I’m the only half-century relic who managed to totter along to this august anthropological gathering of Cadet Education Officers. I tried to rally a few more, but to no avail. I managed to contact Paul and Rosemary Kelly, who had no memories of either Bathurst or ASOPA. But they fell in love on Day One of 1957 and remain steadfastly married today – a symbol perhaps of the stamina and resilience we needed for what we were about to do.
Another colleague, Neville Hatton asked me to pass on to Dick Pearse that, as a result of an ASOPA assignment, he built two basketball courts at Tusbab. Neville was my boss at Sogeri Senior High in 1969, when it became the first national high school. Whilst I was overjoyed for Neville, this was not a happy event for I was reminded that, once married, women in the PNG Education service had little value, lacking the right equipment for promotion.
While the traits of our fellow cadets are fading from my failing memory, it is worthwhile thinking what distinguished our Class from those that were to follow. Well, we were the first at ASOPA, and certainly distinguished ourselves as being the start of something big.
We were never tempted to rest on our laurels. When I look around the room tonight I see that we all extended ourselves. The room is dripping with degrees and qualifications. We had huge levels of inner resource – there was no other.
This raises the question: if we had not gone down our distinct paths after PNG, if we had remained educators, and if we had been let loose en masse on the Australian education system, what might we have achieved? The mind boggles. But that would be another story.