Principal | Gippsland Grammar



Monday was Gippsland Grammar’s Commemoration Day, the day we celebrate the August 1970 decision of the councils of the Church of England Girls’ School and Gippsland Grammar Boys’ School to amalgamate.


Traditionally recognised as the School’s birthday, the service in Garnsey Hall was attended by students from all three campuses, as well as special guests including Board, Foundation, Old Scholars and parent representatives. The theme of this year’s service was recognising the role of volunteers, with particular mention of a very special book, as well as a ‘parent and friends’ group celebrating 50 years of active fundraising.  

Below is an excerpt from my address:


How to raise funds for a new School with no library?


I love hearing stories about people who, when there is a problem to solve, can develop a plan and action it with great success to achieve their goals. In this case, it was a group of parents who took on the task of raising money for a new School library. They discussed a range of solutions, deciding that there was a gap in the market for a cookbook that was unique to Gippsland and could tell the history of the region through its homesteads. They developed a plan, identified the strengths of those within the team and allocated tasks. Where there was a gap in their skills, they recruited and found others who could bring new strength and skill to their team.


They investigated how to produce the book; looked at other similar publications and sought out ideas. They formed a team that included artists, writers, researchers, proofreaders and cooks, all of whom happened to be parents within our School. They engaged printers, sought discount prices on paper and finally invented a title, ‘Is emu on the menu? Historical homesteads and recipes of Gippsland’.


The book was launched at the Sale Arts Centre in November 1965 and was well received by the media. It was sold in shops throughout Gippsland and Melbourne and was even reviewed by the BBC in London. It was a huge success, selling out and making a profit of $7,645, assuring the library’s construction. In fact, the book was so popular that another 5000 copies were printed. By 1970, it had made another $4500, before selling out again in 1971. Since then, there have been three reprints, all of which have sold out, raising a great amount of money for the School.


In 2007 a sequel was produced, ‘Is emu off the menu?’ Another runaway success, we are delighted to gift a copy to all School families to celebrate Commemoration Day 2018.


The Emu committees collectively have left a legacy of creativity and collaboration that will forever be an important part of our history.


We recognise the original members of the ‘Emu on the Menu’ Committee who are here today: Mrs Nan Sargood, Mrs Jo Kent, Mrs Val McLachlan and Mrs Jean Ashton, as well as members of the 2007 emu committee in the audience: Mrs Liz Davis, Ms Elizabeth Balderstone and Ms Jo Cockwill.


Enduring friendships, enduring commitment


In the 1960’s, Jean Ashton, Jill McKinnon, Ailsa Dawkins, Jo Kent, Jo Chomley, Gwen Dumaresq, Audrey Davis and Nan Sargood were parents of the School who lived too far away to attend regular Parents and Friends meetings. They formed their own group in 1968, the name of which was an acronym of their Christian names – the JJAJJGANs.


Since joined by new members Sally Baird, Val Morrison and Val MacLachlan, the JJAJJGANs have raised funds for the School for a continuous period of fifty years. From 1968 to current day, the group has donated books for the library, equipment for various departments, items for the boarding house and prizes for academic achievement, awarded annually at Celebration Night. The JJAJJGAN Lecture Theatre at Garnsey Campus is named in honour of this remarkable group and we welcome Mrs Nan Sargood, Mrs Jean Ashton, Mrs Jo Kent, Mrs Val MacLachlan and Mrs Sally Baird here today.


I invite our School community to stand and thank all these wonderful volunteers for their service.