Backward Glance: Mons School
  • Thursday 22 June 2017
Last week we focussed on the origin of the name Mons which is named after the Battle of Mons and this week we shine the spotlight on the Mons School.

Mons was a fertile fruit growing area close to Forest Glen. 

When the Mons school first opened its doors on February 7, 1916, there were five families living close by. 

These families were mainly banana and citrus fruit farmers and their surnames were Dahl, Rowland, Moody, Vise and Wordie. 

There were 11 students enrolled in the first week and within a month this had grown to 25 students. 

Mons was the only school between Woombye and Buderim.

In 1907, prior to the school opening, fruit farmer Ambrose Vise, who had migrated from Lincolnshire, England in 1888, moved to the district.

He purchased 54 acres on a ridge to the west of Buderim in the area now known as Mons.

Ambrose Vise led a community effort for over two years to obtain permission to build the country school. 

He had written letters to the Department of Public Instruction of Queensland highlighting the need for the school. 

Ambrose Vise had an interview with the minister, Mr Haracre, and an inspector, Mr Benbow, who travelled to view the site to check its suitability.

These actions and a determined effort by the Mons School building committee made their venture a success. 

Three acres of land was found suitable for the school needs and then the local volunteers went to work. 

The acreage was a rough bush block to start with. 

The parents and residents of the Mons district laboured to fence the school grounds and all the children of Mons helped clear the three acres. 

There was much local interest and as well as fencing, the parents built a tennis court with a high fence around it and four racquets were also provided for the children to learn to play tennis. 

The school was constructed by builder Mr Westray with the local residents as his labourers.

Three sides of the school were open and canvas blinds were used for protection from the elements. 

The Nambour Chronicle reported on April 14, 1916: “In the very hottest weather there is nearly always a cool breeze in the school, which contributes greatly to the comfort of the children as well as the teacher”.

Though the structure was ideal for hot summer days it was not a real success in tropical storms.

Later the canvas was replaced as the rain would seep in when heavy downfalls occurred. 

The first teacher was Miss Eileen Costin who had just finished teachers college. 

As well as teaching the children, she encouraged the beautification of the grounds with her students. 

Miss Costin and the children, aged from six to 13 years, toiled together.

The children brought tomahawks and light axes to school such was their eagerness to assist. 

The pupils gathered stones even carrying them some distance from their homes to edge the front gardens of the school grounds. 

When the Mons school was first approved, Forest Glen had fought hard to obtain the school and had not been successful due to lack of a suitable site. 

Some rivalry between Forest Glen and Mons groups had simmered for a time. 

The disagreement spread amongst the students and some fights occurred between children taking sides.

Miss Costin was having none of that and the perpetrators were caned across their bottoms.

She also gave their parents a good talking to about the importance of relationships. 

The children either walked to school or, if lucky, rode a pony. 

Until the school fences were complete, the school did not have an enclosure for the horses.

This created a problem with roaming horses eating the children’s lunches, but once the fenced enclosure was complete this problem ceased. 

Times were hard and money was scarce. 

In wet weather, the students would use chaff bags or corn sacks to keep dry sometimes walking quite a distance to get to school. 

At the completion of the first year, the kind Miss Costin planned a picnic and Christmas tree with presents for the children to thank them for their efforts. 

Due to the small school grounds, the picnic was held at Mr Gibbin’s paddock at Forest Glen.

The excited children assembled in the hall close by at dusk. 

A lovely pine tree covered in numerous Chinese lanterns and loaded with presents delighted the children. 

Many of the children of the hard working district had never seen a Christmas tree like that before. 

Miss Costin distributed the presents to the children who would remember that evening for the rest of their days.

After World War II, when Rosemount School closed, it was dismantled and rebuilt at the Mons State School due to the growth of the area. 

Ambrose Vise, who had known the importance of education, is well remembered in the Mons district. 

His daughter Sybil was an exceptional student at Mons under the guidance of Miss Costin.

She obtained a scholarship to St Margaret’s School in Brisbane in 1919 and registered as dux of St Margaret’s School at the age of 18. 

After leaving school, Sybil helped for two years on the family farm which had extended to nearly 300 acres producing citrus, bananas and poultry. 

She later took up a teaching position where she continued her studies by correspondence, gaining a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland in 1930. 

Sybil Vise later transferred as a teacher to Nambour High School where she taught from 1945 to 1965. 

The Mons School, with a history of determination, closed permanently in December 1974 and on September 17, 1975 the school building was officially re-opened by Cr De Vere as the venue for the Mons Playgroup.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images. 

In 2017 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast. For more information on this milestone anniversary visit www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/fifty

Image captions:
Hero image: Mons State School Golden Jubilee celebrations, Mons, February 12, 1966.

Carousel images:
Image 1: Crowd gathered at the Mons State School Golden Jubilee, Mons, February 12, 1966.
Image 2: Group of past pupils at the Mons State School Golden Jubilee Celebrations, Mons, February 12, 1966.
Image 3: Group with souvenir programs at the Mons State School Golden Jubilee celebrations, Mons, February 12, 1966.
Image 4: Mons State School pupils marching in the Maroochy districts sports day parade, Currie Street, Nambour, 1966.
Image 5: Crowd gathered at the official opening of the Mons School jubilee celebrations, 12 February 1966