AT THE START: Students line up in front of A block on their first day of school in 1964.
AT THE START: Students line up in front of A block on their first day of school in 1964.

School yard memories shared on this golden day

FOR 50 years Clifton State High School has stood at the forefront of education in the region, with more than 4000 students passing through the gates.

On Tuesday, January 28, 1964, the Clifton State Rural School Secondary Department opened with 112 students in Grade 8 and sub-junior (Grade 9).

Under the guidance of principal Ian Nisbet and a teaching staff of six, the students assembled on the lawn near A block in their uniforms - excited for their first day in their new school.

Foundation student and current teacher Mary-Janet Kath reflected on her first day of school.

"We were really proud of our school," she said.

"We were aware of the effort that went into creating the school.

"We were thrilled to have this school."

Chaos reigned on that first day, with just three of the four

classrooms operational and furniture borrowed until desks arrived the following day.

Foundation student Janette Bellingham said she remembered the first day like it was yesterday.

"We all turned up - there were no seats and no stools for us to sit on," she said.

"We had to wait until they found us something to sit on."

The addition of the secondary department on a 20-acre site on the eastern side of town was a godsend for the community, with the nearest secondary schools at the time situated in Warwick or Toowoomba.

Ms Kath, who has been a teacher at the school since the early 2000s, said the school saved students such as herself from having to be sent away to boarding school.

"That was the first year that Year 8 was implemented in high school," she said.

"Previously it was known as scholarship in primary school."

The school was officially declared as Clifton State High School in 1965 and was officially opened by J.C.A Pizzey in 1966.

In following years new buildings were added including the tuckshop and science laboratory in 1969, the home economics block in 1979 (rebuilt in 1980 after a destructive storm), the language arts centre in 1980, multi-purpose building in 1997 and the library in 2000.

Fast forward to 2014 and Clifton State High School continues to cement itself as a progressive and supportive environment for staff and students.

There were 267 students enrolled on the first day of the 2014 school year and, while the school has undergone significant change, particularly in recent years, it still continues to hold true to its motto Finis Coronat Opus or Success Crowns Effort.

Principal Joy Craig, who has been in the top job since 2010, wrote of her pride in the school in a special golden jubilee edition of Clifton High's Patchwork magazine.

"I feel proud and privileged to be at the helm of this vibrant learning institution with such a rich history," she wrote.

"It has been very rewarding to see the seeds of optimism, revival, school pride and achievement grow and mature."

This weekend the town of Clifton will come together to celebrate their school's milestone, with a number of events planned for the weekend.

Golden jubilee committee member and past student Amanda Beatson said there was a real sense of community for the event.

"We have people coming who didn't even go to the school," she said.

Ms Beatson, who was a student at Clifton High from 1979 to 1982, said organising the event had been like taking an exciting walk down memory lane.

"I've talked to so many people - many who I had never met," she said.

"It's been real interesting looking at the history of the school."

Tonight, 250 past students, staff and community members will gather at the Clifton Recreation Grounds for a Golden Jubilee gala evening with special guest speaker and past student Greg Platz.

The big day of Golden Jubilee celebrations is tomorrow, with as many as 500 people expected to pass through the Clifton State High School gates for an official open day.

Complete with self-guided tours, guest speakers and a church service, the open day includes displays, souvenirs and the launch of the Agriculture and Equine Centre Building Fund.

The open day will run from 11am to 4pm, and includes entertainment by Kevin Smith of Not Totally Country.

For more information about Golden Jubilee celebrations, phone 4697 4707 or 0437 641 277.

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