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Old school, new school and the family who've been with us from the start

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Submitted by on Wed 27/04/16 17:46

This year, Brisbane Adventist College proudly celebrates 50 years of serving the Brisbane community. As part of our nostalgic journey into the past, we’d like to acknowledge a very special extended family who have been with us from the start.

A total of 23 children, spanning three generations, have attended BAC from the Arthur/Gorry/Perrett/Fowler clan. “We’ve always had a passion for Christian education, regardless of the sacrifices we may have had to make in the process,” says Bev Gorry (nee Arthur), a matriarch of the family.

Bev’s parents were one of the founding BAC families. They supported the fledgling school by sending Brendan Arthur at the end of 1966 to attend the one-room school that catered for grades one and two only. He was later joined by his younger sister Winsome.

In the meantime, Brendan’s older sister Bev continued to attend her local public school. She remembers feeling a little out of place as an Adventist. With vegetarianism so uncommon in the 60s and Sabbath-keeping making her stand out as different, she says: "It was difficult to fit in and feel like I could be myself.”

This was instrumental in her decision to send all six of her own children to BAC. Bev was determined that her children would grow up in an environment where they could be themselves and thrive, and she knew she’d find this at BAC after watching her brother, sister and cousin (Juniece Perrett) go to school there and her mother drive the school bus for many years.

In fact, driving the BAC bus was a big part of Arthur family life. Mrs Arthur drove the Kingston route for more than seven years and was so dedicated (the story goes) that she planned to have her babies between school terms to avoid interfering with her responsibility of ensuring the safe travel of her young charges. (A high level of dedication continues to be common among our bus drivers, who typically maintain their bus routes for more than five years at a time.) All except two children from the entire Arthur/Gorry/Perrett/Fowler clan travelled to and from school using the BAC bus service.

Bev says that she has seen many of the early BAC traditions survive over time. Swimming, athletics and cross-country, lunchtime handball and basketball, combined worship, and devotional talks by the class teachers at the start of the day have always been part of the holistic education offered by the college.

Inevitably, there have also been changes. Graduation ceremonies, commonly called ‘Speech Night’, were once an evening for the entire school. Serving as a final celebration for a fantastic year, each grade showcased new talents and skills, and awards were handed out. Teachers also offered feedback to parents on their child’s progress because official report cards didn’t exist in the early days. As the school increased in size, whole school speech nights became impractical and the evenings became separate primary and secondary events.

The school uniform has also evolved since the early days. While there have only been subtle changes to the boys’ uniform, the girls’ uniform was updated several times. Initially, the girls wore a shift-style dress in a checked print common to all Adventist schools. Gradually the check became a distinctive BAC tartan. The dress also changed to a more A-line style and included a blouse and pleated skirt in high school, and distinctions between junior and senior students emerged. The girls’ socks picked up a blue stripe across the top, and the boys’ socks picked up a gold stripe.

As the school grew, buildings and learning spaces were renovated and extended, ensuring that our students had modern facilities and adequate spaces as they increased in numbers. Now we cater to around 600 students and employ over 80 staff members, we provide early learning education to Year 12, primary and secondary school spans a vast campus that includes modern, bright facilities and 21st century methods of learning and communicating.

Starting with Brendan Arthur in that first year, BAC took on a strong presence in the lives of the Arthur/Perrett family. Once the children grew up and Bev married into the Gorry family, the second generation saw 13 Gorry/Perrett/Arthur cousins attend BAC. Later, Deanne Gorry married Jonathan Fowler, and their four children (the third generation) were also sent to BAC. Youngest daughter, Samantha Fowler graduated at the end of 2015 and this year we celebrate 50 years!

The close bond we share with families like this encourages us to uphold our Christian values and continue our efforts to provide good quality Christian education to families in our community. God has truly blessed us by allowing us to be part of this family’s development, and yours, over our 50 year history.

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” – Matthew 19:26

PHOTO (below): Dean Gorry, Bev's oldest child, is ready to step through the gates of Brisbane Adventist School on his first day of school, just like his uncles did before him.

AUTHOR: After graduating from BAC in 2012, Kaitlyn Mitchell went on to study Communication at the University of Queensland. She now works at RSPCA QLD where she feels she is making a difference in the lives of others. She also freelances for various publications, including Fresh Writing.

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