Yaapeet Primary School was overflowing as past and present students along with former and current teachers flocked to the school on Saturday for the Centenary celebrations.

The official proceedings started with the current students leading the singing of the national anthem, acknowledgement of country and the old school oath.

Yaapeet Primary School President Jon Fuller read out a list of apologies before providing a speech stating what is important for the Yaapeet school and the wider community.

“We’ve been lucky over the past years with teachers and business managers who have come through the school. Mrs White has been a driving force for the centenary celebrations,” Mr Fuller said.

Mark Klinkermann made a speech after being presented with a special memento after travelling the biggest distance to take part in the celebrations.
Mark Klinkermann made a speech after being presented with a special memento after travelling the biggest distance to take part in the celebrations.

“Thanks to the wider community for helping where they could including providing the morning and afternoon teas.

“I hope you enjoy meeting up with old friends and reliving old memories,” he said.

Among those present included former teacher Mark Klinkermann who travelled from the United States which gained him a special memento for travelling the biggest distance for the event, oldest past student Jackie Abbott, Yarriambiack Mayor Graeme Massey and many other people who at some point called Yaapeet home.

Mark Klinkermann made an emotional speech about his time at Yaapeet.

“When I read an email about the centenary, I was happy to recognise a lot of the names that were helping put this event on. There’s something about Yaapeet that makes the town so special,” Mr Klinkermann said.

“When I got here in 1980, I didn’t know what I was getting in to. My first trip here I ended up getting my car bogged in some sand but the community got me out of it.

“I came back a couple of months later and wasn’t sure what impression I gave as he wasn’t sure where the school was. He thought perhaps there was a welcoming committee at the residence, which there was. There were plenty of mice.

“Some families asked me out to dinner soon after I arrived with some great meals and conversations. People asked me whether I could play Australian Rules Football, which I couldn’t. So they changed their tactic and asked whether I was willing to play.

“I hesitated and that was it, I had the purple and gold on.

“I enjoyed getting to know the townspeople and how everyone worked together.

“Afterwards I figured out that Yaapeet was ahead of its time with GPS, twitter, Apple watch, Facebook and the web, they were all right here years before just walking down the street. I don’t miss that, but I miss the friendships that I made while I was here.

“I learned what Yaapeet was all about and it was a great place to be a teacher but a better place to be a student of the community. And I was glad to be a part of it.”

Oldest former student Jackie Abbott said, “It’s good to see old friends again. When I walked in the back gate in 1935, things were pretty tough. We weathered the storm and we played good sport.”

“I pulled on a pair of footy boots, never played in a premiership, but I enjoyed playing with the boys,” Mr Abbott said.

Yaapeet Primary School Principal, Sheryl Herben said, “It’s good to be here. We never thought ten years ago that we would still be here to celebrate our centenary. It’s very special to be here today.”

“Well done to all of you who have become part of this and made this day what it should be,” Mrs Herben said.

“We may be small but we have so much to offer. Every one of our students is a VIP, a Very Important Person. Our school is trying to make them feel comfortable, confident and have a real belief that they can be the best that they can be.

“Claire White has risen to the rank of General in the Yaapeet volunteer brigade. Claire has been amazing and I’m glad to have her in my corner.”

The launch of the updated Yaapeet School book “Educating More Generations” was provided by Claire White.

Both Claire and Sheryl were presented with bunches of purple and yellow flowers for their contributions towards the centenary.

Peter Gosling sang two songs “Mallee Boy” and “Give me a home among the gum trees” with the current students to round out the official ceremony.

A roll call over the decades and photos were then taken to commemorate the celebrations.

Youngest current student Harry Fisher said ahead of the event the best thing he liked about Yaapeet Primary School was being able to play. He also said that Mrs Herben is a really good teacher.