Fourth generation marks 100 years at Dennington's St Johns school

Back to basics: Dennington grandmother Julie Hoare and daughter Jo Sachse were thrilled to walk fourth generation Riley Sachse in to St John's for his first day of school on Thursday. Picture: Christine Ansorge
Back to basics: Dennington grandmother Julie Hoare and daughter Jo Sachse were thrilled to walk fourth generation Riley Sachse in to St John's for his first day of school on Thursday. Picture: Christine Ansorge

The first day of school can be daunting for a five-year-old but for foundation student Riley Sachse, Thursday was just another day across the paddock.

The Dennington schoolboy became the fourth generation in his family to hang his bag on a hook at St John’s Primary School this week.

Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, the Lego-loving school-starter follows his mother, grandmother and great grand-mother to the former Raglan Parade learning house.

Opened in 2011, the current premises on Russell Street in Dennington was in-part thanks to Riley’s grandparents Julie and Graham Hoare, who sold 12 acres of farming land to the school in 2007.

“It’s a really special day for our family,” said grandmother Julie Hoare. “We’ve watched this school develop over the years, we’ve watched it all from our garden just over there and today our fourth generation started.”

Mrs Hoare still resides in the same street in Dennington as many of her previous generations.

Her family tree is one that stems from the region’s first settlers.

“We’ve been here for well over 100 years,” Mrs Hoare said. “The Skehans would have been some of the first few settlers in Dennington.”

Mrs Hoare said her mother, Julie Surkitt, began the family tradition of attending Dennington’s St John’s when she donned her first school uniform in 1918.

“Mum went to the school when it was held at the back of the church on Raglan Parade,” Mrs Hoare said. “That was before the first school building was built in 1920.”

Mrs Hoare began her own schooling at St John’s in 1955, together with her two siblings.

“Back then it was just two rooms, the big room and the little room,” she said. “And it was run by the Mercy nuns.”

Mrs Hoare’s daughter Jo Sachse, Riley’s mother, sat at her own St John’s school desk for the first time in 1982.

Since then the school has become a second home for the family.

Mrs Hoare remains very active in the school community, volunteering as classroom helper and regularly baking cakes for the school staff room.

“I like to bake cakes when the teachers have a birthday,” she said. “It’s a very special school to our family.”

“Mum and Dad would have been so proud to see this school now, it’s part of our family history."

When Riley Sachse joins his 210 school-mates to the exits each afternoon he’ll be fulfilling his grandfather’s special wish, Mrs Hoare said.  

“Graham can’t wait to pick him up from school each day,” she said.

“He’ll be there either on his motorbike or tractor at the back gate.”

Proud principal: Jo Sachse, Riley Sachse, 5, Julie Hoare and principal Kathy Dalton are marking four generations at Dennington's St John's Primary School. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Proud principal: Jo Sachse, Riley Sachse, 5, Julie Hoare and principal Kathy Dalton are marking four generations at Dennington's St John's Primary School. Picture: Christine Ansorge

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