Sharing Stories and Connections – Pen-pal exchange between our Alumni and Students

Early in 2020 it was decided to postpone our Annual High Tea Reunions, due to safety concerns around Covid19 for both our attendees and our students. Normally we welcome Alumni celebrating their 50 (1970), 55 (1965) and 60 (1970) year reunions, and those who are 56 years or more since graduating Tintern.
Though we were unable to come together on site this year, it was important these incredible milestones were acknowledged. We invited students from the Junior to Middle Schools to reach out and write to these Alumnae personally. Our students embraced this opportunity, sharing their own Tintern stories, favourite subjects and their experience of home learning and Lockdown.
We have already received many wonderful replies, which have been passed on to the students. In some cases, in what might prove to be a long lasting pen pal relationship.
Thank you to the students and the alumnae who took part in this community project connecting Tintern generations.
We look forward to welcoming these year groups to their postponed celebrations on Friday 12 November 2021.
We received many wonderful letters, we have shared one exchange below. Thank you to the Grade 5 boys and Libby La Nauze (Black YG 1964) for allowing us to share:

Dear Libby,

We acknowledge your presence at Tintern Grammar has given us a much better life here at Tintern today.
There has been a lot of changes at school since your attendance. We saw photos of how the school used to look like, and it is very different to this date. The entrance to the school in where the cows were has been replaced to an ELC centre with a car park. The warming, welcoming, and graceful entrance to Tintern Grammar has been multiplied into many more entrances that lead into the flawless school we are in today. Where the old swimming pool used to be is now added as the bottom tennis court. Where the pine forest used to be is an indoor gym and aquatics centre where we have a gym, and a swimming pool, and to its bottom is the upper tennis court where we go for energy plus (physical activities at the start of the day). We have also added senior and middle school buildings near the oval (where the cows were), and renovated the Southwood centre, which was recently added to a part of Tintern Grammar to form one school, boys and girls, from Prep to Year 12.
And we have currently primarily settled down in Ringwood East.
Now we have a lot of subjects like French, Performing arts, P.E. (Physical education) and house sports. We even have VCE and IB for university form acceptances, and a ton of other stuff including energy plus.
Today, what we love at Tintern Grammar is especially the House Sports, energy plus, and P.E (or maybe just me 😊).
Thank you for reading this letter,Warm Regards, Year 5 Boys.

Dear Year 5 Boys,

Thank you very much for interesting letter telling me of the many and wonderful changes to the Tintern School that you attend today, compared to my years at Tintern from 1957 – 1965.   To you this will sound a very long time ago, but looking back now the years do go by very quickly now, once you look back 55 years on from leaving Tintern you will realise that the years actually do speed by.

I commenced at Tintern Junior School in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, in Grade 5, which is the year you are just about to complete. Our school building was next to the two-storied Victorian House where Emma B. Cook first started the school, teaching her own children and taking in others and where my mother attended the Senior School for three years in the 1920’s.

When I started in 1957 the Senior School had already been relocated to Ringwood East and a new Junior School built so our Junior School was very small.  I remember it as being a very friendly school and enjoying it so much after my previous much larger primary school. We worked hard in the mornings on schoolwork and in the afternoon focused more on sports and art. A favourite pastime was digging and tending the small garden beds we were allowed to create around a border in front of the Junior School. We were divided into small groups and managed our own gardens being able to choose our own plants from the plant nursery in  Glenferrie Road opposite the school.

The move in Year 7, which we called Form 1, to the Senior School, was a big step with a long train trip to Ringwood East and some of us a bus trip as well. Trains were not very frequent and if we had stayed back for an after-school activity we had to make a mad dash to the train station so as not to miss the train.  We always made our own way to and from school and it would be very rare for a parent to drop off or pick us up at the school on weekdays, as parents really only came to the school for important weekend events.

We loved the space, fresh air, the native plants, bird and insect life.  The pine forest was our favourite place to eat our lunch sitting in the pine needles with the fresh smell of the pine trees.

The Junior School Hall was used by the senior school as well, for our gym, for exams, assemblies concerts and drama and being a newly built school the facilities were very good for the time.

In my final year at Tintern (1965) the then Federal Government Minister for Science, opened our new Science block, which was a real innovation at the time, but you would be amazed comparing that to your wonderful Spiegel Science Centre opened 54 years later. The music school and concert hall were all built after I left school in 1965 and also the wonderful centre for creative arts and opportunities for drama and musical theatre. Educational and students’ needs and opportunities have changed far and away beyond anything we could have imagined in our time, or indeed in the years my mother attended Tintern. However the vision for Tintern set by Emma B. Cook when she established the school to educate her own children and others, has been carried on and expanded by successive principals, until when we visit for our reunions, we appreciate seeing the school set in such beautiful surroundings with extraordinary facilities for all years and now coeducational for many years. 

I sang in the choir and the madrigal group throughout my senior school years and at the last reunion I attended, I loved listening to your Junior School Choir and seeing your enjoyment singing the variety of songs. 

This has been extremely difficult and challenging year for you, your families, your friends and teachers, as it has been for all of us, but I know you will have been well supported by your teachers at Tintern throughout.

Thank you for acknowledging our part in the continuum of the life of the school. 

I wish every one of you a very happy summer holiday and come back ready and looking forward to your Year 6 and the very best for your school days and your future.

Kind regards,
Libby La Nauze (née Black)
7 December 2020




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