Farewell Lake Heights Public School

News Feature & Weekly News

The reality of my imminent retirement has well and truly set in now, as plans for a farewell this Friday are gradually revealed to me. The students, P&C and staff led by Mrs Whyte, Mr Hurd and Mrs Griffiths have been quietly making preparations.
Some of you will be more aware of the plans in place than I am. Last Friday for example, I went to what I thought was a small Community of Schools meeting for principals at Warrawong High School. When I walked into the common room, I was greeted by a sea of student faces and a rousing, “surprise!”.

Past Lake Heights students had gathered quietly in the room before my arrival. I had no idea of what was planned and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the emotional effect it had on me. The students gave a presentation reflecting on their years at Lake Heights Public School and recalled many fond memories. It was an afternoon I won’t forget.

It was difficult to become a principal all those years ago but leaving is even more difficult.

I requested a rides day this Friday because I wanted my last day to be a fun day for students, staff and families to celebrate the things we’ve achieved together as a learning community. The day starts with an assembly at 10:15 for anyone who can make it. Fingers crossed for fine weather. We’ll let you know of any changes to plans as soon as we can but come rain, hail or shine, I do finish this Friday at the end of the school day.

This year, I have been humbled by countless well wishes and thanks. It is me though, that owes the biggest debt of gratitude.

As principal, I have been privileged to work with so many talented and dedicated colleagues and parents who know how to bring out the best in children. A perfect example this last week was the Southern Stars spectacular. Please take a few minutes to view the video Mr Hurd created of behind the scenes vision that gives some appreciation of the scale, talents, emotion, long hours and commitment that goes into creating life long memories. There’s a link in this week’s newsletter. The students will at some time, I’m certain, recount their experience, just like the ones at the high school did for me last Friday. Thank you Miss Hunter and Mr Hurd for your tireless dedication with this.

Likewise, last week’s book character parade led by Mrs Briggs and Mrs Ellsmore showed again what enthusiastic, supportive and in-touch students and families we have. It was yet another event that highlighted the commitment and unity that has long been a feature of Lake Heights Public School.

I could go back through recent weeks and events and very shortly you would read every staff member’s name for the additional leadership roles they take on. I have been very fortunate to have such a cohesive, dedicated and knowledgeable team.

My teaching career began in a one teacher school and so from the very start I came to appreciate and value community participation. Doing things collaboratively makes all the difference. Lake Heights P&C groups over the years have had a direct influence on the success of our school. After school activity programs that included music and sports, fundraising and now our well established community garden group are examples of the constructive ways that parent groups make a difference at LHPS. I would particularly like to thank and acknowledge the current P&C leadership; Lisa Ramsay, Belinda Hosa, Rachelle Molloy and Chrissy Talevska. Chrissy, Rachelle and Julie Nicholls also lead the Community Garden Group that too many families to mention, commit hours of passionate work to. Thank you.

Whether you’re a parent involved with a group in the school or someone who simply likes to come into the grounds, connect via Dojo or Facebook or read the weekly newsletter, your association with the school in whatever way will benefit your own children’s learning outcomes. I like that we are a school that shares its space with the community. I love that parents stay and chat after school while the children play. We’re a learning community and I hope that you will always feel welcome.

Two photos I’ve chosen for this particular farewell message were taken in 2003 when I arrived as a teaching principal. The grounds and teaching spaces have certainly changed. My role no longer includes classroom teaching as it did in the first number of years.
We’ve taken advantage of every space possible around the school, using increased funding over the years and the knowledgeable input of many as to how we could leverage the best learning from the physical improvements. Most recently, the adventure playground, complete external re-paint, sports building, playtime music, primary outdoor learning space and internal refurbishments have created what will be long lasting benefits to learning and student wellbeing.
What hasn’t changed at Lake Heights are the children. Every generation that has come through during my 16 plus years has been sincere, eager to learn and full of life. Visitors to our school, I’ve often said, can be guaranteed a welcoming Lake Heights smile from the children. School spirit can do much for building connectedness and that certainly exists at our school. I’ll miss it and be forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the little blue school beside the lake – “that school with the sign”.
Mrs Whyte will be your relieving principal from next week. Your school is in great hands! Mrs Whyte will be able to let you know during the coming weeks when a handover to a new principal is expected. It may not be long. Look to the future with excitement and optimism.

Farewell and thank you.
Peter Heddles