When Caleb Flannery started kindergarten at St Joseph’s Primary School last week he continued a family tradition.
The Glen Martin five-year-old was the sixth generation in his family to attend the Dungog Catholic school.
Flying the flag before him was his dad Rhys Flannery and Reece’s mum Simone Smith (nee Trappel) of East Maitland.
Simone’s mother Michelle Trappel (nee Marquet) from Dungog was there and Michelle’s mum Pat Marquet (nee Ernst) attended before that.
Going back even further, Pat’s mother Nellie Ernst (nee Robertson, Caleb’s great, great, great grandmother) was the first generation of the family to attend the school in the early 1900s.
Caleb’s dad, grandma and great grandma had fun reminiscing at the school last week when The Chronicle caught up with them for our front page photograph.
“There was no air conditioning back in my day and none of these covered play areas,” laughed Simone who had fond memories of her time at the school including playing “elastics” at lunch time.
The canteen used to be called a tuckshop and the nuns lived in the convent which is now the school administration building.
“The nuns used to give us cooking classes in the front of the convent – you just wouldn't do that sort of thing now.”
Simone’s three older sisters and her father also attended the school.
“It’s a small and connected school, you get to know all the kids,” she said.
Michelle recalls the old hand ringers of the nuns’ washing machines and getting pens pulled out of her hand when her writing was not neat enough.
“The whole school would do exercises every morning with the nuns out the front in their black habits and rosary beads doing it,” she said.
“We used to learn our times tables by rote, we’d say them like a parrot … but I can still remember them.”
All her 10 grandchildren have attended St Joey’s.
As for Caleb, who had a new backpack and a wonderfully healthy and full lunch packed by his mother Alivia, the start to school had been “great”.
The little boy with the huge smile wants to be a snake catcher and a farmer when he grows up.