ALL CLASS: The first known class photograph taken in 1920.
ALL CLASS: The first known class photograph taken in 1920. Contributed

A century in a tin shed

OFFICIALLY opened on September 22, 1915, Kandanga School was originally little more than a tin shed.

One former student described it as a temporary building with the northern and eastern sides made of canvas. When it opened that warm spring day, there were 26 pupils enrolled with a further 13 to swell their number by the end of the year.


The original 'tin shed' in 1915.
The original 'tin shed' in 1915. Contributed

The original tin building was largely inadequate for the task, proving to be swelteringly hot in summer, so much so the children complained of headaches.

Several of the children not in the immediate area would ride ponies to school, sometimes travelling several miles to and from class.

The building was lengthened in February 1916, but it was decided to build a new, more permanent building a year later and the official opening was on St Patrick's Day, 1917.

The new building had two rooms and a veranda on three sides, with an entire wall a dedicated blackboard, something that was previously unheard of.

1919 was an eventful year for the school. A fenced off area was created for the students' horses and the flu epidemic caused the school to close twice, the first for four days in May and the second for almost three weeks in June.


Students rehearsing their maypole dance for the centenary in 2015.
Students rehearsing their maypole dance for the centenary in 2015. Greg Miller

1927 saw the introduction of some unusual curriculum items, including cow testing, calf raising, poultry keeping, gardening, growing fodder crops, cooking and forestry.

It was also the year of a sudden diphtheria outbreak, who many blamed on the sodden school grounds.

After rain, it was not unusual for the children to sink in the mud and water up to their ankles.

Several parents threatened to pull their children from school if the drainage problem was not addressed. The school was able to install some drainage that was at least partially effective, before the situation was finally resolved in the 70s.

The principal's residence was built in 1932, and soon after, former Head Teacher E H Chapman started the first Kandanga State School Choir, which received many accolades.

In 1942, during the Second World War years air-raid trenches were dug. The school would frequently have air-raid drills and the students were encouraged to join the junior red cross.

The following year, the first school "bus" service was formed by Mr Percy Perrett. Mr Perrett would drive his Ford F100 18cwt truck, while the students would ride in the back before the bus service started in the 1950s.

A library room was opened in 1955 and two years later there was an official opening of an extension which incorporated a staff room and store room.

Kandanga school celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1965 with a celebration that incorporated a May Pole.


Students rehearsing their maypole dance for the centenary in 2015.
Students rehearsing their maypole dance for the centenary in 2015. Greg Miller

And in 1971 the Governor of Queensland, the Honorable Sir Alan James Mansfield, visited the school.

Teacher aides were appointed to help the teachers in 1975, which was also the same year the school celebrated its 60th anniversary and an official library and tuckshop were opened.

Early education classes were also started in 1975 for pre-schoolers.

The school underwent some re-modelling in 1979 to incorporate the pre-school part of the school community and it was during this decade the school decided to start school camps and class excursions.

In 1983 the school won the Tidy School competition for its waterfall garden and fish ponds, and the new covered areas.

Also in the early 1980s the Governor of Queensland, Commodore Sir James Ramsey, visited the school.


The Kandanga State School
The Kandanga State School Contributed

By 1990, the school was under the guidance of former Head Teacher Ian Mackay, who attended the centenary celebrations in 2015. It was also the year that long term office administrator Jeanna Maher started and it was the 75th anniversary of the school's opening.

Jeanna said even though student numbers fluctuated, the school remained an important part of the Kandanga landscape.

In 2014 the Kandanga State School opened another new building and in September 2015 celebrated its centenary with a weekend long celebration.

An exhibition of photos of former students started on the Friday evening. There was a fete on the Saturday, a dinner dance Saturday night and a prayer breakfast followed by a cemetery walk on Sunday.

Between 600 and 1000 people attended the celebrations from as far away as New Zealand, Tasmania and Northern Queensland.

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