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Hornsby North PS 50th Anniversary

16 November 2016

Mr MATT KEAN ( Hornsby ) ( 22:05 ): In the 1950s the face of Sydney was rapidly changing, and Hornsby was no different. The population was expanding and housing was in short supply. The Hornsby north area was part of the Government's release of selected parcels of land to accommodate suburban expansion. Located close to the railway line, the Hornsby-Asquith areas were hotly targeted by developers for urban subdivision. The expansion of the area meant a dramatic increase in the number of young families and children needing access to local schools. At the time Hornsby Public School, which is now the home of Hornsby TAFE, was bursting at the seams. After a devastating bushfire in 1957 caused major damage to the school, the Department of Education was forced to look at alternative options. Thus began an extensive search for a suitable site for the new school.

The first site to be considered was located at the intersection of Ida and Ethel streets. The department had plans to locate either a girls or boys campus on one side of Ethel Street and an infants campus on the other. Another plan was to locate all the classrooms on one side of Ethel Street and the playing fields on the other. This proposal was rejected by Hornsby Shire Council, which, although supportive of a new school in the area, did not want the school to be intersected by a public road. A second site was considered, located on the corner of Amor Street and Old Berowra Road. However, the Department of Education determined that the land was unsuitable because of the steep slope. It was therefore unsatisfactory. Finally, in 1961, a site at the end of Ida Street was purchased for a grand total of£18,000. On 12 June 1964 the Minister for Education, Mr E. Wetherell, announced in the New South Wales Government Gazette that approval had been given for the establishment of a public school at Hornsby North. The announcement read:

The establishment of a Public School pursuant to section 34 of the Public Instruction Act of 1880.

Construction commenced in 1966. The school comprised four classrooms, an administration building, a toilet block, a flagpole and an incinerator. It was not until the following year, on 31 January 1967, that the school opened its doors and welcomed 90 pupils, including Melissa Herden, nee Burne. Mel was one of the original 22 students, the first group at the school to go from kindergarten to year 6. She was instrumental in compiling information on the history of the school, and she was an amazing help in preparing my speech. The original students were under the watchful eye of principal Mr F. Gibbs and three teachers, Miss West, Miss Norton and Miss Lewis. Although the school gates opened in 1967, it was not until 1971 that the school was officially opened. The opening ceremony was a big community event, drawing hundreds of attendees, including the member for Hornsby and Minister of Justice the Hon. John Maddison.

The event gained national media because the Minister used his opening address to lend support to the proposed South African sporting tours in the midst of the apartheid era, before unveiling a commemorative plaque and planting two trees at the front gates of the school. The trees are still there today, albeit they are much larger. By that stage the school enrolment had grown to 285 students and a teaching staff of eight. From the beginning, the school fostered a wonderful sense of community. That is still very much alive today. An active P& C was formed and the ladies auxiliary began fundraising and building that sense of community. The P&C's main fundraiser, the annual fireworks extravaganza, was one of the biggest events in the district. It was the highlight of the June long weekend. The event would start with a fete in the afternoon before the fireworks display in the evening. Admission for adults was $1 and for children 50¢.

Today the school has more than 800 pupils. While much has changed at the school over the past 50 years, one thing that has not changed is its commitment to quality education for every student. For more than half a century, passionate and highly dedicated professionals have supported, nurtured, and inspired the learning and education of our local students. The strong academic program at Hornsby North has seen students excel in the classroom, while the diverse co-curricular offering and pastoral care has enabled countless numbers of local children to explore their full potential. In my opinion, Hornsby North Public School sets the benchmark when it comes to delivering an outstanding all-round education. I am constantly impressed by the academic results as reflected in NAPLAN. However, I am always blown away by the talent on display in the band, the choir, the arts, or the various sporting activities provided by the school. It is remarkable. No doubt that is why so many students have gone on to achieve success in their chosen fields. Notable ex-students include Olympic water polo player Geoff Clark; Olympic gymnast Lisa Barnes; and most recently Anthony Moyes, who was the official referee in the sevens tournament at the Rio Olympics.

Hornsby North Public School is the type of school that empowers every student to reach their full potential and to achieve their dreams. This is a great credit to the teachers, many of whom I know personally and admire greatly. I particularly acknowledge Jeanette Butterwoth; Calise Butterworth, also a former student; Julie Hall; Sharon Gates; Anne Moyes; Sandra Reeves, and the rest of the fabulous staff. Of course, any great team needs a great leader, and Hornsby North Public School has the best. Maree Sumpton is an exceptional woman. She is adored throughout the school and across my community. She is one of those rare principals who knows every child individually and who cares for them as if they were her own. In my opinion, she represents the very best of our education system and the very best of our community.

Another thing that sets Hornsby North Public School apart is the wonderful sense of community that exists. It is the type of school where everyone knows each other and genuinely cares about their neighbour. When someone is doing it tough, people roll up their sleeves to help. I particularly thank the P&C for its work in supporting the school and fostering that sense of community. I thank the president, Katherine Milner, for her leadership and the work she does for our community. I thank Catherine Pedersen—the band coordinator—Christine Ashton, Sharon Schweifurth, Liz Charmon, Melanie Claydon, Gavin Hunter, Alexi Boyd, Chriss Roberts, Belinda Greer, and the brilliant Lynne Slevin, for all they have done over so many years. Hornsby North Public School is a special place because of the education provided and the people who have to helped deliver it. I congratulate the school on its 50 years of service. It truly made a difference to our community— [Time expired.]

To read the full hansard transcript, click here.