In 1963, 182 students were attending Noosa District SHS, with a staff of nine teachers. But whilst this was the formal opening of the high school on its current site, Cooroy High had actually been underway for two years previously operating out of the Cooroy State School campus in 1961, and then transitioning to the Tulip Street location during 1962. It would be fair to say that the establishment of the school by the early 1960s was largely due to the drive and tenacity of a small group of parents and community members who represented the interests of local state school communities.
Notable among this group was Mr Col Duke, who chaired the Cooroy State School P & C, and who took on the role of chairman of various groups and ministerial deputations in support of a separate high school in Cooroy. Mr David Low, then MLA for Cooroora, facilitated meetings between government ministers and the 'School Committee' over the period 1958-60. Mr Len Davis and Mr Frank Marryatt had also contributed greatly to the school's establishment.
Eventually, after a series of rejections, the then Inspector of Secondary Schools, Mr Roberts, recommended to the government the establishment of a secondary department in Cooroy from the commencement of the 1961 school year. Delays in construction (not unusual for school accommodation either then or now!) meant that in its first year, the Cooroy campus was located at the Cooroy State School site, with a secondary enrolment of 42 students.
* Secondary students from Cooroy travelled by train to Pomona (usually late).
* Secondary students from Tewantin had to board at the Nambour C.W.A. hostel in order to attend Nambour High School
* It was suggested to Tewantin parents that secondary students could consider catching a bus to Cooroy, then training to the Pomona school! (I'm not sure how long a school day that would entail!!)
* Substantial enrolment growth in all local centres meant that the secondary department options for Cooroy and Pomona were unviable, and given that Cooroy was then a central location in the district, there was little other option than to approve the construction of a separate high school.
The 'high top' year of 1961 saw secondary classes commence at Cooroy State School in classrooms at the eastern end of the main building. Mr John 'Jack' Chidgey' served as principal of both primary and secondary sectors, undoubtedly a challenging role considering the impending construction of the new high school on its Tulip St site. Core academic and commercial subjects were handled on site, with a small but enthusiastic staff of Miss Ilona Fagg, Mr 'Wally' McAlpine and the principal taking these classes. Practical classes in Domestic Science, Manual Arts and Agricultural Science were conducted either in Pomona or Nambour. These arrangements must have created some dilemmas in timetabling in that first year.
Whilst the face of the primary school was altered during that 1961 year, building was underway across the railway line on the new high school site, with approval for construction finally granted in March, 1961. Initial costing of £36000 (approximately $559000 in today's currency) was for a general purpose classroom block, as well as domestic science and manual arts wings. Extensions were already being planned, however, as future enrolments were indicative of further growth. In addition, as a state-wide initiative, Year 8 stydents were to commence secondary education for the first time in 1964. Previously, they had undertaken a Scholarship examination in primary school. (This makes an interesting parallel with the current educational initiative to move Year 7 students into high school.)
Some other interesting facts about the school's construction:
- The original school site of 6 hectares was resumed from its former owner, with compensation of £2000 ($31000 today) offered.
- A further 6.8 hectares was purchased in 1962, allowing the establishment of an agricultural program for the 1963 school year. Agricultural science programs have played a significant role in the history and success of the school since that date,
so this far-sightedness in 1962 proved to be of great benefit to the local community.
- Heavy rainfall delayed construction over several months, including well into the 1962 school year, when classes commenced at the new site. One of the foundation teachers related the story of conducting a physics' class on a builder's rubbish heap, because of the wet and muddy ground surrounding it! Room shortages were not uncommon at Noosa High as the school continued its steady enrolment growth over subsequent years. One well- known deputy-principal of the 1980s was remembered for including the rooms T1, T2 & T3 on the school timetable. T, of course, represented 'tree'!
- The school oval was not opened until 1965. This makes such an interesting contrast with the planning and construction schedules on new school sites today, where all facilities are largely provided before day one. We certainly can recognise the challenges teachers (and students) faced as the new high school in Cooroy was established.
So it was on 30 January 1962 that 119 students commenced school at the new site. Though still officially a secondary department attached to Cooroy State School, there was a strong sense of new beginnings in a new high school setting. While Mr Chidgey was on leave, Mr Coleman was the acting principal of Cooroy State School and the secondary department. Six teachers, covering the full range of subjects, completed the staffing complement. The secondary department was officially reclassified as Cooroy State High School in 1963. (It was not until 1968 that the school became Noosa District State High School, more accurately reflecting the diversity of students attending the school.)
In 1962, classes competed with the ongoing construction noise as earthworks continued unabated. To add to the complexity, Year 7 and 8 students from the primary school attended classes in Domestic Science and Manual Arts in the new 'state of the art' workshops . It would have seemed an interesting adventure for all concerned in those early months, as the wet season quickly turned grounds and approaches into a quagmire. Nevertheless, students from the sub-junior and junior years set a strong foundation for the new school. A second Annual Speech Night took place on 26 October 1962. Soon after, 43 students completed the Junior Public Examination of 1962, with seventeen students continuing on as 'sub-seniors' in the 1963 school year.
(It was common in the 1960s for many students to leave secondary school after the junior year(year 10), to take up employment. Most high schools today reflect almost 100% retention from Year 10 to Year 11).
Mr Col Humphreys became the foundation principal of the Cooroy State High School in January 1963. Enrolment had grown to 179 students and as the school filled its Years 9-12 classes, with year 8 to commence in 1964, there were strong indications of a rapidly expanding educational facility for the Noosa district.
1963 numbers were:
- 19 Form V (year11)
- 64 Form IV (year 10)
- 99 Form III (year 9)
By 1964, with the arrival of Year 8 into the high school setting, 290 students were enrolled. It was a significant growth factor that put pressure on buildings, classrooms, staffing and facilities.
Nevertheless, the school was to continue to advance incrementally through the following decades, both in terms of enrolment and educational opportunity for students. By 1980, over 600 students were enrolled, and by the year 2000, this number was to exceed 1200, despite the construction of other high schools on the coastal strip.
At the official opening ceremony on 25 May 1963, the Wide Bay Regional Director of Education, Mr F. Borchardt, remarked : "It was seen as necessary for all to have the opportunity of the broadening effects of secondary education." When we
consider the wonderful achievement of many thousands of students of Noosa District State High School since and including that time, this vision has been well and truly realised.