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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 287

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (19:47): The year 2013 marked the sesquicentenary celebrations for Ipswich Grammar School. IGS, as it is known locally, is not only the oldest secondary school in Ipswich, it is the oldest secondary school in Queensland. Officially opened on 25 September 1863 by Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Governor of Queensland, Ipswich Grammar School opened with 16 students, four staff and the inaugural headmaster, Mr Stuart Hawthorne, a graduate of the University of Sydney.

Imagine, if you will, the Ipswich of 1863 with the Governor of Queensland about to arrive. Every shop and business closed its doors and the residents donned their finery and lined the streets to welcome the Governor and Lady Bowen. The Governor and Lady Bowen were welcomed by a 50-strong body of the Ipswich Infantry Rifle Corps—which I might add was noted by the Courier as 'more than Brisbane was able to muster for the opening of parliament'. The Governor gave a 'brief but eloquent and impressive address', according to the Courier.

Sir George encouraged students to work hard and be diligent in their studies and the teachers to add to their stores of knowledge so that, in the words of the late Dr Arnold, one of the greatest teachers of any age, their pupils 'may drink not from a stagnant pond, but from a fresh running stream'.

I had the pleasure of attending one of the school's sesquicentenary functions at which the present Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley, spoke. The year 2013 was a remarkable year for the school, starting with a red-carpet special assembly on 11 February, at which members—including past school captains from the class of 1963—participated in a vintage car rally.

About a month later the school launched The Story of Ipswich Grammar School, an impressive-looking commemorative book, beautifully written and meticulously researched by Sophie Church, former IGS teacher and historian. The book was officially launched to a crowd of about 150 people by the former state member for Ipswich, Sir Llew Edwards. We learn in the book of the institution's 15 headmasters and the notable successes of many students, including famous engineer, Dr John Bradfield and former High Court Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs. We learn of the controversial 1950s period, when there was a rapid succession of headmasters who had apparently fallen out with the board. At the event, the current school headmaster, Robert Henderson, spoke of the pride and excitement felt by the students, past and present, at the institution's 150-year milestone, and at the launch of the commemorative book.

Ipswich Grammar School has a reputation for academic success and sporting excellence. A common misconception in the community is that private schools are the domain of the elite and wealthy. They are not. In Ipswich's history the sons of railway workers, coalminers and tradesmen could be found at a private school. Boys from all different walks of life attend, and have attended, Ipswich Grammar School. In fact, this is reflected in the school's motto, 'Every boy, every chance, every day,' which was adopted by the school in 2007.

During her research Sophie Church discovered a common theme amongst old boys. She says:

Ask an Old Boy from any generation, and they will invariably tell you that what they valued most about their school days is that they were given a realistic introduction to life.

Along with the school's record for academic and sporting achievements, these words are high praise indeed. I take this opportunity to extend my sincere congratulations to the principal and CEO, Robert Henderson; John Kent, chair of the board of trustees; the board itself; teachers; staff; students; and the whole school community of Ipswich Grammar School.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to share with them the joy, pride and celebrations they have experienced throughout this momentous year. I was pleased to be there at the induction of their school leaders last week. I am sure that the pride and sense of achievement will be with the whole school community for many years to come.