Article written by Jackson Vernon for ABC News
Former prime minister Julia Gillard will be part of the upcoming bicentenary celebrations for Australia’s oldest continually running school.
In February, Newcastle East Primary School will mark 200 years since it was opened in 1816.
Back then 16 students made up the first class, including a mix of children from convict and free-settler parents.
Principal John Beach has been heading the bicentenary preparations and said it was an important milestone for the nation.
“Very significant for the history of education in Australia because our school has roots going back to the early days of the settlement in Australia’s second oldest city,” he said.
“The history of the school is very fertile, reflects the history of the Hunter and the changing nature of industry and employment in the Hunter as well.
“Many of our children had seafaring parents, so quite a few of our parents and students achieved fame and fortune at sea.”
One of those is New South Wales senator Arthur Sinodinos, whose father worked as a seaman.
The cabinet secretary reflected on his time at the school as an important stepping stone on his path to Canberra.
“Having been brought up only speaking Greek at home, I only really started speaking English when I went to school,” Senator Sinodinos said.
“So that was my first experience of learning English.