Centenary Celebrations – Collective Memoir

Contributions required prior to Monday, 16 October 2017

In 2018, Newcastle Grammar School is excited to be marking its Centenary. This will be an important time for the School and the wider community to reflect on the rich history of the past 100 years and to celebrate the School now and into the future.

One of the many exciting projects that are underway is the creation of a special publication. We would like this publication to act as a collective memoir of NGS’s past and present and we encourage contributions from the School community.

We are now reaching out to you all and asking for contributions of written work in the form of anecdotes, memories, letters, musings, poems, reflections, stories or any other form in which you feel compelled to express yourself.

We welcome parents, teachers, and students, past students, staff, and community members to contribute. This is a unique opportunity to express what the School has meant to you and your lives, record memories or moments you hold dear.

This could be a beautiful thing for our community to pull together and create so please take a few minutes to reflect and contribute and encourage others to do the same.

We have compiled a variety of examples to inspire you, your children and your friends. These can be viewed below and contributions can be made by emailing centenary@ngs.nsw.edu.au prior to Monday, 16 October 2017.

Thank you for your continued support in working with us to make this School, the vibrant and dynamic place it is.

Contribution Samples

Please note these samples are completely fictional. Any relation to actual people or events is coincidental.

I was at Newcastle Grammar school for a time in the 80’s while my Dad completed his doctorate at the UON. I have a great many fond memories of my time at the school but one of the moments that has kept coming back to me again and again is that of standing in the office watching the office lady count money.

I had the immense responsibility on Friday afternoons of running the lunch money over from the canteen to the office in a canvas bag that I remember felt so heavy in my hands. I do not remember the office ladie’s face, or her name, but I can remember her hands. The speed and deft with which they slid those coins off the table. Counting them up, two, three, four, even five at a time. They sped off the edge of the table in a blur and into her waiting hand that was held just below the table edge. I was transfixed. Mesmerized. I imagine I ran off when the money was counted. Job done. But I will always hold that vision in my memory with fond regard.

I have counted coins up in the same way ever since. Flinging them off the table with a satisfying drop into my waiting hand, and thinking of that lady.

When my small children are old enough to start learning to count up coins I hope I will teach them to do so in that same way.
Hooper – NGS Student 1986-1989

Every day I walk my dog up Church Street and past the Cathedral. Every now and then I come across a stream of students from Newcastle Grammar School as they cross from school over to the Cathedral. Without fail, every time we cross paths, the children will stop and let me and my dog past, someone will hold back the stream of class mates to let us through with a smile and a nod. Never once have they cut me off, or ignored my presence. People can say what they like about private schools, but when I am the recipient of such respectful behaviour, it makes me feel that perhaps there is hope for the future yet. Thank you.
Fraser – Resident of Church Street 2017

The best thing that has happened this year was when we went on an excursion to the wetlands to learn about life cycles and Mr Johns fell in to the duck pond! It was EPIC! He had slime all over him! We all got our nets and pulled him up. He was ok and he was laughing too, but he STANK all the way back on the bus!  BEST EXCURSION EVER!
Mead – NGS Student, Year 4, 2017

I love volunteering at school. I’ve helped out at canteen and with various other things since my girls started at NGS in Year 5. Seeing the children grow and develop into the young adults they are now going in to Year 12 brings a tear to my eye. I remember so many moments, and I know it’s their moment, not mine, but NGS has been a part of my life too. I know they are going to miss it when they graduate and move off into the wide world of life, but I will miss it too.
Blake – NGS Parent 2011-2018

Though I am in Year 9 now I remember fondly the way my friends and I used to spend our lunch times when we started school together in Year 7. There is a certain special secret spot in the school where we would sit and watch the reflections in the windows of teachers and other students as they walked past. Their image would distort in the old bent glass. Heads looking ginormous, blown up like a drawing on the surface of a balloon. Their bodies elongated and stretched as if one of those giant blow up stick men you see in car yards had put on a uniform and was walking through the school. It was so, so hilarious.

I’m not sure why we stopped the game, I guess we have moved on. Sometimes I walk past that spot and wonder if any other students have found out our secret.
Gibbs – NGS Student Year 9 2017


G – Great friends I hope to have for years.

R – Reading and writing and house cheers.

A – Awesome playground with trees up above.

M – Mrs Powel, a teacher who I really love.

M – My favourite things are Art and sport,

A– And I like to get a good report!

R – Robotics and chess, I like that too,

Newcastle Grammar School, for me and you.
K Mitchell – Year 2 Student 2017

It all started like a typical afternoon;

Mum: How was school Tom?

Tom: Good.

Mum: What did you do today?

Tom: Nothing much.


Later that night mum receives this Facebook message;

Hi Liz, I hope you don’t mind me contacting you out of the blue. I am a new parent at NGS, My son Hasan started in Year 8 today and he was immensely nervous about it. When he came home he told me that he tripped down the stairs at lunch (and right in front of a group of seniors too!). Your son left his handball game and held out his hand to Hasan. He helped him up, took him to sickbay and stayed with him for the rest of lunch, sitting on the side lines of the handball game pointing out to Hasan the names of all the other children playing. It turns out they are in the same English class and your son sat next to him, helping him out with some catch up work. Hasan was all smiles this evening and I just wanted to let you know that it is all because of your son’s kind heart.  Thank you!!  J Rabia Solak

Mum puts down her phone and looks at her son with a secretive smile,

Mum: Nothing much huh?
Anonymous – NGS Parent 2017

I attended NGS when it was a girl’s school in the 1950s and 60s. I heard about the centenary celebrations and was hit with a wave of nostalgia. Memories, both fond and not so fond came back to me all at once. Things have changed a lot since my time but I thought I would share a little of my time in the place with you. When I heard about the celebrations I decided to pull out my old uniform, my mother had packed it away for me into my school case, complete with mothballs and all. I haven’t got all my uniforms but I have my blazer and my skirt, my ‘physical education pinafore’ which we wore with the most ridiculous rope belt with a tassel on the end which had to be tied, just so, on your right hip! I remember doing exercises like tin soldiers in what is now Horbury Hunt Hall all lined up in neat rows, I can still smell the polish of the wooden floors that we had to prance around on. We even had to kneel down at the beginning of each day to check the length of our skirts. Heaven forbid if your skirt didn’t touch the ground! A life time ago. Happy Centenary to the NGS community.
Whitaker – NGS Student 1955 – 1967

I was up at the John Hunter hospital recently, visiting my sick husband. As I walked down the hallway I passed a group of doctors huddled outside the many double doors, deep in discussion. I mused to myself about the responsibility they hold in their hands, the importance of their job, their effect on the lives of others and their families. There was a vague familiarity about the way one of the young doctors was carrying herself, as I passed she looked around at me. And her face exploded with recognition.

“Mrs Smith!!” she cried out in a hushed whisper, as one does in hospital halls.

“Oh you probably don’t remember me, you were my music teacher at school, so good to see you”.

Absolutely I remembered this pupil. I remembered her coming to class one day struggling to decide what subjects to pick for Year 11 and 12. She desperately wanted to study medicine at University but had such a love for music and art that she couldn’t bear the rest of her schooling to be void of these passions. I encouraged her to keep up her music out of school hours even if she chose not to study the subject for the HSC but I don’t think I ever found out what happened to her after year 12.

“Hannah, Of course I remember you! I see you have become a Dr, just like you hoped.” I looked at her name badge “A Cardiologist! I had always wondered what happened to you after graduation.”

“I owe it all to you Mrs Smith.” She explained.

Hannah didn’t get the marks required for medicine and was devastated but had kept music in her life. She travelled and played in her spare time and eventually got through to a medical degree as a mature age student at 23. She still plays Cello in a quartet when she is not saving lives at work. She says she owes her resilience to her maintenance of her passions. Without music, she said, she would not have survived her adversities.

As we parted she said to me,

“I don’t know how you do it Mrs Smith, teaching. You hold such a responsibility in your hands, you affect the lives of people for the rest of their lives, such an important job.”

Teaching may not be heart surgery, but its close. It will always be an honour and a privilege to see these children grow up and take their place in society.
Smith – NGS Teacher 1973 – Present

“NGS is the best. ‘Best’ and ‘S’ rhyme!”
Gibbs – NGS Pre-school Student 2017

In Class last term we were learning about school life in the 1800’s because the novel we are studying is Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park. The novel follows the adventures of a teenager who goes back in time to 1873 in Sydney. I was interested to see how things have changed overtime and it made me think of my grandparents and parents and what school was like for them.

My Grandad told me he used to write at school desks with an ink well and quill, and I know my dad had chalk boards and exercise books in his class room. Today we have smart boards, iPads, Computers and Smart phones, we can email teachers and shop online.

Thinking about our schools centenary has made me not only think about life 100 years ago, but also wonder what it might be like 100 years into the future. What will school look like then? Will school even exist? Will people?

Sometimes when we study history it makes me sad because of all the awful things that have happened to people and that people have done to each other. But maybe it should help us look to the future, what do we want our school to be like in 100 years? What do we want people to be like?

I think we can make the future whatever we want it to be. I can’t wait to be a part of it.
Park – NGS Student Year 7 2017

I was a grounds keeper at NGS in my younger years and I will never forget the day the possum fell through the roof of the staff room! It was absolute chaos. It must have crept into the roof overnight during a storm and been woken up by the staff singing ‘happy birthday’ to one of the teachers at lunchtime. There was a scurrying noise and then an almighty crash and there was a possum on the table, it missed the cake but sat there staring for a couple of second before the chaos broke loose, it tore around the room like a bull in a china shop. There were teachers screaming, laughing, we managed to capture it eventually and set it free (after plugging up the hole) but what a day. It still is one of the funniest moments of my life, and I don’t think I will forget it in a hurry.

A J Brown – Grounds Keeper NGS 1989-1999