School was plain sailing

Barbara Morgan, of Yanchep, Bruce Graham, of Aveley, and Jo Holding, of Two Rocks, reflect on their community schooling days.
Picture: Martin Kennealey   d449751
Barbara Morgan, of Yanchep, Bruce Graham, of Aveley, and Jo Holding, of Two Rocks, reflect on their community schooling days. Picture: Martin Kennealey d449751

FOUR decades after a community school started in a boat shed in Two Rocks, its former students will reunite with their headmistress next month.

Yanchep resident Barbara Morgan established the Yanchep Community School in 1976, using the sail loft at Two Rocks Marina.

Next month there will be a reunion for students who attended the school during its seven years operating in Two Rocks and Wangara.

Former student Bruce Graham, of Aveley, was among the first cohort of high school children starting in February 1976.

Mr Graham said before then, Yanchep children were travelling on a school bus to Wanneroo then changing to a second bus to get to the nearest high school in Girrawheen – a three-hour round trip.

“Kids were trying to do their homework on the bus,” he said.

“It was a godsend; I was at Girrawheen High School and I was not doing well at all.

“There were a lot of us who were troubled in one way or another.”

Browsing through photos with Mrs Morgan and Jo Holding, who has helped organise the reunion, Mr Graham reminisced about playing golf as a sport, learning pottery and trying other unusual subjects.

“We were very ’70s, that’s for sure,” he said.

“Lots of hair and lots of flares.”

The students learnt to sail with Sun City Yacht Club, stellar navigation with crayfishers and held a sports carnival in Yanchep National Park.

“We were running 100m and getting out-sprinted by kangaroos,” Mr Graham said.

“It was different but I really think we benefited from it.”

Mr Graham left the school in August 1978 to start his apprenticeship and went on to work as a chef for 26 years.

Mrs Morgan said hundreds of children attended the school between 1976 and 1981.

“It began with 46 local children – during 1976, 55 children passed through the school,” Mrs Morgan said.

“In August 1977 there were 22 children at primary level and 41 at secondary.

“About 1980, maybe even earlier than that, there were 80. The teachers were all university graduates.

“Woodwork and things like that were done by local volunteer people who were interested in the school and wanted to help.”

Mrs Morgan said the school relocated to Wangara in 1981 because it lost access to the sail loft, which they had been using rent-free.

Yanchep District High School also offered senior classes by then, and many of her students were travelling up from Wanneroo.

“We moved into a factory unit in Wangara which was ideal because it was an open plan space that we could do what we wanted with it,” she said.

“We closed early in 1983. I had a breakdown which meant I had to come out immediately.

“In hindsight we wondered ‘what should we have done, should we have folded it in 1981?’ but we did a lot of work in Wanneroo with highly disturbed children.

“There were strange situations that we generally managed to iron out.”

Mr Graham said he had managed to track down many former students, and many were looking forward to the reunion, some travelling from as far as Queensland and northern WA.

“A lot of those people that I’m finding on Facebook and around the place, I’ve not clapped eyes on since school years,” he said.

“It’s been so long there’s a real interest in it – it’s been 40 years.”

About to have her 87th birthday, Mrs Morgan said it was the first reunion and probably the only one she would attend.

“As far as I’m concerned, I think this will be the only one,” she said.

Anyone with links to the Yanchep Community School can book a $20 tickets to the reunion lunch at Two Rocks Tavern on March 13 by calling Jo on 0414 702 726.