Seven Decades of Family History Make Starting School at St William’s Primary School an Extra Special Milestone

Joshua McMahon with his son Connor, on his first day of school at St William’s Primary School Grovely, holding a photo of the classroom his grandfather helped build in the 1950s.​

​For Connor McMahon, starting school at St William's Primary School Grovely has been an extra special milestone because it's been a part of his family's history since the 1950s.

Connor's great grandparents Jim and Ida Buckley created a modest home in Grovely in 1951 back when it was farming land, with Jim a returned serviceman.

Over 15 months, Jim worked weekends as part of a volunteer group to build the St William's Church and school classrooms (pictured below), which were funded by fetes, raffles, and bottle and paper drives.

This was due to the suburb being considered low socio-economic at the time – not quite the case now, with the suburb located 10km from the Brisbane CBD and the median house price growing to $830,000.

The result of Jim's hard work made it possible for the school to open in 1957​, then called St Philomena's School before being named St William's Primary School in 1963.

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A St William’s Primary School Grovely classroom Connor’s great grandfather helped build in the 1950s.

Joshua McMahon, Connor's father, shares his pride of Connor starting his learning journey at St William's Primary School Grovely.

“My mother grew up in the area and to know that my grandfather helped build one of the original buildings is pretty special," said Joshua.

“It's really wonderful having such a strong family connection to this school, having attended with my three sisters many years ago, and to see such a lovely community. It's so welcoming here and to see that continue with another generation with Connor is just fantastic.

“My favourite memory was definitely the playground, which has certainly changed a lot since I've been here – it's a lot greener now. I'll always remember being able to play outdoors with friends and having great teachers.

“I still remember all my teachers - Mrs Lee, Mrs Williams, Mrs Stevenson and Mr O'Shea. My sisters and I all started with Mrs Lee in Year One which was a nice connection for us.

“Connor is our first to go to school and we've got a one-year-old, his little brother Liam, and one day he will be starting school here as well.

“The whole onboarding and orientation process was really great, they've been really proactive with communicating with families and incredibly welcoming over the previous year so there were no nerves or tears on the first day of school."

Indeed, there were only smiles from Connor as he tried out the woo​den balance bridge in the school's new playground on his first day at St William's Primary School, surrounded by lush green foliage, sandstone seating, balance beam, and complete with a wooden tepee.

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Connor McMahon playing on the new St William’s Grovely playground on his first day of Prep.​

Principal Nick Fogarty, who has worked for Brisbane Catholic Education for almost three decades, shared how community engagement and student wellbeing have been his priorities for St William's Primary School since he became Principal in 2019.

“It's great to see these connections within St William's and the wider community,“ he said.

“When our families, and especially our students, feel a sense of belonging to their school, it supports better learning outcomes and a greater sense of wellbeing which is our aim for all our students.

“We are so glad to welcome Connor as part of our Prep cohort, and welcome back his father Joshua, this time as a parent.

“We're sure Connor will enjoy creating his own special memories and unique experiences here. There is so much for him to do here, such as our Wellbeing Club where students do yoga or meditation before school, our daily Zen Den where students go at break for quiet journaling or art, to spending time with our therapy dog Hugo owned by our Guidance Counsellor."

St William's Primary School is a Prep-Year 6 school located 10km from the Brisbane CBD in the suburb of Keperra offering high-quality holistic education. Find out more here.

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