Life begins at 40 – Happy Birthday Waverley Foothills

Waverley Foothills Pre-School celebrations

Birthdays are big, and 40th birthdays are even bigger.

Waverley Foothills Pre-School recently celebrated the four decades since it opened its doors and welcomed its first class of eager youngsters back in 1982 with a community get together that reunited students, parents and teachers.

Laura Cain, President of the Parents Advisory Group at Waverley Foothills, said the day had been an outstanding success, despite the recent polar weather that had swept across Melbourne.

“It was cold, but it didn’t rain,” she said. “Which was a relief because we’d planned to hold most of it outside. And all of our 100 sausages were eaten - so I’d say we had 80 to 100 (attendees).”

The significance of the milestone meant there was plenty to celebrate on the day.

Laura said the pre-school had always been blessed with outstanding educators and the big event also honoured teacher Elizabeth Cowling for her 22 years of service to the pre-school.

Uncle Mick Edwards, from the Bunurong Land Council, spoke to the gathering as part of a smoking ceremony and welcome, while the pre-school had also commissioned artwork for the kindergarten doors and several wooden stools, courtesy of Wurundjeri artist Chloe Jones from Dungala Creations. Chloe will also be conducting a workshop for the Waverley Foothills children to help them understand the meaning behind her art work.

A letter from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews congratulated the pre-school on its 40 years of service to the community and highlighted the important role pre-school plays in a child’s education.

“Over those years, you’ve supported thousands of young Victorians to build the foundation they need to learn and succeed,” he wrote. “You’ve helped raise doctors, nurses, engineers and builders – you’ve made our community a stronger and fairer place.”

Laura said the sense of local community in the area, and the fact that primary and secondary schools weren’t too far away from the pre-school, had meant that there’d always been a strong connection between the families that attended the pre-school. Many are now second-generation Waverley Foothills families.

“My husband Gary was one of the original students back in 1982 and all three of our children have been through there,” she said. “There were 60 enrolments back then, at $25 a term. Can you believe that?”

Reflecting on the pre-school’s history was a strong theme for the day. It was a day for celebrating fond memories.

In planning for the birthday celebrations, Laura said she’d found one of Gary’s kinder photos from 1982.  Despite a few blushes, Laura had it enlarged to help with the decorations for the event.

In the photo, Gary could be seen playing with a puzzle and, as soon as she laid eyes on the photo, Elizabeth Cowling said: “I think we’ve still got that somewhere.” After a few minutes rummaging around in the cupboard, Gary was reunited with the puzzle after 40 years.

Waverley Foothills Pre-school is located in Gladeswood Reserve, Gladeswood Drive, Mulgrave.