50th Anniversary Reflections



Speech for KHS Anniversary Cocktail Party


I began my studies at Kew High School in 1994, a time when the entire student population could fit into the school theatre, although 7F had to sit on the floor. There were six year seven classes that year, the largest cohort for some time. There were only two computer rooms. More year sevens arrived as we moved up the school, and more buses needed to be added to the Ivanhoe route. We graduated from being crammed into the theatre to sitting on the floor of the gym for assemblies. Portables began to appear, taking away parts of the quadrangle and the soccer pitch.


Tonight I can see the many physical changes that have occurred here since I finished school. Over six years, you tend to feel at home somewhere, and in my mind, I can still visualise walking the corridors of the school, up the staircase in the centre of the main building and into classrooms where I once sat nineteen years ago. The Drama Room was the home of year level assemblies, lunchtime concerts and music lessons, with its ubiquitous black wooden furniture. The VCE common room always seemed to smell of cheese and an ageing vending machine still issued lemonade cans for $1, if you were feeling lucky. The area near the teachers’ car park was a suitable lunchtime picnic spot.


Far more important than the buildings were the teachers. Jan Molloy was enthusiastic about History and loved sharing its importance with young people. Graeme Hope used to quote ‘The Castle’ in year 10 Business Studies, and probably still does. David Snaddon took all the girls in 10C to play mini golf in the city, leaving the boys behind because they had behaved too badly during the previous week. Beth Young was Signora to us for four years of Italian classes and increasingly complicated role plays. Rosalie Tuohy was our debating coach. In year seven I was terrified of her, until I realised that this was all an act, to squash the year seven all-boys class she taught into submission. Pam Gawith, our Maths and Science teacher in year seven, was kind and caring and the perfect person to introduce overwhelmed students into the world of secondary schooling. Clare Entwistle looked after our year seven English class for a term, reading the dialogue in ‘Playing Beatie Bow’ aloud in a suitable accent.


Lawrie Carter taught us how to measure the height of the school using trigonometry . Anne Gillard told us that while we could live a perfectly satisfying and happy life without the semi-colon, the VCE English assessors would be impressed by its use in our essays. Meredith Peace once asked us to sort out the rubbish, food scraps and recyclables in year eight Science, from the school’s rubbish bins. Ruth Collard taught us the subject of Health and Human Relations, or ‘sex ed’, and did not shy away from a frank discussion of these important issues. Graham McKenzie was our VCE Literature teacher, informing us that we would all fail if we did not cry after reading Cleopatra’s death scene. There are too many others to name individually, but I have no doubt that my experiences of learning in the classrooms at Kew High School have prompted my own entry into the teaching profession.


Every student at Kew would have had different experiences, as there were many opportunities for involvement in different areas of school life and the wider community. Here is a brief sample of some of those in which I was able to participate:

  • Assisting in organising the Regional Constitutional Convention
  • Debating as part of a team that made the C-Grade finals in 1997
  • Writing material for the school year book
  • Working at the Planetarium as part of the Museum Mentor Program
  • Performing as part of different groups in assemblies and concerts
  • Completing community service at a local primary school
  • Meeting authors Nick Earls and John Marsden
  • Participating twice in the annual Staff vs. Students debate, winning once and losing once, although I’m sure that was rigged.


I still remember sitting down in the theatre on the first day, in uniform for the first time, with that sense of anticipation and nervousness and wondering what would lie ahead. In that period of time, many changes have occurred at Kew. I am sure, however, that Kew is still a place where teachers provide care and support and where there are opportunities for everyone.


Sara Chomiak



A Singing Reunion

Forty years! Are we mad?

A group of ex-students from Kew High School are meeting each week to rehearse for a show. After a life of careers, marriage, children and even grandchildren, most ex students have not sung a lot!

Joined by some current talented Kew High School singers we are celebrating the 50thanniversary with a selection of songs representing a number of eras at the school – Gilbert & Sullivan, Broadway, The Beatles.

Returning to our school after 40 years, we found the rolling lawn at the front of the school replaced by a theatre, drama studio and music rooms.  What a fabulous tribute to the long standing tradition of music created at Kew High in the late 1960’s and continued today.

School reunions are often great opportunities to renew friendships, but the chance to recapture our wonderful singing moments has provided an even better experience and reignited our amazing memories of performances.

But what do you do if you haven’t sung for decades? Just like a car you need to use your voice as often as possible. Leaving a car in the garage for years on end will flatten the battery and tyres. Likewise this will happen to your voice!  A few minutes every day of gentle humming and singing along to your favourite songs will slowly rejuvenate your voice.

After 10 weeks, our voices have really started to change.  We are a team again! Our memories have been revitalized as we busily remember words and movements and more importantly we are smiling & having great FUN!

Hooray for our fantastic singing days at Kew High. Just like riding a bike, singing does not leave you.  The joy of singing has returned and everyone is so positive.

Class of ’71 on the Rolling Lawns of KHS.

Julie McKenna (nee Holah). Student at Kew High School, 1966 – 1971.





 I think I was there from 69 to 74 i’m now 57. I think I missed out on something, I don’t remember plays or dramas. I did like art classes, for some reason Miss Collis stands out! I remember in 1st form walking past the woodwork room and some 3rd formers had another 1st former and they had nailed his nice new school shoes to a wide plank of wood put his feet in them, tied the laces up super tight so he couldn’t get his feet out, tied his hands behind his back and left him wobbling in fright. I thought it was really funny but I bolted ‘cause I thought I could be next! The 3rd formers were a pretty mean bunch that year, I remember they got a kid and flushed his head in the dunny. Certainly made sure I flushed after every use in case my head was next. We used to take our pocket knives to school so we could play splits on the grass. Throw the knife at the outside of your opponents leg until he got the splits and fell over. Another splits was hitting each others rulers with the edge of yours until they split. The only winner was the newsagent. A sneaky trick was to pit a little nick in someones ruler so when the drew an underline it left a dint in the line. I never participated in this act. There were only a few fights at school. Ray Shortis and Serge Terishinkio was the Big One but it was all over in a flash. Everybody got on with most . I bought a packed of stink bombs to school one day and let them go in the girls lunch room towards the end of lunch, the smell of rotten eggs wafted through the school. The teachers thought there was a gas leak until some one found a stink bomb that hadn’t gone off. Best $5 ever spent. That was my big secret for a while. One day we were waiting for the tram to go to the pool for p.e. Some kids decided to wag and spent the day up the drainpipe that goes under high st and kilby rd. [I think it started at Glass Creek][ It was about 8ft diameter, you could ride your bike up it. About 400yards up was a big room that was right under the tramstop and the kids had lit a fire and were smoking away bagging the crap out of anybody and everybody. The teacher was not happy and not long after that the Board of Works put a gate over the entrance. Buggers. We used to get told off for kicking the footy on the quadrangle, where else were you to go if down the back was wet. We would pinch the girls basketballs and play keepings off. I hope to catch up with some old mates as we all went our different ways after leaving school.


Simon Greany.






It’s definitely thanks for the memories.



My first thoughts about Kew High School came after I had spoken with the education department about the possibility of transferring back to city following two years teaching in the country.  I was told to “don’t even think about it as that school is part of the Golden Belt in Victoria.”  How lucky was I to be transferred to Kew for my third year teaching?  And the Department was right as I soon found out.


In my first year at KHS, in 1967, I soon realised that the Art Department would be an exciting place to work, especially with such an inspiring leader as Geoff Allingham.  He was responsible for me building up my confidence as a teacher.  He was a gentle man and obviously liked by all the students, as he treated them with respect and was an extremely good listener.  Just being in his classrooms was the best learning environment for a young teacher.


I left KHS after two years as I was offered a senior position with a school division in Northern Alberta, Canada.  It was my role to develop courses and assist art teachers in all the local high schools.  Being Northern Alberta it was cold, very cold but enjoyable despite the seven or so months of snow each year.


I returned to Kew HS at the end of 1971 but found that Geoff Ellingham had left but the Art Department was still as exciting as it was in my first two years.  In those first two years a number of well know local artists had sent their children to the school because of its reputation.  That reputation grew even more over the subsequent years because of the directions taken by the then Principal.  In fact the Arts in general were very popular in the curriculum because of the great work Judith Curfey, and later Julian Cairns, were doing with the Music Department.  The Drama Department, with Maggie McIlwrath, was also a vibrant and tireless environment.


The students over my years at Kew were the most incredibly talented group I have taught.  As teachers, I think we all felt excited by their exuberance and commitment in our classes.  Many of these students have gone on to become significant contributors in the Arts here in Australia and internationally.


One Kew High student was awarded the most prestigious International Art Award at the 2003 Venice Biennale while others have taken up extremely important art teaching positions in Tertiary Institutions and High Schools or writing as the Art Critic for The Age newspaper   Some of these students are still continuing to exhibit their work in galleries around Melbourne.  Others have moved into more Arts administrative roles encompassing Arts Festivals and specific groups such as the world renowned Indigenous Black Arm Band.


I left Kew HS at the end of 1976 and began designing for theatre in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra as a result of being involved in designing for numerous Kew High School productions.  I am still painting and exhibiting here in Melbourne, and yes, I was lucky enough to commence my career as part of the “Golden Belt “ Kew High School.


Graham McKenzie






Dear Clare Entwisle,


I am writing to inform you of the death of one of the first matriculation class from Kew High, Isaac Schweitzer, known as Issy to his school friends and family. Issy died suddenly on February 1st, as a result of a previously undetected aggressive form of lymphoma. 


Issy was a remarkable man, both privately with his family and friends, and publicly, in his role as a psychiatrist, professor at Melbourne University, and medical researcher. His funeral service today, at Temple Beth Israel was filled almost to overflowing. The tributes to him give some sense of the warmth and affection and gratitude with which he was regarded. 


Professor Patrick McGorry gave the eulogy, outlining his extraordinary contributions to psychiatry in Australia, and internationally. 


Issy is survived by his wife Suzanne, and his sons Oliver and Edward. 


All this sounds rather clinical and distant, but for those who were part of that quite remarkable first group to take Leaving and then Matriculation at Kew in 1966-67, Issy's loss, especially so suddenly, has been wrenching. His close friend, Jerzy Filar, Professor of Mathematics at Flinders University, wrote this:


From school boy days at Kew High School, through Melbourne Uni, Albert Park, Baltimore and New York and back down under, we shared so much over the past 48 years. Even when we did not see each other for long periods, I always knew I could count on you and that you were only a phone call away. Why has it all gone so quickly?! I'll miss you terribly my dear friend. Farewell. 
Jerzy Filar


Others from that same class who could not get to the funeral, such John Rostas, professor of biomedical sciences at Newcastle University and current president of the Australian Neuroscience Society, and Alison French, Darling Fellow at the ANU, were shocked and grieving at the news. 


For myself:


Issy, Even almost fifty years after we met on our first day at Kew High, your smile floats up in my mind. The idea that you, the gentlest amongst us, could be the first of us to leave, seems so impossible, so absurd. When the news came, I was undone with grief.


I decided to write to you, because it struck me, absurdly, that it has been almost half a century since we were all there, and that it somehow is right that the school know a little of what happened to one of the most remarkable people in that first group. Issy, together with Jerzy, John and myself, and three others, made up the Matric physics class that year. It was taught reluctantly, and brilliantly, by Jeff Thomas, our chemistry teacher, only on the basis that we agreed to undertake it cooperatively, with him sharing the teachers subject manual with us, because he had to learn it all again with us. 


As with Alison French and others in the humanities stream who went on to do remarkable things, such as Cresside Collette (weaver, and founder of the Victorian tapestry Workshop) and Anna French (award-winning ballet designer), Issy, and Jerzy, John and myself have felt fortunate to have been at the school at that time, with some extraordinary teachers (Brian Conway and Roger Dedman in Maths, Margaret Williams in English Literature and Asian History, Geoff Allingham in Art, with Ron Hodge as principal, and Bob Dessailly as vice principal - a nest of fine VSTA rads), and a rich network of friendships that has endured. 


I attach copies of some photos of Issy, including the daggy matric class photo we must all endure!


With best wishes


Professor Richard Tanter
School of Social and Political Studies, University of Melbourne,
Senior Research Associate, Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability 


PS I'm very pleased to hear about the event, and that the school is thriving. If I can be of help to the school any other way after the event do let me know. 


I just want to reiterate what I said in the letter, that I am very grateful to the teachers who were there then, to the friends I made, and to the state school system as a whole for the most important part of my school education. In these days of governments shifting from seeing government schools as a public good to a welfare burden I am all the more grateful to those who are working to maintain those public schools. Both of our boys came through the public school system (Northcote High, Melbourne High, and Sydney Road Community School), and feel gratitude and loyalty to that system





Hello, my name is Fiona Dey and I attended Kew High School from 1971-1976. I lived in East Kew until 2004 but since then I have resided in country Victoria. Health issues prevent me from attending the 50th anniversary celebrations in person, hence this blurb.


I remember being involved in a number of the musical productions that were produced by Judith Curphey and Kate Birch including the junior choir (which sang before HMS Pinafore), Oliver, The Gypsy Baron, The Gondoliers, and Salad Days. I also sang in the choir at the opening of the theatre (I remember the band really cranking up when we did “Prepare ye the Way of the Lord”) and in a production in Room 209 that I can’t recall the name of but I think it was for Christmas. I never thought of myself as a great singer but I auditioned for a solo once and I was given it, and then for some reason (I think I was sick) it was given to someone else. Probably just as well as I was very nervous, which I now regard as ironic because later in life I worked as a sessional lecturer for many years, and I have also done a number of other professional presentations.


My school reports and photos are in storage, and while I think I generally did well academically there was the odd bad result. I was sick in 3rd Form and when I recovered my parents took me on a driving trip around Australia, and I remember being given a bad fail for one subject that year. Also I didn’t think that I was going to pass the HSC maths exam so I didn’t study for it. I decided to put my energy into my other subjects instead, and then I got 48 percent for maths so I was annoyed because if I had studied for it I probably would have obtained a good result. However, I was still accepted into my first preference, which was behavioural science at La Trobe. After I graduated with my Bachelor degree I intended to do social work but then I decided to go into nursing. I only lasted a short time in a hospital-based nursing course but after a break I started a then fairly new tertiary course. During it I discovered naturopathy but I stuck out the three years before I started a four-year naturopathy course. When I finished it I vowed that I’d never do any more study but after working for about ten years I started a Masters by research degree at RMIT in 2000 with the intention of converting it into a PhD. Initially I was full-time but unfortunately I hit a number of bureaucratic obstacles and then my mother died in 2002 after a short illness, and from then on I had to contend with various other disasters (some related, some unrelated) so I never did convert to PhD. In 2011, after being part-time for some years and then taking leave of absence due to health issues, I finally submitted my thesis. I did a clinical trial investigating the use of herbal medicines in the treatment of children with ADHD, and my thesis received the highest grade of pass available (no amendments) from both of my independent examiners. I was stunned, and then even more flabbergasted when I discovered that they were both overseas professors.


I hope that I don’t sound arrogant about my academic achievements because I’m not like that, rather I’m mentioning them as it was the grounding that I was given by those who taught me at Kew High School (and earlier at primary school) that enabled me to achieve these things (along with perseverance and being stubborn). Finally, I’m still in regular contact with a number of friends from my school days, and I really value their friendship.  


 Kew High School Reflections by Fiona Dey






Reading some of the former students reflections has stirred up a lot of emotions and memories about my school days.

I graduated in 1974. I am 56. Back in those days there was no fanfare to send us on our way to navigate the bumpy road Of life. There was a dinner at the Eltham Barrel and that was it.


It is rather ironic that I have been a teacher for over 35 years as most of my HSC teachers  deemed me unsuitable For an academic career. Back then I was hungry to succeed in school and in life. Although I struggled along to pass my 2 English Subjects and my 3 History subjects, I was very lucky to get a place at Toorak State College where I graduated with a Diploma Of Primary Teaching. I then began to complete a Diploma of Special Education specialising  in Intellectual handicap.

I spent the next 6 years teaching in Special Education settings and after that I have taught Primary, mostly in disadvantaged Southern suburbs of Melbourne.


Some of my personal highlights have been my two marriages and having a son at 38 after 4 years treatment at Monash IVF.

Being a guest at the 1989 Academy Film Awards was an experience, but surviving Breast Cancer has been the best yet.


Highlights from School:


*         Being sent home in 1969 at recess to watch Man walk on the moon.


*         In 1972 the students at KHS went on strike and refused to attend classes after recess on the day of the Vietnam


*         Moratorium in the city. The school was featured on the front page of The Age the next day.


*         Being dressed up in an Indian sari lent to me by a teacher to play Mary in a Christmas Musical.


*         Trying to cope with 2 three hour exams on the same day on the hot third floor sans air-con.

Best day of High School. Getting that letter!


And in the end I have learned above all the power to surviveand succeed is within me. During my career of teaching the children and the grand Children of the Indo Chinese wars of the 70s I have never told a parent that their child will not make something of themselves. They may Surprise us all in the future.


Best Wishes for the 50th Anniversary.

Kind Regards from.........................



Linda Brodie

Reading Recovery Teacher

Keysborough Primary School





I’m David Boadle, now aged 56 and living with my wife Marie in Sandy Bay, Hobart, overlooking the Derwent estuary and the Hobart city.

We have four children, two of whom live in Melbourne. I moved to Hobart at the end of year 10 (KHS), gained a place in the UTAS Medical School, and have lived and worked in Tassie since 1972. My main career has been as a Physician Cancer Specialist, with an eight year stint as Chief Medical Officer for Tasmania.

Apart from enjoying Tasmania’s wonderful habitat through bushwalking, my other main interest is cricket: started out as a junior coach, now President of the South Hobart – Sandy Bay Cricket Club (home of Australian players George Bailey and Xavier Doherty).


I was at Kew High from 1969 – 1972 (we were “transported” to Van Diemen’s Land)


My three main memories of Kew High are:


1.      The fantastic musical productions, and having the privilege of playing the Artful Dodger in the 1972 production of “Oliver”


2.      The commitment and dedication of our teachers to provide the best learning opportunities (I still remember most of my teachers’ names)


3.      Trying to avoid falling in the mud while playing kick to kick down in the bog (that’s no longer there) beyond the basketball courts. It made you work on core strength to stay on your feet, as the afternoons were long and uncomfortable in class with muddy trousers!


My time at Kew High gave me a firm foundation for scholastic life (to cope with a huge upheaval at age 15 to a very foreign system and culture). I was able to make my mark at the then Hobart Matriculation College (where you did years 11 and 12), and gain a place in medical school. Kew High also provided me with the confidence to participate in local theatre productions with the “Old Nick Company” in Hobart. I’m very grateful to Kew High School.


My message: “Be proud of our school, it’s a great school, and make sure the students of the next 50 years can look back as fondly as we do at our time as students of Kew High”.



Best wishes, Dave Boadle


Dr David Boadle

Staff Specialist in Medical Oncology

Royal Hobart Hospital




I remember (from 1971-76)


Cross country ski trips with Bruce Osborne staying in Mt Beauty which must have been before the education enforced guidelines on what one can and can't do on those trips - as I clearly remember our counter meal at the pub.


Bush walking trips with Des Russell and co. Highlight being the cradle mountain walk in 1975.


The fabulous drama classes led by the young Maggie Morrison and the great plays she put - highlight being Dark of the Moon.


Robert Dipierdemenico (our most famous alum?) punching up a kid after a social and then being hugely apologetic the next day.


Brad Grydson and I putting on a play in a studio (taxi driver) at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1974? For channel 7? Who were demonstrating colour TV which was brand new at the time. Our play was transmitted to colour TVs all around the show grounds.


Boys vs Girls football game in the nearby oval on Harp Rd. Played in heavy mud. Photo of one of the mud covered girls flicking her hair appeared in the local paper with the caption "even playing football a girl has time to look after her hair". (Much to her annoyance.)


Hearing from one of the teachers that "Gough Whitlam" had just been sacked as I walked out of an exam on November 11 1975.


Performing in "Oliver" in 1971 directed by Judith Kirby??



Larry Kamener

Senior Partner and Global Leader of the Public Sector Practice THE BOSTON CONSULTING 





"I look back on my days at Kew High with great fondness and a realisation that our experience there was a unique and formative one in many ways - and for me at least, a most enjoyable one.  One example is the consequences of Jeff Thomas's decision to volunteer to take matriculation Physics despite not being qualified to do so (as there wasn't a qualified physics teacher the school would not have been able to offer a matriculation class in sciences that year had he not volunteered).  But he did so on the condition that he was able to provide the teacher's instruction manual to the students and that the students undertook to teach themselves with his role being left to coordinate practical classes and attend to administrative details. This was a tremendously empowering educational experience for all of us.  In my case it changed my approach to education (both consciously and unconsciously) and led to my participation in a number of experimental innovations in education including being recruited to the medical school at the University of Newcastle that established Australia's first completely integrated, problem based medical degree and subsequently Australia's first problem based biomedical science degree."

John A.P. Rostas, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Sciences,

President, Australasian Neuroscience Society, and Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) Faculty of Health The University of Newcastle Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia





"I graduated from KHS in 1970, and spent all my high school years there. Life at school got MUCH BETTER when Mrs Judith Curphey arrived to transform the Music Department into a place of joy and stimulation. Taking part in music every day of the week was the only thing that kept me at school, so I was very fortunate that she joined the school when she did. She instituted House Choir Competitions with student conductors and organisers, so I conducted my House Choir 2 years running. In my 2nd year of conducting my choir, my sister Caroline also conducted her House Choir, so we were competing for the same honour. I was in the production of "Pirates of Penzance" (Mabel) as well as "The Mikado"(one of the 3 sisters, the middle one I think). I know that there seems to be talk of remounting some bits of some of these ancient productions, but I have to say that I WOULD DEFINITELY NOT SING IN ANY OF THEM!! I had short hair for all of my school life until I needed to be Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, so started growing it and used a long hair piece for the character. I liked the look so much I kept growing my hair and have had long hair since I was 16. I have spent my life as a composer for theatre, radio and film and whilst I still love to sing, it is for my music room and husband to hear, and no-one else. I got really interested in writing music for theatre when I was in the KHS library one day looking up information on Bertolt Brecht, who we were studying at the time, and read in a foot note that he had had some involvement with a composer called Kurt Weill who seemed to have written music for many plays by Brecht in the 1920s and 30s and 40s in Germany and France. I decided there and then, that if  man called Kurt Weill could make a living as a composer for theatre (not musicals) in 1920 and 1930, than it had to be possible for me as a woman to make a living writing music for theatre in Australia in the 1970s. So I set about achieving this aim. The first professional production I composed and arranged for was the first all woman production at The Pram Factory called "Betty Can Jump". I have written a song cycle for baritone called "Mountain Songs" and it has been performed on ABC Radio, as well as making its premiere performance at the Castlemaine Arts Festival. I was commissioned to write an opera by the Victorian Opera, and it was performed by them in December 2010. It is titled "The Cockatoos" and is based on the novella of the same name by Patrick White. I have written a few scores for films and 2 of these films won AFI awards, while another short film was screened in the Cannes Film Festival in 1994. There's lots of other work I've done, but it's best left for a different forum than this. When I was in Year 10 one of the teachers started a bush-walking club and after hearing about how great such events were, I joined. Although, on my
first hike I had really heavy and uncomfortable boots on, and ended up a cripple for 3 days due to blisters on my feet, I decided that if I had lighter shoes, it'd be much better. And it was. I ended up co-running the bush- walking club in Year 11 and some of Year 12, and we did weekend trips as well as some 4 day trips to Wilson's Prom and other places. I haven't continued hiking in the bush but still love to be out in it. I lost all contact with my friends from school, almost as soon as the exams were over, but I was young, keen and very ambitious, although I spent my school years looking like an ordinary girl of little interest, and in truth, my friends were all much more interested in things I didn't care for. I have since had some brief contact with Barbara Kerr (now Kemp) who was in the same year as I was, but it is very intermittent. I was friends with Jill McVicars and Elizabeth Rowe, both of whom I expected to find running some important Government department or research institution, but they may have changed their surnames when/if they got married, so I have no idea what happened to them. I never changed my surname. My brother Jeremy graduated the year before me, my sister Caroline finished at KHS 2 years after me, and my sister Annie 4 years after me. Our nephew James Turnbull went to KHS for all of his High School years and he graduated in 2011."


Sarah deJong


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