The story of the reunion of the ASOPA Cadet Education Officer Class of 1967-68. Maroochydore 17–19 October 2008
Forty years after they graduated from the ASOPA CEO course for secondary teachers, the majority of that intake celebrated a memorable reunion at Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The impetus for the reunion was the disappointing attendance from this group at the general CEO’s reunion in Brisbane in October 2007.
After a mammoth effort extending over a six-month period, all but six of the group were subsequently found through good old fashioned networking, stored memories of where particular students had come from or last been heard of, contacts with ageing parents, searches of electoral rolls and the Internet and sheer chance.
Sadly, three (Bruce Owner, Gary Poppleton and Ross Westcott) were found to have died some years ago. All but four of the remaining 34 attended the reunion, which most claimed to be one of their best weekends ever as old friendships and memories were rediscovered and renewed. All up, including spouses, partners, a beloved former lecturer (Maurie Saxby) and a few CEO’s from other years, over 50 people attended the reunion.
Ahead of the reunion, all 34 contributed to an electronic publication in which they recalled their favourite memories of ASOPA, their time in PNG and what they have been doing since. Ex ASOPA staff (Maurie Saxby and June Whittaker) and friends, and family of the three deceased classmates, also contributed to a riveting collective history and show of affection for both ASOPA and PNG.
The organised activities included: a dinner at one of Maroochydore’s favourite restaurants (part owned by a son of the 67-68 group); a boat cruise on the Maroochy River; the main reunion dinner at a local hotel; and a barbecue brunch by the beach on the last morning.
Five of the class volunteered to take a digital photographic record, including photos of each of the Maths/Science and General Studies classes in exactly the same positions as in the official class photos 40 years ago. Each person attending the reunion (and the four who couldn’t make it) subsequently received a CD containing over 700 photos of the event.
Forty years is half a lifetime. With few exceptions, most of the class had not seen each other in all those years. Predictably, therefore, the reunion was characterised by loud greetings of recognition (or, in some cases, bemused non-recognition) and raucous and uninhibited behaviour not normally associated with late 50s to mid 70 year olds. The re-establishment of long lost friendships has been reinforced by an Internet and phone network through which these CEO veterans have been communicating regularly with each other since mid 2008.
The following table is a list of all who were ‘found’ plus several others who attended the reunion. Readers wishing to contact anyone on the list can do so by emailing David Weeden at [email protected]
Jeff Alexander [Blue Mountains] Kerevat, Badihagwa & Iarowari High Schools, Bomana Police Training College & Correspondence School, Education H/Q Port Moresby
Jo Argiro [Melbourne] Cameron High School, Alotau
Peter Baartz [Sydney] Utu & Kokopo High Schools
Peter Best [Canberra] Hutjena High School
Peter Blackburn [Hobart] Alotau High School, Police Training College, Bomana, Igam Barracks, Lae
Russell Connors [Melbourne] Kerowagi High School
Peter Fanning [Jakarta] Malabunga High School, RPNGC Port Moresby
John Frize [Newcastle] Port Moresby, Iarowari, Rabaul & Badihagwa High Schools
David Green [Brisbane] Brandi & Marprik High Schools, Port Moresby
Grant Hamilton [Sydney] Bugandi High School, Private Enterprise, Lae
Greg Holden [Adelaide] Kerowagi & Kimbe High Schools
Bill Jollie [NSW Central Coast] Mendi High School, Goroka & Rabaul
Glynn Kelly [Brisbane] Buin High School
Mike Logan [Blue Mountains] Brandi High School, Wewak
Col Madden [Canberra] Manus, Kerevat & Kokopo High Schools; Department of Education, Rabaul
Margaret Martin [Goulburn] Kerowagi High School
James McBrien [Sunshine Coast] Daru & Badihagwa High Schools
Ian Morton [Melbourne] Hutjena & Kerema High Schools
Bruce Owner [Deceased] Bugandi High School, Siassi Islands, Port Moresby
Geoff Pardew [Kuranda] Kerema & Daru High Schools
Lorraine Parker [Sydney] Daru & Mendi High Schools; Henganofi
Jacqui Parry [Sunshine Coast] Cameron High School, Alotau; Private Enterprise, Rabaul & Lae
Barry Peek [Adelaide] Mt Hagen High School
Garry Poppleton [Deceased] Buin High School
Despena Rizoglou [Greece] Kila Kila High School
Janice Robinson (Frape) [Blue Mountains] Private enterprise, show society and civil defence, Lae; Port Moresby
Alan Rowe [Melbourne] Utu, Medina & Bugandi High Schools
Ron Ruitenschild [Gold Coast] Manus High School
Ian Schumacher [Sunshine Coast] Kila Kila High School
Margaret Scowen (Jollie) [NSW Central Coast] Mendi, Goroka & Kokopo High Schools
Ivan Searston [Herberton] Kerowagi High School
Sister Gabriel (now Sister Margaret Tisch) [Sydney] St Mary’s Girls High School, Bougainville
Simon van der Valk [Gold Coast] Kar Kar, Aitape, Tusbab, Daru & Manus High Schools
Dianne Walton [Gulgong] Medina & Tusbab High Schools
David Weeden [Canberra] Kila Kila High School; Education H/Q, Konedobu
Doug Werrin [Crookwell & Sydney] Bugandi High School
Ross Westcott [Deceased] Bugandi High School, DASF Port Moresby
Jan Milton (68-69) [Canberra] Kila Kila High School
Ros Sharp (61-62) [Southern Queensland] Primary T Schools: Green River, Kokopo, Pomio & Goroka
Maurie Saxby [Sydney] ASOPA staff member and frequent PNG visitor
June Whittaker [Tumbarumba] Long time ASOPA staff member and frequent PNG visitor