. Like during school of course, but going to and from school, catching the train, girls would often have their hair out or roll up their skirts. That’s another big rule I forgot to mention. Skirts or the dresses had to be on the knee or below the knee and yeah, girls got in trouble for that lots. Especially if it was the skirt and they would roll it. If you left school you could roll it up even more and have a short skirt. Laughter.
[50:58] And what was the punishment if you got caught?
A detention and probably see the Deputy Principal, yeah who was Ms Romberg, Mrs Chiba, at the time and then later Ms Romberg, Mrs Chiba. So they always dealt with student issues and detentions and infringements.
[51:32] Yes, so um on the topic of leaving school for holiday. Would you go straight home or would you do something sometimes perhaps something with your friends. Go somewhere else and explore Hurstville?
Um, we wouldn’t go off exploring. If I went out with my friends we would go to Westfield but that wasn’t very often because you had to go home and do homework or um, sport training, or Wednesdays I would have band after school. So there would always be something to do later in the evening or afternoon. But if I didn’t have that, I would go home with my mum so wait for her near her staffroom or do some work in the library. In the later years in high school I’d often be in the library after school till it shut at 4.30 or somethings and sometimes I’d go to Hurstville Library with a couple of friends. We’d study there and that was really busy during Year 11 and 12. Lots of students would do that but it was good. I liked studying there.
[52:59] And talk about your mum, was it good or bad to have mum as a teacher at the same school?
It was a bit of both, I think. I think I liked having her nearby if I needed um like canteen money or if something bad happened during the day and I wanted to talk to her and it was helpful having the transport to and from school, driving, because it would take quite long with public transport. And I think I liked being known by the teachers and some of the students a little bit more because of that but I think I was mostly known by other students because of myself, just my involvement in the school, not so much because of my mum. And she would agree with that as well I think.
And I think, it did become difficult in later years because I wouldn’t want her to know so much being so close all the time and yeah I actually had some issues with my mum and then I think some teachers sort of knew about that as well and I think it was good they were sensitive to that but and helpful, but it was also difficult because I would be having problems and she would be around all the time and um – yeah.
I went to the School Counsellor for that and for other issues but there was no communication between her and my Mum but I think the dynamics definitely were more difficult in later years. I just didn’t want to have too much of a relationship with her because it yeah.. she was very present. I can’t remember. There were lots of different reasons why there were problems.
[55:26] In general a teenager – (Laughter)
[55:37] When did you graduate from Danebank? And just tell us about your last day and the ceremony and did you have a muck up day still present at Danebank?
[55:54] Can you tell me a little bit about your last weeks?
So, my final weeks in Year 12, we had Muck up Week, which we would be able to dress up each day that week with a different theme. And there were strict rules on different vandalising of school property. Like in previous years, people had put rubbish sort of toilet paper, wrap things up in gladwrap, different things like that there were a bit risky. So a lot of that had already been done so the rules were quite strict. I can’t remember if we did very much of that. Oh, we did, we covered Mr Fogden’s room with pictures of himself, just everything was covered as a prank and he was the target I guess and I can’t remember what happened for others, it must have just have been him.
Well maybe it wasn’t his face, it was a politician’s face, that looked like him. I can’t remember. I think it might have been a picture. It was very funny. I wasn’t involved but I took some photos of it and we would also have a muck up assembly and that was always a big favourite of everyone’s whether you were in Year 7 or Year 8, because all the teachers got made fun of and aspects of the school and you would usually have assembly sort of game or video. I think ours was all video-based for muck up assembly. And for my year group, they all dressed up in prison clothes, so we organised for everyone to get the orange jumpsuit and we all wore it and so for muck up assembly everyone came in and it was all dark and we were saying get in here and being all rough and then we would show the film with people acting out other teachers and stuff like that. And yeah there was a different theme each year for year 12. And then the last day of school we would have Valedictory Dinner and a Valedictory Assembly during the day at school and the parents were invited to that and that is when we graduated officially before our HSC exams. Because once your exams are done that’s it.
We would sign off from each of our teachers after the exams. I don’t know what the point of that was. I think if we had any borrowed items or if there was any issues, we would tick off like with our teachers and then we would come back for speech night for any awards and that was it. So Valedictory was the formal ending. Well maybe it wasn’t his face, it was a politician’s face, that looked like him. I can’t remember. I think it might have been a picture. It was very funny. I wasn’t involved but I took some photos of it and we would also have a muck up assembly and that was always a big favourite of everyone’s whether you were in Year 7 or Year 8, because all the teachers got made fun of and aspects of the school and you would usually have assembly sort of game or video. I think ours was all video-based for muck up assembly. And for my year group, they all dressed up in prison clothes, so we organised for everyone to get the orange jumpsuit and we all wore it and so for muck up assembly
[59:44] Was it emotional?
Ah yeah, for some girls. I don’t think it was too emotional for me. I think that’s when they do a video of us throughout high school so pictures of Year 7 camp and other camps throughout High School or things we did as a Year Group and we received a Bible with like the Danebank sticker in it and that’s our gift for graduating.
Dankebank Old Girls
[1:00:34] And you’re still in contact with Danebank because you have joined the Old Girls?
[1:00:37] Straight after you left?
I think it was a year after, yeah, because I think I couldn’t really get in contact with them because I expressed interest but then it didn’t get followed up until the next Autumn Fair, where I made the connection a bit more and because they were looking for people and I said I would be happy to be a young face in the group.
[1:01:09] So what is the group about? What are you – can you just explain – what are you doing in this Old Girls?
So yeah, the old girls is about connecting, maintaining relationship with Danebank students who have left the school and ah they organise reunions. Well the first reunion, the five year one, they organise and then beyond that it is up to the year group to co-ordinate that. They keep a record of everyone’s details and we also organise a couple of events like August Festival which all the Old Girls are invited to that. An afternoon tea or dinner together, which I haven’t been to yet because I think I have been away, but that is coming up soon. And the Old Girls also organise the Finance they receive, so they might give a gift to the School for the Anniversaries or organise a scholarship or prizes. And yeah, I think that’s overall the aim of –
[1:02:45] What is the age range for new faces?
Yeah, so I am the youngest. So I am 20 and the class of 2015 and the oldest member is ah, I don’t know, she would have been …. she’s old. She’s got grandkids. I don’t know what class. I would have to find out. Maybe Petty would know, yeah, but the other members are hmmm, at least 20 years older than me I think, at least, so there is a big age gap. And I am still learning what they do as a group and what there aims are and how they function, cause there’s lots of behind the scenes work that I don’t know or understand. The administration and how the meeting is run. Very formally with someone taking notes, what’s that called again, yeah someone taking minutes.
[1:04:09] Maybe because it is an Association and they have to certain structure and routine.
Yes, so they do all that and that was very unfamiliar to me at the start. I have never been in that situation, being part of an Association.
[1:04:24] And there is a specific lingo.
Yes, yeah so I have just been learning and giving input when I can. Or saying ‘Oh we should make a Facebook event for that’ and they all go ‘Oooh that’s a great idea’, ‘Thank you so much for saying that’ and it’s like it not that…yeah…. so I sort of fill in the gaps where they get the modern way of doing things a little bit particularly with social media now that’s a big platform for connecting people and events and communication.
[1:05:10] That’s of interest for an Art Exhibition I am doing about communication and I guess it has changed so much with having smart phones and social media. So when you think back to your school days and connecting with your friends, can you remember differences and can you explain the differences?
Yes, well in Year 3 I would use the home phone and call my friends using the home phone to organise things like a catch up or have a chat and I knew one of my friend’s phone numbers off by heart, which was funny, and we also use our school emails sometimes to communicate and from about Year 4 some girls started getting a mobile phone, which wasn’t me, but that didn’t really matter as you would only use it to text and call. Maybe had a little game on your phone. Yeah and often girls would have it because they would be catching public transport or because their parents were generous –
Yes, well in Year 3 I would use the home phone and call my friends using the home phone to organise things like a catch up or have a chat and I knew one of my friend’s phone numbers off by heart, which was funny, and we also use our school emails sometimes to communicate and from about Year 4 some girls started getting a mobile phone, which wasn’t me, but that didn’t really matter as you would only use it to text and call. Maybe had a little game on your phone. Yeah and often girls would have it because they would be catching public transport or because their parents were generous – (laughing) – at a young age for them so.
I got my first mobile phone at the end of Year 6 going into High School which I think was quite common. And again, that’s just for texting and calling. I don’t think IPhones were out at that point. And, when the IPhone came out, people would use that. I can’t even remember how quickly, that took off, because things changed so quickly. And at the same time, the IPAD, and girls would message each other on IPADs. So that was all during mid-early High School and with that as well, there would be Instagram and Snapchat and that all emerged.
And Facebook as well, which girls started to get maybe early High School. I got it when I was maybe in Year 9, 15 – I think there is a set age limit for it. Which not everyone did and that is the same for Instagram, you have to be 13 or 14 at least. And, yeah with technology, then there were strict rules on ‘You can’t have your mobile phone on you at School, and that is the same with the Junior School now because a lot of the girls have a mobile phone there. First thing they do is just go to the Office and drop it off. And IPADS and laptops, since we had them for homework and class work, there was the temptation to go on to You-Tube or procrastinate or look at online shopping, which a lot of girls would do and it is difficult for the teacher to monitor that so. And that is still a struggle right now, but can’t really change too much.
Interview Wrap up
[1:09:12] Mmm, interesting. I think we covered a lot. Is there anything in particular you would like to add. You think we have missed. Any stories you would like to talk about?
Um, the camps for school, were really fun. Um
[1:09:33] Where would you go?
Um, we would often go to a youth works camp site. There is one in Springwood and then there are the campsites in Port Hacking. That was during Junior School years and Year 7 Camp was with Youth Works as well. Year 8 and Year 9 we did our camps with Boomerang Adventures. I can’t remember where those camps were held. But Year 9 Camp was a camping camp and lots of fun, but not for many girls. I found it quite fun, we did canoeing and cooking food altogether and building fires and the teachers would have to come as well, like one per group. But it’s changed over the years as well, what kind of camp because obviously these things are updated and changed and I think Year 8 and Year 9 camps have changed over time. And the Year 10 Camp is more of a Leadership Camp so no tents and that was always a favourite of everyone as we would bond more as a Year Group and do fun activities and get ready for the Leadership Positions of Year 11 and 12.
And Duke of Ed, is also a big highlight. Um, I think that was introduced maybe 2012, no it would have been earlier, um yeah, that wasn’t always there, but Duke of Ed was an optional camp and program to do which started in Year 9. So a lot of girls started to do Duke of Ed, Bronze in Year 9 and they still do that and over the years it becomes less girls doing silver and then gold. But that is a big thing at Danebank for girls to participate in, which I did, and quite surprised I made it through to Gold and completed that and the Gold Trip for Year 11’s was to go to either go to Central Australia or New Zealand and ydah that was really fun.
[1:12:20] For how long?
For a week or a week and a half. It would have to be two adventurous journeys with hiking, because some schools do canoeing as their adventurous journey. Two, 3 night hikes for Gold. It would be about two weeks for the expedition, we would do the practice hike and then have a break and then do the qualifying hike.
[1:12:57] And where were you journeying to – New Zealand?
Yes, New Zealand, so it was really fun.
[1:13:04] To the South Island?
South Island yep and we did the Kepler Track and Routeburn Track and a bit of touristy stuff as well, so Mrs Underwood, she still runs that and she has run that all the way through. She is sort of the Camp Co-ordinator now at Danebank. She’s a Maths Teacher, that’s her like primary role, but now it’s, she’s got this big role now as facilitating a lot of the camps and Duke of Ed in particular.
[1:13:41] You would have had to make your own fire?
Yes and um, do the orienteering and the map and route plans and survive.
[1:13:56] It sounds like fun.
[1:14:02] Do you have any questions [to Matilda]?
[1:14:09] Okay then, I think it is a really good addition to ask about the Christian School and about what this meant and I guess the daily life at School.
So, the School motto is Ut Prosim which is ‘That I May Serve’ which is the same at Wenona is that right? [to Matilda].
So, the School motto is Ut Prosim which is ‘That I May Serve’ which is the same at Wenona is that right? [to Matilda]. Yeah. [Matilda] And I think that was always connected to Jesus being a servant as well and the School Hymn was always sung at Assembly. I still know it very well now and that’s written in the front of the Diary as well. And we would sing the National Anthem or maybe we would alternate between them. That was every Wednesday Assembly or other formal occasions and Chapel every Monday was something we would always have in Junior and Senior school and the Chaplain would give a talk and we would sing songs and pray together. And yeah, I think a lot of the girls particularly in High School become less engaged with Christianity and what’s being spoken but yeah.
I definitely valued it because it’s beliefs I still hold to and I also helped out with the music in Chapel Band. Again that was challenging 22 because some girls disrespect with the way they sing and sort of make fun of it but I don’t know how that challenge is addressed and um ongoing. But we never did any hymns, it was always sort of contemporary Christian songs, maybe some modern version of hymns. So I would be on the drums for that for the Chapel Band and Christian Studies was a compulsory class that we had throughout High School and the Junior School as well. And, um, when I was in Year 10, it got introduced that we would do Studies of Religion as a HSC Subject which is a HSIE subject. And we would do the 1 Unit course as a compulsory Unit for Year 11 and 12, which I think was good because it gave more of an objective study of Christianity but also other religions. But of course, making something a compulsory unit might not be everyone’s preference, but it was only one unit and I think that’s a good part of the School to have that religious foundation throughout, the different ways we do things. And a lot of my teachers were Christians and —
[1:17:59] And so at the start when you started School at Danebank, did you have, did the Teachers explain the School Motto – what it means, did you have an introduction to the –
Not really, often at Assembly, that would be the time the Principal would give a talk about the School and School Ethos, particularly, Mrs Davis, that was one of the things she really brought to the School was a weekly speech by her and one series of talks in particular was shining like stars. There were always big encouragements for everyone with our learning, being kind to one another, and there were offers inspired by Christian beliefs and Scripture but sometimes to do with mental health and bullying and she would address other problems as well that might actually be happening in the School. And yeah, that was the only time on a Wednesday, it wasn’t every morning or, and teachers wouldn’t really have that responsibility to talk about that as much, unless they chose to, and mmm. I don’t know what else to say, yeah.
[1:20:04] I think we could talk and find out lots of things, but I think we are stopping here.