Looking back: Era ends at Toolamba West

By Tatura Guardian

December 14, 1993: Students have said goodbye to the Toolamba West Primary School for the time in 108 years.

The children spent their last day at the school in Friday and parents and friends held a family barbecue.

The relocatable classrooms and toilets will soon be moved to other sites.

Toolamba West is one of those schools where it is impossible to escape the rural environment.

Hot summer winds blow off the grazing country and the peppercorn and gum trees can be seen through every window of the building.

The flies used to come in, too, teacher Peter Lloyd noted noted wryly.

Just about every parent is on the school council and they had good roll ups to working bees.

‘‘Rural schools are fantastic. You get to know the parents; they drop in for a cup of coffee. The school gets involved on helping with any social problems because there is no other focus for the community.’’

The 19 students will go to either secondary schools or Toolamba, Dhurringile, Tatura East and Tatura primary schools next year.

The alternative primary schools are about 6km away.

The school council decided to recommend closure after speculation about the future of small, rural schools and the decision by some parents to move their children next year.

‘‘We felt we had had enough,’’ school council president Andy Crawford said.

‘‘Last year they were talking about closing 55 schools, and next year it was supposed to be schools under 22 kids.

‘‘There were some grey areas with annexation.’’

The school was also due to lose one of its two teachers next year under new staffing entitlements.

But Mr Crawford said they were focusing on the positives.

Parents still had the choice of sending their children to rural schools.

The extra students at the nearby schools has helped bolster their future.

The school enjoyed a concert night on Tuesday and council members has a dinner on Wednesday.

Teachers Peter Lloyd and Kerry Tuena did not know where they were going to be next year.

On a boulder near the entrance gate is a plaque, dedicated to a former school member Phillip McHugh, who died in a road accident.

‘‘We remember a friend, a true neighbour, a caring member of our community.’’

You don’t see many memorials like that in big schools.