In 2000 one of the first middle schools in Australia welcomed its first students - and 20 years later, it was the current Year 6, 7 and 8 students who welcomed back some of the founding staff.
At the end of last term the 20th anniversary of The Armidale School's Middle School was celebrated with a sense of pride, optimism and a continued belief that the model is as relevant as ever in offering differentiated teaching and residential programs for those in early adolescence.
Celebrations started with a whole school photo was taken before students were entertained with the filmed radio play 'Jane and the Giant Peach', an adaptation of Roald Dahl's book that was originally to have been performed on stage but took on a different format due to COVID restrictions.
Later in the day Year 8 leaders Henry Kirton and Bella Fernance compered the official proceedings.
Current Head of Middle School Mr Mark Harrison spoke about the current offering including the IB Middle Years Programme; former student Ashoor Khan who was in Year 7 in 2000 shared some of his memories and founding Head of Middle School Mr Dennis Dempster reflected on the educational and pastoral benefits of middle schooling, paying tribute to the vision of Headmaster Murray Guest.
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"It seems like only yesterday that we welcomed our first group of Middle School students. What an incredible day it was following two years of planning by a dedicated group of people who believed in the importance of having a program specifically designed for students in their middle years of schooling," he said.
He recalled the opening in 2000 by Professor Gordon Stanley who praised TAS for leading the way with a model that catered for early adolescence with academic, social and boarding structures that suited the specific needs of students as they transitioned from primary to middle secondary.
As Archie Pengilley and Gus Sevil played the bagpipes, students packed a time capsule with all sorts of things from 2020 for the future (including several items to remind future historians of the pandemic) that Henry, Bella and Ashoor Khan buried near a large rock in the Middle School garden.
And what sort of birthday would it be without cake - devoured enthusiastically but the current crop of TAS Middle Schoolers.