FOUR GENERATIONS: Norm Wren with son Trevor Wren, granddaughter Jane Kerridge and great grandson Ben Kerridge.
FOUR GENERATIONS: Norm Wren with son Trevor Wren, granddaughter Jane Kerridge and great grandson Ben Kerridge. Matthew Purcell

School in the blood

WHEN Norm Wren embarked on his education, walking 2km across the paddock of his family farm to Severnlea State School each morning, it was the dawn of a long family tradition that continues to this day.

Mr Wren, now 94 and known as 'pop' among his family, will proudly watch on as his great-grandson Ben begins Prep at the same school in 2018, the same year that Severnlea is set to celebrate its centenary.

Mr Wren - who still lives in Stanthorpe with his wife Dot - began at the school in 1928 and could be the oldest former student at the 100-year anniversary set for November 3 next year.

Mr Wren's seven brothers also attended the school and his six children walked the same 2km five days a week - often across the frosty paddock in bare feet - as did his grandchildren, albeit wearing shoes.

Granddaughter Jane Kerridge - five-year-old Ben's mother - said her second son Zac would also start at the school in 2019.

Mrs Kerridge said that with her older brother, Tim, and twin sister, Laura, she loved her local, community-spirited education, where she shared a classroom with 20 children and knew all of the other 50-60 students in the school.

"It's just a great family tradition for me. I loved primary school, and I loved going there,” she said.

"We lived at the same farmhouse where my grandparents lived and we could walk across the paddock or ride our bikes to school. There wasn't a day I didn't enjoy going to school.

"I remember we used to hold the cross country for the other schools at our school, across the paddock, and it was always a lot of fun.”

Mrs Kerridge, who is part of a reunion committee organising next year's gala which is expected to attract around 500 people.

Severnlea, originally named Beverley School, started with 17 pupils in 1918 and consisted of one small building set high on wooden stumps with stairs and a little verandah.

Mrs Kerridge is hoping the reunion will spark memories for many. She said there would be plenty of poignant and nostalgic reflection, but also a few good tales from the early days.

School principal Alun Roberts said the centenary was a significant celebration as it would give current students the chance to understand that while much has changed over the past 100 years, many things had also stayed the same.

"It also gives the community the opportunity to reconnect with friends that they have not seen for a period of time and allows them to relive memories, tell stories and reminisce with familiar people,” Mr Roberts said.

"It allows the wider community to engage in an historical experience that can be had by the whole family.

There will be many activities including historical displays and games, time capsules, BBQ lunch, kids activities, evening entertainment and a museum.

The school will also take part in the Apple and Grape festival (23 February-4 March 2018) with a float to help advertise the event.

The all-day reunion celebration which includes an evening social gathering is planned for Saturday, November 3, 2018.

The school or reunion committee can be contacted via a Facebook page: Severnlea State School 100 Year Reunion, or phone or email to the school. 

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