June 2013 Newsletter - Richard (Dick) Bush YHS 1955

Dear Miss Jones It’s been a long time. Remember we exchanged letters back in January 1961 when you wrote after I had left school? You were pleased that a good number of us had passed our matriculation and you wished me the best for the future. At the time I thought it was a kind gesture and looking back on it now I see that you and the other teachers really cared about your charges and wanted us to do well. I had just started working in Melbourne and, rather too formally, replied to you on the crisp company letterhead with a fresh letterhead for each page. It turned out to be a rather bulky package. Well Mary, oh ... you don’t mind if I call you Mary do you? I guess not - not at this stage of our lives. After all it’s been over 50 years. Can you believe that! Can you believe that after all that time some ex-students are writing to this Newsletter questioning whether the school had an ‘academic ethos’. This came as a surprise to me. I always thought the school had a good reputation among high schools in Victoria. How you see your school days is a very personal thing and it’s now topical to debate the quality of individual schools and teachers. The latest ads by the very expensive Canberra Grammar School say rather too grandly: “We’ll help your child find the answers to life”. I wasn’t expecting answers to such monumental questions from YHS but was hoping I would leave school able to face the world outside Yallourn and Morwell. YHS did that for me. You will well remember the pressures the education system was under in the 1950s with the first of the baby boomer and immigrant children coming through. George Ellis repeatedly mentioned the problem of teacher shortages in his annual message in the Pylon and there were hints that YHS may not have been particularly well funded. This doesn’t come as a surprise given that money was required to establish the high schools in Moe in 1952 and Morwell in 1956. Ellis encouraged parents to leave their children at school rather than be drawn away by well-paid but unskilled jobs. I guess he was promoting an academic ethos in the school. Staying on at school did become more interesting. We all remember the joy we got out of the G&S operas and the choirs. The sports program was revitalised as well. But essentially it was the quality of teaching that made the school. I recall your history classes. You taught us to look beyond the obvious and arrive at our own interpretation of events based on the evidence - a good lesson for life indeed. I thought you were very smart in grooming us for the exams including encouraging us for homework to practice writing essay answers to old exam questions. Luckily, one of your practice questions turned up on the history paper to do with the impact of the gold rushes. Chris Warrell also did this in geography. I remember one faux pas I committed in writing off the port of Marseille because of silting (it happens to be France’s leading port in the Mediterranean). Talk about naive! The English paper had an essay question about life in ‘suburbia’. Suburbia!! I’d never come across the word. Fortunately, it was a multiple choice section so I left that one to our more knowing city cousins. Well, Mary, time to sign off and say one last ‘thank you’ for all you did for us. Let’s meet up soon. We have lots of catching up to do. Kind regards...Richard (Dick) Bush YHS 1955