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Sandgate High Celebrates 60 Years

Story: Christine Chamberlain
Apr 24, 2019
Friendships and memories formed more than 50 years ago will be revisited when Sandgate District State High School (SDSHS) celebrates turning 60, this month.

Often referred to as ‘Deagon Grammar’ in the early days, many of the school’s foundation students are getting together to mark the occasion and reminisce about old times.

Sandgate High opened on 27 January 1959, but the first classes were conducted in the Sandgate Town Hall – on the floor and on the stage – because the first school building (F block) was not completed.  That year, 151 foundation students (64 girls, 87 boys) began their secondary education, and on 13 February they finally moved over to the very bare, present site at Deagon.

The first students remember the school grounds with nothing but hay bales, horse paddocks, tea-tree swamp and incomplete school buildings. There were no office staff and the teachers were often found mowing the grass during their lunch breaks. The students spent their afternoons with spades and rakes getting the grounds ready for the ovals.

The school’s first principal, Mr Arthur A Vise, who spent 16 years at the school, remembered the interesting early days in the school’s Golden Jubilee book.

“The area was overrun with cattle and horses. Some of them from the nearby racing stables. The area was mainly swamp and to get to the toilets some hundred yards away was just a quagmire,” he said.

“The following year our numbers doubled, to over 300. Each year our numbers increased and so did our buildings until eventually we had over 1600 students and all facilities.’’

Brian Taylor, from the 1960 intake, has been responsible, over the years, for keeping in touch with past students and organising reunions. He remembers a very special and strong bond was formed between the students and staff at the new, emerging high school. 

“We all shared a common goal of making the new school something everyone could be proud of,’’ Brian said. 

To mark this special occasion, past students and their families are invited to attend SDSHS’s Open Day on 18 May, from 10am.

From 1pm past students will be encouraged to visit Block A, where memorabilia will be on display.

As part of the formalities, a framed photo of past student, Dame Carol Kidu (nee Millwater), will be presented to the school to be hung on the honour wall. Dame Carol Kidu was a Papua New Guinean politician and will be a special guest for the afternoon.

The principal will formally welcome all past students at 2pm, and a birthday cake will be cut by the oldest past students, Spiro Mostratos and Lyn Hatcher (nee Roach).

Spiro is remembered by classmates for his athletic ability and musical talent. His extended family owned numerous businesses in the area.

Lyn Hatcher has very fond memories of her time at Sandgate High, including students marking out their own soft ball diamond using hoes, shovels, picks and axes.

“Because we were such a small cohort, we really were like one big family,” Lyn said.

Following the formalities at the school, past students from the early years (1959 – 1964) are invited to the Post Office Hotel in Sandgate from 2.30pm-5.30pm. 

Buildings such as the Post Office and Sandgate Town Hall remain iconic buildings to the students who attended Sandgate High in the early years, past student Avon Evans (nee Trevena) said. 

“There is so much history in Sandgate and we are proud to have been a part of its earlier years.’’

Sandgate High Open Day & 60th Reunion, Saturday 18 May, 10am-2pm

For more information about any of the 60th birthday celebrations contact Sandgate High on 3869 9834, or Avon 0437 629 167, Brian 0429 344 025, or follow RUTC on Facebook.