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Family link makes centenary special

ALISA YONG
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2014
centenary
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

THREE GENERATIONS OF HISTORY: From left, former Kelburn Normal School pupils Anne Knowles, her great-nephew Jacob Klap, niece Pip Klap, and great-niece Marcella Klap.

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A weekly class trip to sing for the radio is one of many happy memories 85-year-old Anne Knowles recalls from her days as a Kelburn Normal School pupil.

Knowles, niece Pip Klap and Klap's children Jacob, 16, and Marcella, 14, are among the thousands of pupils to have passed through the school during its 100 years.

The school's centenary celebrations begin tonight with a cocktail evening, followed by an open day and dinner tomorrow.

Knowles, who started school in 1934, says the family connection is what makes the centenary special. "The three generations of us being there, that's what's so lovely for me, that we were the three lots going to the school."

Her late brother Jock Lomas attended the school in 1923. She particularly remembers her class taking part in a weekly radio programme.

"We also sang for the Music in Schools programme. We went to the broadcasting studio once a week and did the music for that."

She is looking forward to the chance to return to the school tomorrow.

"I'll have a prowl about and see if there's anyone else I know there."

The Wellington Teachers' Training College was also in Kowhai Rd, and as many as three student teachers at a time often observed their lessons.

Miss Conway was a favourite teacher, but one who did not tolerate any nonsense, she says.

"She was a wonderful teacher and very academic with us ... we were taught very properly and to a high level. She didn't force us into anything, we grew into things somehow. I was very lucky."

Niece Pip Klap, who attended the school from 1963 to 1968, says she is eager to catch up with old classmates. "I have good memories of those days and I'm expecting to have fun when I go to the centenary. I don't normally go to things like that, so it's unusual for me."

She enrolled children Jacob and Marcella at Kelburn Normal as she wanted them to attend a co-ed that continued through to college.

"It's a small school, so you get to know each other really well. You have that length of time where you form quite strong bonds ... it's really quite a nourishing sort of environment."

Jacob says the attitude of the teachers sets the school apart. "What I liked about it was how open the teachers were, how you could pretty much be yourself – you weren't being told to be this perfect student all the time."

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- The Dominion Post

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