A BRIEF HISTORY OF COORPAROO STATE SCHOOL
The first white settlers came to live in Brisbane in 1824 when Brisbane was a convict settlement. Free settlers arrived later. In the year 1856 the first land was sold to white settlers at Coorparoo. In those days it was called Bulimba. Coorparoo State School was built in 1876, about twenty years after the first white settlers came to the district.
By this time there was a need for a school. Some children had to walk 10 miles to the nearest school at Kangaroo Point. Other children went to Bulimba State School. In those days there were no buses, trams or trains. Coorparoo was mainly bush with small farms and dairies.
A settler called Samuel Stevens, who owned a lot of land, decided to give two acres of his property as a site for a school. The school was built and opened on 31 January 1876. By the end of the year it had 101 pupils.
The first school was small. It had only one room and two verandahs. The posts were made of pit-sawn hardwood. The doors and window sashes were made of cedar, while the roof was of shingles. The school grounds were covered with wattle trees and some tall gums.
State schools as a rule adopt the name of the district in which they are established, but Coorparoo is an exception because the school gave its name to the suburb that grew up around it.
The name was bestowed in the first place by the school’s headmaster, Mr J. C Towell. Mr Towell had hoped to name the school after Samuel Stevens who kindly donated the land on which the school was built. Mr Stevens modestly refused the honour, so Mr Towell adopted the name already given to the area by the Aborigines.
There were plenty of salt-marsh creeks and swamps back then and the Aborigines called it Cooraparoo meaning “place of the mosquito”. Mr Towell simplified Cooraparoo to Coorparoo, and the school and the eventual suburb around it had its permanent name.
Among the school’s first pupils was the father of the Queensland Premier, Mr Nicklin. He was George Nicklin who enrolled with his sister Alice.
As more and more families with young children settled in Coorparoo, more children came to the school. Very soon the original slab hut building was too small. It was decided to build a larger one. The middle section of the rear brick building was opened in 1928. In that year the swimming pool was also opened. Coorparoo was one of the first State schools to acquire a swimming pool. It was installed in 1928 for £1,000. A filtration plant was added in 1964.
As the school’s population continued to grow, the children needed more playing areas so in 1929 the Education Department bought a near-by house from Mr Colin Wolff. The house was sold and taken away, leaving the grounds free and open for playing. On completion of the sale, Mr Wolff donated £50, another £50 from his wife and a further £50 from his children, as a mark of appreciation of the Committee’s splendid work in the interests of the present and future pupils of the school. This part of the school was named Wolff Park in his memory. In today’s money, his generous donation would be work in the vicinity of $500,000.
The school was growing so quickly that more brick buildings were needed. It was decided in 1933 to demolish the old wooden buildings (including the original school). Many past pupils were sad to see the first school pulled down. They decorated the old classroom with black and gold streamers and held a reunion dance to say good-bye to their old school.
After the two brick buildings were competed, the school continued to attract more pupils. A wooden building was constructed at Wolff Park in 1956. The school’s peak enrolment year was 1958, when the school numbered 1600 pupils. The school was separated into two, when the Infants moved two doors down Old Cleveland Road to a separate Infants School in 1962. Four senior campus classrooms were converted in 1973 to a school Library.
The first computers for the school were purchased in 1986. In 1987 the Infants School became part of the Senior School again, as the Junior Campus. A Tuckshop was opened in 1987, and as Australians became more aware of the need to protect themselves from the hot sun, a large shelter shed was constructed in 1989. Mr Matthew Heard was appointed Principal in 1990, and he began to beautify the grounds by planting trees and gardens. The Adventure playground at Wolff Park was constructed in 1993 and in 1994 solar heating was installed at the Swimming Pool. 1994 also saw in the establishment of the Senior Campus Art Gallery, which displays professionally framed examples of students’ artworks.
In 1998 Coorparoo State School was chosen as a Leading School. A School Council was elected in October and the school received funding from the Connect Ed Program. This allowed two computers in the Library to be connected to the Internet.
The 1999 saw substantial renovations carried out at the school. A new Tuckshop was completed and a Sub-Committee of the P&C was formed to operate both the Tuckshop and Uniform Shop under one roof. With the emphasis on providing healthy choices, the Tuckshop became a member of the Australian Nutrition Foundation.
The renovations also featured a new Administration centre, including Reception, Staff Room, offices for the Principal and Deputy Principal, together with a First Aid Room and an RT Room. This renovation, valued at $600,000, also included an upgrade of the Library, the installation of a Computer Laboratory, and the networking of the Laboratory and classroom computers to the Internet.
The year 2000 saw the beginning of the Development Master Plan for Coorparoo State School, announced by the Minister of Education at a cost of $4.5 million. In August 2000 a Parent/Teacher forum was formed which developed an agreed vision for the school’s future: “a fully integrated, networked learning community with distinctiveness in music, sport, information/communication technology and languages other than English.”
In 2001 Coorparoo State School celebrated its 125th Anniversary with a School Reunion to which past students flocked in their hundreds. Ex-students representing almost every decade of the twentieth century participated in the celebrations. In 2002, the school received a grant to establish a Museum to preserve the enormous archive that had been collected since its beginnings in 1876. The Museum was officially opened by Mrs Shiela Postle, a past teacher from Coorparoo State School.
On 19 October 2003, the then Minister for Education, Ms Anna Bligh, officially opened the new 25m Swimming Pool Complex, together with the new Music Block. The Pool complex includes a viewing stand amenities block and is gas-heated to 26o for year-round use. The new Music Block is the largest and most up-to-date facility of its kind in a Queensland State Primary school.
Once again the Junior School had moved, this time to be part of the Senior Campus at 327 Old Cleveland Road. A state-of-the-art two-story Classroom Block named “Kijini Campus” was ready for Years 1 and 2 classes in July 2004 and was officially opened by the then Minister for Education, Ms Anna Bligh, on 2 June, 2005.
This was followed by the demolition of the old Junior School campus, and the construction of new sports courts on the Carey Field side of the campus.
In 2005 Coorparoo State School was part of the state-wide trial of a “Prep Year”, and our first Prep Class was established in Kijini Campus. Our Prep Year now comprises five classes of over 125 students.
An Art Block was established in the completely renovated amenities block, situated next to the Music Block, and is used for a variety of art related activities. Senator Sue Boyce, representing the Commonwealth Minister for Education, Science and Training, officially opened this new facility on Sunday 21 October, 2007.
Since then, significant new builds have occurred, namely the AEA McCahon Hall, Wilkes Green and Kijini Oval classrooms and the refurbishment of the library precinct into a flexible and open innovation space.
Enrolments continue to grow and our community today is a wonderful mix of culture, language and ancestry.
Sharing the history of Coorparoo State School remains a priority and work is currently being undertaken to expand both the Coorparoo State School Museum collection and the access to this incredible collection into an "Avenue of History."
Our museum volunteers can be contacted via our school office.