In 1917 Mount Morgan Coal Mining Company in conjunction with the Mines Department commenced testing operations for coal. Developments led to an influx of miners and their families. The need for a school was evident. A committee was formed and plans made to seek Government support to promote the establishment of a school.
Because of the unsettled state of the coal mines at the time, the Department of Public Instruction could not approve a State School, but was willing to open a Provisional School. A tent was erected and the Department advised that a school to be known as the Baralaba Provisional School, was to be established. The first Headmaster was Mr Edward C Asmus, who was appointed on 19 August 1918. By 1921 the tent was totally inadequate for use by some 50 children. When the tent became badly torn, school was moved to a temporary building (which is believed to be the Railway Goods Shed). In February 1922 the school from Mt Chalmers was moved to Baralaba. Additions and a teacher’s residence were erected in 1924 and a new wing with two classrooms was built in 1926. Until this time, children had classes under the school.
The great flood in 1928 caused almost a ghost town effect, with miners and their families leaving town overnight. The enrolment dropped alarmingly and the two-classroom wing was moved to Theodore in 1930–1931. Since this time enrolments have fluctuated. The Primary Wing now boasts an Early Education Building, a comprehensive and wellstocked extended library, one double teaching area, Japanese classroom and Tuckshop.
The original school building now contains the Principal’s Office, general Office, Staff Room, Health Room and Store Room.
The Secondary Department was approved on 30 October 1963 and building commenced in February 1964. This section was completed and handed over the Principal on 2 November, 1964. In 1964 the first Year 8 class did their lessons under the school buildings—as those primary children did in the 1920’s—and continued to do so until the original secondary buildings were completed and officially opened on 17 July 1965. Extensions to the Manual Arts Building were ongoing up to and including 1987.
James R Cutler was the first Principal to oversee both Primary and Secondary Departments. The first teachers in the 1965 Secondary Department, offering classes in Years 8–10 were: Peter Christiansen (Mathematics/Science), Gwen Norton Commercial, Bob Rutherford Manual Arts, Betty Wickenhofer (Home Economics), Chris Bergen (English and History).
Even though our school has fluctuated in size, the culture of our school has remained the same. Despite changes in student numbers and increasing amounts of transiency in our local communities, our school continues to be well supported. There always have been willing workers to roll up their sleeves when hard work needs to be done around our school.
Today’s community feels much the same. They appreciate the small country school atmosphere with values very similar to the families who support our school. It proves that our school is an important part of our community and that our families continue to support our school.