Millicent kindergarten turns back time

The clock was turned back to 1971 on Saturday afternoon when the three foundation staff of Millicent North Kindergarten were reunited to mark its 50th birthday.

Overseeing the first intake of the 96 students were director Jenny Day and local support staff Joycelin Walker and Josie Werchon (nee Bowman).

The trio were among the hundreds at a celebratory open day.

For Ms Day, her three years at the helm of Millicent North Kindergarten were significant in her long career as an educator.

“Before coming to Millicent, I had only one year as a teacher at the Payneham Kindergarten in Adelaide,” Ms Day said.

“I did not drive a car at the time and I came to Millicent by bus.

“I shared a place with a teacher at Millicent High School.

“I remained in education all my working life and one of my final tasks was setting up the Learning Together centre at Newbery Park Primary School in Millicent.”

The longest-serving Millicent North Kindergarten director is Josie Miels and she had many fond memories.

“I lived in Millicent for 33 years and the people were beautiful,” Ms Miels said.

“My staff members at the kindergarten were excellent.

“I was a risk-taker and we re-built the yard and it became Play Space of the Year.

“I secured a Coastcare grant to hire a bus to make weekly visits to Southend.

“The children gathered rubbish from the beach and then brought it back to the kindergarten and set it out in grids.

“I set about the integration of children with special needs into the kindergarten.

“We also investigated the nearby drain and, with the cooperation of the farmers, would visit the sources.

“I was well supported by the parent committee and would always tell them what we were doing.”

Among the youngest “old scholars” at the reunion was 2019 graduate Chase Rowe.

Chase said he made friends there and liked playing on the tyre swing.

Current director Donna Barber acted as the emcee for the formal speeches and invited Ms Day and Ms Miels and past directors Judy Will, Margie Doyle, Charmaine Koch, Hilde Kannegieter and Nikki Kirkland to cut the birthday cake.

Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll commended the kindergarten for the manner in which it had educated the youth of Millicent over a period of half a century.

The current kindergarten students performed a Welcome to Country greeting.

Among the well-wishers were Judy Abbott and Sue Altschwager who are the daughters of the late Norm Mitchell who built the brick structure on North Terrace.

Foundation parent committee member Dawn Atkinson recalled the fundraising efforts to get the kindergarten erected.

“We raised the money by catering for many weddings and 21st birthday parties,” Ms Atkinson said.

“By the time the kindy was open, it was free of debt.”

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