Up until 1956 the location of Valkstone was a market garden operated by a Mr. Vandervalk and his wife, the former Miss Stone. The school name of 'Valkstone' was formed from the combination of Vandervalk and Stone. In keeping with Mr. Vandervalk's Dutch background, the school adopted the falcon as its crest. 'Valk' in Dutch means 'falcon'.
The first principal of the school was Mr. Walter Trudinger. On the 7th of February 1957 the school welcomed its 317 pupils, 116 of whom came from Bentleigh East Primary School. So with a staff of 10 teachers, the children marched into their classrooms ready to begin Valkstone's school life. Of course, the school could not operate without the wonderful contribution of the parents. A School Committee was formed and a Mothers Club began operation.
The school grounds needed much attention in the early years so working bees (comprising men only) were a common weekend sight. Garden beds were commenced and new trees planted. A huge tree planting operation took place involving all the school's children.
To raise much-needed funds a Fair was held, organised by the menfolk and a total of 315 pounds was raised.
In February, 1957 a young girl from the local area enrolled at Valkstone and took her place amongst the other 32 children in Grade 1C under the direction of Mrs. Cowling. Over the next forty years this young girl kept returning to Valkstone in a number of different capacities. In 1957 she was Marilyn Tunne, Grade 1 pupil and today she is Marilyn Koolstra, Principal of the school.
In 1958 the school choir began and one of its first public appearances was at the MCG in front of the Queen Mother. In 1958 great progress was visible in the yards, with a new bike shed, a school fence and asphalt laid at the front of the school. Unfortunately, in July 1958 Mr. Trudinger suddenly died. In October 1958, the then Minister for Education officially opened the school. He unveiled a memorial plaque to Mr. Trudinger which can be found at the front of the school. Mr. McCubbin became Head Teacher.
Valkstone, Joy, Maree and Juliana Street were being graded and tarred. Much of the soil from these roads was used in the construction of the oval. Two of these streets were named after Mr Vandervalk's daughter, Joy Maree and Juliana Street was named after Queen Juliana of Holland.
The first official folk dancing display was seen at this time and many more were to follow over the next 30 years. At the end of the decade the school was firmly established, even winning an award for its gardens.
The new decade began with Valkstone's enrolment at 386. The Head Teacher at the time was Mr. Courtier, who had a staff of 12 teachers. New rooms were needed and an elaborate sound system was installed.
Again parents were very active. The school oval needed a great deal of work. A call went out for all men to bring their rotary mowers to school to cut the grass and twenty responded. The school's cricket pitch was put down in 1961. The school expanded to 400 pupils and established a House System named after 4 famous Australian explorers : Cook, Tasman, Dampier and Hartog. Throughout the 1960's Valkstone steadily became a power in the local sports competitions. This was especially evident in swimming.
In 1966, while a teacher at Valkstone, George Pappas scripted and produced a series of 12 programs for the ABC about teaching English in schools. One of the shows was filmed here at Valkstone.
During the 1960's Education Week 'Open Days' became a popular highlight of the school year. Again folk dancing and marching made regular appearances as did displays of sewing and toy making. Slide demonstrations were a huge hit and the Mothers Club took advantage of these sessions for fund raising. In 1966 the school Library was completed and officially opened.
A television set was purchased for the new Library, with contributions from the Department, the Mothers Club and the teachers. The Department contributed $100, the Mothers Club $120 and the teachers $7.50.
It was in the 1960’s that the school began to plan for an Art/Craft room to be added. By 1969 with designs for the room drawn up thoughts turned to equipping the room. As the Government would provide $100 the Principal suggested that the children attempt to match this sum to aid in the purchase of art & craft supplies. Several teachers scoffed at the notion of the children raising this money by themselves. One teacher even suggested that if they did, he would eat his socks. The children triumphed raising a total of $252 forcing the teacher to keep his word by making a meal of his socks. Thanks to the children’s efforts the new room was opened the following year fully stocked with materials to encourage creativity in art & craft.
By the 1970’s Valkstone Primary School was becoming well known throughout the wider community. In 1972 the Sun newspaper carried a story with a photograph reporting on the children’s involvement in making a short environmental movie under the direction of Mr. Wallis. In 1974 the grade 5 children of Mrs. J. Waters decided to secede from the rest of Australia by setting up their own country of Bentalok as part of their Social Studies work. The school began to publish its own magazine. “The Falcon” highlighted the children’s talent. Its selling price was 5 cents. During this decade the local area underwent great changes. Numbers in all local schools began to decline. Valkstone’s enrolment was down to 250 by the end of the 1970’s.
The rooms at V.P.S. took on a new look as the old staff room became the new office and a classroom was converted to the staff room. Teaching staff underwent many changes. Several new teachers were to have a great impact on the lives of many students. The new Principal, John Bone, established a weekly newsletter and the School Councils replaced the outmoded School Committees system. The technological age had begun heralding the introduction of computers to the school.
The 1980’s marked great changes to the Victorian Education system with new initiatives and directions that were introduced into the curriculum. Parents were called upon to make vital decisions affecting the school. Valkstone’s survival became a real
concern. In 1985 the enrolment numbers had dropped to only 194 with just seven straight grades. The lower enrolment did not dampen enthusiasm: the football team reached the state semi finals! A bike-a-thon raised $2000 to send local identity Max Rainsford to the Commonwealth Games; Valkstone was among the first schools to introduce Life Education vans to the children in the fight against drug abuse; parents banded together to get the Safety House Scheme introduced into the area; the children were featured in the T.V. show “You Me and Education” for which the art room was converted into “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and played a small part in the filming of a Ribena Juice advertisement for which they were paid $500; with the support of parents and the Coles docket scheme the school took delivery of new computers; the production of Valksview magazine highlighted the children’s talent in both writing and art.
Bike-Ed was introduced to the children and Geoffrey Taylor, the school captain in 1988,won a 3 AW radio station competition for designing playground and won for the school $2000 worth of playground equipment for the school.
It was also a decade of celebration. In 1982 the school celebrated it’s 25th anniversary, with tree planting, whole school concerts and a Bush dance. In 1984 Victoria celebrated its 150th birthday; the school held a Heritage Day and the children were all given medals and certificates by the mayor in commemoration. In 1988 Australia celebrated its Bi-Centenary, Valkstone built an amphi-theatre to celebrate and placed a time capsule nearby.
During the 1990s the enrolment at Valkstone steadily rose. Our neighbouring school, Bentleigh East P.S., was closed and many pupils from this school enrolled at Valkstone. The increasing numbers meant the installation of portables and the construction of a new hall, canteen and classrooms. Tragically, in 1994, the building relocated from Bentleigh East PS was destroyed by fire. This caused great frustration and pain as it then took eighteen months for the new building to be completed. This facility allowed the school to enrich its programs and accommodate its growing numbers. Valkstone held its first Art Show in the new hall and the larger canteen saw more parental involvement. Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) was also moved in to this new facility.
In 1993 Principal John Bone retired after seventeen years in charge of the school. Arthur Hole took over the reins. The study of Japanese language and culture began at the school. Many wonderful celebrations were held, highlighting Japanese traditions, food, clothing and sports whilst learning hiragana.
The school was becoming aware of the importance of covering up (‘Slip, Slop, Slap’) during the hotter months and the compulsory wearing of hats, legionnaire style, and applying sunscreen was introduced through the school’s SunSmart policy
Computers were being used in increasing numbers by the children across the curriculum. Keyboard skills were taught and pupils were encouraged to write stories, reports, illustrate and decorate them using a wide variety of programs. Thanks to the incredible involvement of parents in a supermarket docket scheme, the school’s use of computers increased enormously. The library began to digitalise is processes, barcoding all of its books and displays.
Technology Design was introduced into the curriculum and many children loved the challenges that were set. During this decade the school sent teams to compete in Technology Challenge events with other local schools.
During this decade the school began to recognise the importance of studying our environment and practising sustainability. Programs were introduced to save water, plant new trees, recycle paper and care for animals.
Our involvement in the MPSSA sporting competitions saw many children achieve wonderful results individually and in team sports. Valkstone established a reputation as a school which encouraged participation and excellent sportsmanship. Responding to the community’s need for increased fitness, a 500 metre running track was installed around the oval and open spaces. To promote road safety and correct bike-riding skills, Valkstone pupils participated in the school’s Bike-Ed programs from Years 4 to 6.
Among the new construction projects was the building of the new bike shed which replaced the ‘temporary’ one …..after 38 years!
To develop and maintain extensive, grounds the school implemented a Grade Working Bee system. It brought immediate results and attendances ensured an ongoing link between parents, children and the school whilst developing pride and community involvement.
2000 to 2010
Valkstone PS entered the new millennium with a growing enrolment and many new programs and ideas. In 2001, Marilyn Koolstra took up the position of Principal when Arthur Hole left.
Local artist and parent Mike Rings painted attractive murals on the school’s external walls. To celebrate Australia’s Centenary of Federation, the school had a dress-up day and the children were actively involved in old school games and historic re-enactments.
To promote and encourage the children’s interest in drama, dance and singing, Valkstone had a Performing Arts Club and established a School Band. In 2003, the first all-school Concert was held in Kingston Arts Centre. Later, as the school grew, the Concert was switched to Monash University to accommodate the large number of parents, grandparents and friends who wanted to see the children perform. A Talent Quest was run by the Junior School Council each year to highlight the variety of talents of the pupils.
On the educational side, Valkstone children undertook the statewide AIM and NAPLAN testing. Valkstone achieved high academic results in these assessments. Students took part in the University of NSW Tests and in 2003. Student results have been high in English, Maths, finishing in the top three in the state.
Throughout the 2000s Valkstone held school fairs to raise much-needed funds to provide equipment and programs for the growing school. In 2006 over $10,000 was raised through sideshow rides, grade stalls, Devonshire teas and auctions. In 2008 the amount raised had more than doubled to $24,000 and in 2012 a staggering $43,000 was raised! Parent organised fundraising supported the installation of air-conditioning across the school, playground equipment, outdoor furniture and shade sails.
Enrolment rose significantly through the decade; 340 in 2001, 520 nine years later. Programs such as Tournament of the Minds, Peer Mediation, Young Leaders’ program, Tri-Skills gymnastics, the Life-Ed Van health program and the Maths Olympiad enabled the pupils to explore new initiatives and improve their skills and confidence.
In 2005 the camping program was extended to grades 4, 5 and 6, providing great outdoor education experiences for the children. Technology was introduced into the school in an extensive way. Laptops were used in all grades, interactive whiteboards fascinated teachers and children when first introduced. ICT lessons showed just how quickly the children could adapt to new technology, whilst the LOTE program had video conferencing sessions with children in our sister school, Takou, just outside Osaka in Japan. Parents could be linked with the school via an e-newsletter, the My School website and a mobile app.
On 7th February 2007, 380 students and 28 staff celebrated Valkstone’s 50th Anniversary with chocolate cake and blue and yellow balloons. The event was recorded in the Leader Newspaper.
Later in the term, 23rd March, a ‘Back to Valkstone’ day was held, featuring a Roll Call, extensive displays of the school’s history, student representations of local and global events during the last five decades and Devonshire teas. The afternoon was a great success with the Roll Call bringing forward students from Prep to Grade 6 who attended Valkstone in the 1950’s, including Geoff Cox (Coxy’s Big Break) much to the delight of former classmates and current fans.
Significant changes in the layout of the school took place in the first decade of the 2000s. Portables were moved, then replaced by Mod 5 buildings in 2007. A Federal Government school improvement grant was used to give Valkstone a new boundary fence, front entrance gates and electronic gates for the carpark. The entire eastern end of the school was reconfigured as the Library and Art rooms were moved and improved in 2009.
As part of the Building the Education Revolution program, a full sized basketball court was built in 2010. This building also includes a music room, LOTE classroom and kitchen. Monday whole school assemblies were moved to this spacious facility. A generous donation allowed for a public address and sound system to be installed. The rising enrolment meant that more playground equipment was needed so new exciting structures appeared in various parts of the playground. The school focused on the need to conserve water, so a bore was sunk near the school oval. Large water tanks were placed around the school and water recycling systems established, including no-flush toilets. The school established a vegie patch and a frog pond area.
Valkstone Primary School’s increasing enrolment meant changes needed to be put in place to cope with the demand for school placements. A neighbourhood boundary zone was introduced in 2011, restricting the number of children from outside the area. This was happening also in other local schools as the community was changing with younger families settling in the East Bentleigh area.
A further Mod5 classroom was added in 2011 and a further two in 2015. The school was also changing with extra curriculum activities. Children became proficient in multi-media tasks. The Year 6 presentations became a highlight of Monday assemblies with news reports, weather forecasts and Japanese vocabulary lessons. The annual concert at Robert Blackwood Hall was a highlight fo performing arts. Short films made by the children were gaining recognition (ACMI Award finalists in 2011) and the children began writing, filming and editing their work. Some of their work was shown at Tropfest in 2013. In 2016 a local cinema was booked to feature the works of the Year 6 children. Success for the children came in a number of activities outside the classroom. Valkstone teams were the champions in Swimming (2013) and Athletics (2015), as well as success in a summer and winter sports in the MPSSA competition. The school’s Chess team was crowned State champions in 2015.
Fundraising and charity work has always been at the forefront at Valkstone as the pupils looked to a variety of ways to raise money for varied organisations and specific causes. Each year, Junior School Council runs activities that raise funds for the education of Kenyan children. Several events were initiated to aid the cancer treatment for one of the Grade 6 children, Christina. Children and staff shaved their heads for their popular classmate. Sadly, Christina lost her fight in 2015.
New curriculum guidelines were introduced to improve the educational standards of
pupils across the country. AusVels was the blueprint for common achievement standards for all levels. Valkstone also introduced Educational Research Projects, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and the Resilience Program across the school. The pupils continued to work hard on subjects across the curriculum, with high results maintained in NAPLAN and ICAS testing. The children were also contributing to their own areas of interest in the community. In 2016, Dara received the Fred Hollows Humanity award, presented by the Premier.
Term 4 each year, Prep Transition prepares the incoming students for their primary schooling. All students perform in the Celebration Concert, a Valkstone community event held on the school oval in December, commemorating the year’s achievements through musical performances. Year 6s graduate the last week of the school year. A formal event, held at Valkstone, celebrates their achievements, whilst sharing hopes and aspirations. Valksview, an annual publication which began as The Falcon (sold for 2 shillings last century), highlights student learning and school activities.
In November 2016 Valkstone, was visited by the Governor of Victoria, the Honorable Linda Dessau AM. Ms Dessau came to the school following a letter written to her by School Captain, Lolly Seligmann. Lolly wanted to acknowledge the outstanding work and leadership of Principal Marilyn Koolstra. As Marilyn had been a pupil at Valkstone in its opening year, 1957, her involvement at Valkstone had stretched over six decades. Rather than write a letter to Marilyn complimenting her on her outstanding achievement, the Governor visited the school and addressed a large Monday Assembly, which also happened to be Mrs Koolstra’s birthday!
In 2016 major building works began. The eastern end of the school, including the administration area, was demolished as the $3.5 million upgrade began.
Valkstone acknowledges 60 years of achievement and excellence in education. 675 students and 65 staff watched as the new teaching and administration wing rose from the enormous concrete slab. Late in May, the building was opened by the Minister for Education, James Merlino. Earlier that same month, $3.72million was announced for Stage 2 of Valkstone’s upgrade. Work will commence in late 2017.