The 1960s: Real Progress.

The 1960’s were one of the brightest decades in the history of the school. The keynote was struck with the construction of the first brick and tile dormitory block in 1960.  The building provided accommodation in two wings for 48 boys. The building was officially opened by the Governor, Sir Charles Gairdner.  Principal Mr Jim West made clear his gratitude as the school could now accommodate 100 students. Another brick dormitory block was completed by the end of 1967.

Around this time the piggery and dairy sections also underwent major development. Mr Willis and the boys of 1960 modified the old piggery farrowing houses with designs from Muresk.  When John Cranfield took over as poultry instructor in 1962 a new intensive complex was completed. The brooder house was a favourite spot for late night feasts.  Many a steak lifted from “Spinner” McEwin butcher’s shop seems to have been ruined over the charcoal heater. Plans were drawn up for new playing fields on the existing orchard. The Cooraminning Road entrance was then built in 1962-63.

An impressive array of new equipment continued to arrive, including a new 14-disc plough in 1961,  a Sunbeam rotary sheep shower in 1964, a five-ton Austin truck for fire fighting in 1967, a two-ton Bedford in 1968, and a Toyota Landcruiser in 1969.  Between 1964 and 1968 at least four new tractors were also donated.

Many of the farm improvements at the time arose from the advisory committee’s recommendations and the members were warmly praised by distinguished visitors. Stock was of an extremely high standard with the beef herd almost 100% pure Angus.

During the 1960’s the agricultural wing was fortunate to have two excellent men as principals.  Mr Jim West who arrived in 1960 proved a fine administrator and a man of very high standards who was also unafraid to tackle Education Department bureaucrats.  Jim was followed in 1964 by Gordon Appleton, who maintained and developed the high reputation enjoyed by the school with his dignity, experience and wisdom. The man whose presence and contributions were legendary however in the 1960’s was Monty Buttfield.  Arriving as a master in 1957, he became Deputy Principal in 1967.  During his 12 years at Narrogin, Monty earned huge respect from the boys as a very fair but strict disciplinarian. Those who were at the school in the 1960’s remember Monty as a dynamo who boosted even the most minor events.

The kitchen staff at this time had some very colourful characters, most notably Johnny Peirucci, he and the cook Mick Gavrilovic very much identified with the lives of the students at that time who remember the sheer abundance of food as quite remarkable. Jean Harris came to the school in 1968 as alternate cook and brought marvellous recipes from her days at the Raffles Hotel.

Throughout the 1960s sporting activities were an integral part of school life under Monty Buttfield.  The Saturday morning football between the town wing remained strong as was the Association Hockey played in the afternoon.  From 1967, however, the most popular activity was the exchange visits with the girls from Kobeelya School in Katanning.


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