Cootamundra High School’s class of 1956 had one of Australia’s most famous educators, Roderick West, as a teacher – and according to the organiser of what is to be their final reunion, they “taught him how to teach”.
The late Mr West started his teaching career at Cootamundra in 1954 and participated in the Olympic torch relay, which gave the Olympic Highway its name.
He went on to teach at Fort Street, became Headmaster at Trinity Grammar, and in retirement was appointed by the Howard government to head a review of Australia’s universities, culminating in an influential report in 1998.
Monica Jacomb, organiser of what she believes will be the last reunion of the class of ‘56 – remembers him as a “brilliant” teacher but says their class of 20 boys and girls played a role in teaching him how to teach.
“We were well behaved in class and did everything he asked,” Mrs Jacomb said.
The class of ‘56 has had nine reunions since the first in 1981, but the next one, to be held in the Cootamundra County Club in May, will probably be its “last hurrah”.
“This is a natural development from the fact that some of our members and many of their partners have passed away,” Mrs Jacomb said. “Some have already turned 80 and 11 more will celebrate that birthday this year.”
Notices of the reunion have been sent out but if any local people have been missed and would like to come they are invited to contact Robert Jung at his menswear shop in Parker Street.
Mrs Jacomb, nee Duff of Hillcrest, has lived in Melbourne since her marriage in 1962 and organised the first reunion.
Others have organised subsequent reunions, including a three-day “big bash” in 2006 – but Mrs Jacomb is taking the reins for the last get-together.
The class included Don Coleman, who became NSW State Architect, and another student who didn’t pass his Leaving Certificate, but went back to school later and won the University of Western Sydney medal.