Denison College - Kelso High Campus

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Emailkelso-h.school@det.nsw.edu.au

40 Years of Kelso High

During 2018 Kelso High School proudly celebrated 40 years of educational excellence at the Boyd St site. 

To celebrate the occasion we recorded one ad per week over 40 weeks, to be played every day on both 2BS and BRock radio stations. These ads looked at the history, happenings and celebrations of Kelso High, from day 1 in 1976 to present day, at the Boyd St site, and were recorded by teacher Hans Stroeve. Below are the scripts for the ads.

1. Kelso High has a proud record of educational achievement and innovation and we would like to share this with our community.

Every week over the next 10 months I’ll be bringing you a piece of Kelso history to celebrate this significant milestone. We’ll look at the school’s cultural life, academic achievements, sporting highs and community involvement going all the way back to 1978 when the school opened at its present location.

2. The school began its life in 1976 as a temporary, demountable campus at Gorman’s Hill with 239 year 7 & 8 students and 16 teachers. The school remained at Gorman’s Hill for 2 years. We would like to invite you, the community, to post your recollections of this time on the Kelso High Campus Facebook page.

3.  The school that opened in 1978 at Boyd St was the Department of Education’s state–of–the–art school. It was orientated for maximum sun light and built with flexible learning rooms that could be closed or opened up. There was also a fully functional theatrette, an FM studio and a photography darkroom - all laid out in a spiral plan. This unique environment established an innovative culture that shaped education delivery for decades.

4. One of the features of the original Boyd St campus was its accessibility, and the effective inclusion of students with disabilities became part of the school’s philosophy and practice from the outset. In 1989 Kelso was named a Centre of Excellence for Student Welfare, and the school’s leadership in Inclusive Education has been widely recognised.

5. The original Boyd St school had a 200 seat theatre, complete with a dedicated lighting and projection room, a curtained stage and spacious back stage area. After the first school musical, Salad Days in 1979, musicals and drama productions quickly became a significant element in the school’s cultural life.

6. The school’s original theatre made another addition to the Bathurst Community’s cultural life. Well before there were commercial cinemas in Bathurst, Bob Poole started a film club in 1978 at the Kelso High theatre. The first student film shown was the Poseiden Adventure, and many locals may remember enjoying the Friday night films while eating takeaway pizza.

7. Many Bathurstians will remember when Kelso High pioneered the Art Festival, an extensive display of local and regional artworks in the unique multilevel architecture of the school. Begun in 1981 by the late Jan Gerard, the festival ran into the 90’s raising much needed funds. Who could forget the classy wine waiters in dinner suits & Dunlop volleys dispensing cask wine and nibbles!

8. A lesser known aspect of Kelso High’s history is its charitable emphasis. An initiative started by Bob Poole, back in 1980, and continuing today is the school’s support of the World Vision Child Sponsorship program. This has seen the school community raising an estimated $100 000 over 38 years to support more than 50 children, their families and communities.

9. Listeners involved with the early school will remember many campaigns to raise funds for school resources. Now that everyone has a mobile phone, it’s funny to think how hard the SRC of 1988 fought to get a payphone on campus. I’m one of many who remember being exhausted after the 25 hour basketball marathon that financed an electric scoreboard. Over the years, Kelso students and their families have continued to support such endeavours to improve the school.

10.I wonder how many will remember the climbing wall in the old school gym, and how challenging it was to climb? The school received a grant for the wall from the Bathurst Council in 1997. The mural, a diorama of cliffs, valleys and trees, was designed by the well know mural painter Ann Fisher, and painted by students. Apart from adding a new sport for the students, a community climbing club also benefitted from the facility.

11. In 1992, Kelso students, having taken out the NSW title, competed at the National Finals of the Tournament of Minds. Chris Hatherley, Dominic Johnson, Ben Wills, Alison Gerard, Joanne Mitchell, Ashley Stafford and Leonie Wood were runners up at the nationals. This achievement established a strong tradition in emphasizing creative and critical thinking that continues today.

12. One of the school’s particular focus areas has been the environment. Back in 1995, the school was recognized as having the leading Streamwatch program in NSW. That was later followed up with a State Rivercare Award, a win in the State Envirothon, and recognition as Waterwatch Western School of the Year and Central West Champion of Catchment.

13. From 1990 till the fire in 2005, Kelso hosted the Western Region Shakespeare Festival in its 200 seat theatrette. Many Kelso students went on from this to succeeded at the State Drama Festival, establishing a strong tradition of dramatic arts that continued into the new campus, with its purpose built human movement studio.

14. Throughout its history Kelso has played host to students on exchange from diverse parts of the world, while local students have also travelled. The school has benefitted from the cultural enrichment from exchanges with NZ, a wide range of European countries, including all of Scandinavia, and countries such as Canada, Japan and Taiwan, Argentina and Brazil. This has given the school community a gateway to the world.

15. Do you remember what you were doing on the evening of Friday August 19th, 2005?

Disaster struck the school that night. Many people, including me, stood on the front oval in tears as they watched their much-loved school go up in flames. The source of the fire was an electrical fault in a forgotten power point behind an old cupboard. But the timing, after school hours, meant the school was well ablaze by the time the alarm was raised. I’ll have more on the fire next week.

16. After the school fire in 2005 there was a huge organizational challenge and emotional upheaval for the school community. For 9 weeks students and staff were accommodated at other locations – Year 7 at West Bathurst Public, Year 9 at Kelso Public, Year 12 at TAFE and Years 8, 10 and 11 all went to CSU. Lessons went ahead, students & staff were provided with counselling while a temporary school campus was built.

17. In the aftermath of the 2005 fire, a series of community meetings was held by the Department of Education, to discuss the school’s future. The overwhelming sentiment at those meetings was that the school should continue at the Kelso site. One significant change was to be Kelso’s incorporation into the Denison College of Secondary Education with Bathurst High. This has enabled a much broader range of study options to senior students at both campuses.

18. From 2005 to 2007 the school operated from the old front oval in temporary demountable classrooms while the construction of the new school continued. It was draughty and cold in the winter, very muddy after rain, and hot in summer, but the resilient Kelso spirit lived on strongly. Everyone banded together to make the best of these difficult circumstances while waiting for the new campus buildings.

19. Amid all of the feeling of loss and nostalgia that the Kelso High fire brought with it, was a sense of determination that all of the things that had made Kelso High such a great school would be carried forward into the new school. The continuity of landmark programs like Cirkus Surreal, and Streamwatch helped many students with the transition, and the school’s strong commitment to student welfare also carried over to the new campus.

20. One positive that came out of the devastation of the Kelso High fire was the opportunity to start from scratch in building landmark technology into the new campus. The new school had a purpose-designed high-speed  network hub, and multiple fibre-optic links to every classroom. There were 5 completely wired computer labs, cabling links into every room and, of course, all new computers, making the school a technology lighthouse.

21. One exceptional element of Kelso High is it’s award-winning Cirkus Surreal. Brought to life by Stephanie Brown in 2003, the circus has developed the confidence, resilience, fitness, teamwork and engagement of 100s of Kelso students. The circus has performed around Australia, and on a number of tours to Canada and the USA, and some students have even gone on to make a career in performance.

22. The NSW Director-General’s Awards for School Achievement, which are only given for the most innovative and effective programs across the state. Kelso has received 4 such awards for its Kool Skool, Extension, WeCONNECTonline and Circus Surreal programs, all conceived in response to student needs.

The school has also been recognized as a  Centre of Excellence for Student Welfare.

23. In addition to awards I mentioned last week that the school has been given, individual student effort has been recognized over the years, with Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Student Achievement.

Recipients include: Jonathan Heasman, Ben Pitcher, Rebecca Stait, John Rudge, Amy Constant, Jarrod Grabham & Emily Sawaya.

24. One of Kelso’s strengths has been the commitment of its teaching staff, many of whom have chosen to stay at the school for substantial amounts of time.  Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence have recognized the contributions of Stephanie Brown, Maree Brandau, Jim Browning and yours truly. Helen Burgess also received the same award for Administrative Excellence.

25. Kelso has had its share of outstanding sporting achievement.

Since 1978, there have been 170 NSW Representatives, and 21 Australian representatives in sports as varied as hockey, soccer, swimming, athletics, Cross-country, cycling, diving, basketball, tennis, squash, athletics, softball, cricket, triathlon, rowing volleyball & Rugby League.

School teams have been in state finals in soccer, cricket & basketball, and won state titles in volleyball (twice) and hockey.

26. Many members of the Kelso High family have been recognized over the years for citizenship or their contribution to the wider community. Ten of the twenty-four recipients of the Jack Aubin Young Citizen of the Year Award, recognized with a plaque along the Neville Barlow walkway, have been Kelso students. Three recipients of the Order of Australia Medal include Emma Leslie, Janelle Lindsay and Graeme Hanger. Congratulations to all.

27. I’d like to recognise some people from the Kelso High community who have distinguished themselves in various ways. Anthony Stockman was the NSW Apprentice of the Year. Ben Pitcher was selected to represent Australia at the London Youth International Science Forum. Ashley Stafford was the NSW Young Innovator of the Year. Louisa Klopsteins was awarded a $100 000 scholarship to study Japanese at Ritasmekai University, and the Year 12 Drama class of 1993 were TropFest Finalists.

28. Some Kelso students have gone on to cook up a storm! Jason Saxby was the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year in 2011 and is now head chef at Pilu in Sydney. Liam O’Brien, after cheffing it up around the world, has returned to Orange to open Charred Kitchen & Bar, just  named in the 2019 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide, and London-based natural foods Chef, Sarah Sugden is still running her restaurant The Bondi Kitchen.

29. Kelso is an inclusive school that actively values Indigenous culture. Indigenous programs include Norta Norta aimed at improving educational outcomes, Girri Girri encouraging sporting involvement and Sistaspeak, a girls wellbeing program. The school has a highly energetic Student Aboriginal Representative Council. Taylor Vincent-Curry, after being selected in Art Express for his Yr 12 major work, returned to mentor students in creating a striking mural in the school gym, and students have also created an Aboriginal cultural garden.

30. The Kelso High Decade Award was created in 1997 as a means to recognise students 10 or more years after they had left school. The Award publicly recognizes an ex-student who has gone on to achieve outstanding success or have excelled in their chosen field.

In coming weeks, I will highlight some of the 22 past recipients.

31. The 1999 Decade Award recipient, Emma Leslie OAM, was recognized for her humanitarian work as Director of the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies in Cambodia. Emma was nominated for a Nobel Prize for her work.

The 2012 recipient, Mark Evers, was recognized for, amongst other things, his corporate/Olympic management role as the Director of Transport for the London Olympics.

32. The 2014 Decade Award recipient, Tom Wilson, was recognized for his role as the Australian representative to the Palestinian Authority.

The 2001 recipient, and now CSU lecturer Kate Smith, was recognized for her success as an actress & comedian in the Entertainment industry.

33. The 2003 Decade Award recipient, Ross Anderson, an internationally award winning architect & now lecturer at Sydney University, was part of the successful proposal to rebuild on the Twin Tower site after 9/11.

The 2016 recipient, Gabi Brady, a Documentary Producer/Director recently won the $20000 prize for Best Documentary Feature for Island of the Hungry Ghosts, at the Robert de Niro founded Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

34. The 2011 Decade Award recipient, lawyer Kate Van Doore, was successful because of her humanitarian work in setting up the ForgetMeNot Children’s Houses in Uganda, Nepal & India.

In 1998, Derek Walker was recognised for his work in developing new prosthetic technology. It was also Derek who invented the FLY enclosed disc wheel that all serious cyclists and triathletes use.

35. The Decade Award has enabled Kelso High to recognize the successes of past students:

Here are a few more ex-students to watch out for: Owen Franks works with the Al Jazeera media organization; Alison Gerard is Associate Professor at the CSU Centre for Law & Justice; George Rose played 154 NRL games; Georgia Lewis is working as a freelance journalist throughout Europe, USA & Asia.

36. Last week I mentioned a few of our ex-students. Here are a few more:

Gemima Cody is the Chief Food Critic for the Age newspaper; Sarah Stait is the Stage Manager for the Bell Shakespeare Company; Dr Reuban Bolt was the 1st indigenous student to be awarded a PhD by the Sydney Uni Faculty of Health Science.

37. Being one of the largest high schools in Bathurst means Kelso can offer a wide range of subjects in its curriculum.

Years 7 & 8 experience all mandatory subjects over 13 areas. Years 9 & 10 choose from 21 electives, besides their mandatory subjects; and Years 11 & 12 have a whopping 65 subjects to choose from!

38. The extra-curricular offerings at Kelso High are 2nd to none. Students can take part in a huge range of activities including Circus, triathlon, Jazz & Concert bands, Dance Ensemble, public speaking, Ag Show team, Eisteddfod and International Tours just to name a few.

They can complete Barista, First Aide, Driving and White card courses, not to forget participating in every sport you can name!

39. Kelso High has a 40 year history of educational excellence on the Boyd St site. Over the past 40 weeks I have highlighted Kelso’s award winning programs, delivered by award winning staff, tom our award winning students,

But what people notice most about Kelso High, however, is that it’s an outstanding educational community that welcomes all.

40. I’d like to thank you for listening over the last 40 weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the history, happenings and celebrations of Kelso High, from day 1 to present day, at the Boyd St site.

Hope to see you in 2026 for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Kelso High as a school in Bathurst.

This has been Hans Stroeve – thanks & goodbye.

Kelso High Campus. Celebrating 40 years of educational excellence.