Last night the community came together at the school for a celebration. The principal Ross Davis, or Mr D, wanted to have a celebration to thank all those who had helped save the school from the fires together with all of the people who had helped since. Mr D also brought up all the staff for a well deserved thank you.
There were probably about 150 people there from young to old. It was a great night and the Flowerdale community spirit was in the air. There were plenty of smiles and laughs as people took a break from the rigours of battling through the last seven weeks.
At about 8.00pm Mr D took centre stage and shared with us some of the wonderful stories from the school since Black Saturday. One of the former students who enrolled in 1939 had been up to visit as a reminder of how long the school has been around. He also shared with us visits from other schools where people had driven from NSW, Canberra and even a group who loaded up a trailer from Tasmania and came across on the ferry. He read some of the letters of support that had been received from other school kids as young as seven. The support has been unbelievable, and had a few tears in peoples's eyes.
Mr D then played a collection of photos with "I am Australian" as the backing track. Pictures of the kids, parents, staff and celebrities such as Shane Warne, Chris Martin and Noni Hazelhurst had everyone crying by the end. In Flowerdale there is no embarrassment when people show their emotions, life is very real.
The tears were not of sadness more the sort of joy you experience when the love and support from across Australia and the world comes to the fore. Somehow seeing how much people care just brings out raw emotion in a positive and healing way.
Mr D then presented plaques commemorating the efforts of those who saved the school to be displayed in the key gathering points in the town, namely, the Rec Reserve, the pub, the hall, the shop and CFA.
Lyn Gunter, the Mayor of Murrindindi, who is a Flowerdale resident, also said a few words. It is hard to comprehend how hard Lyn has worked in the last seven weeks as here Shire covers Flowerdale, Marysville, Kinglake, Kinglake West and Narbethong. She is looking tired but is still going hard at it and has a positive attitude.
It was also good to see the warm applause for everyone who got up to speak or receive a plaque, the community is united and focused on the future, that is what is making a difference up here.
The other thing that provided the background noise was the kids all playing together. They had a fantastic night and really enjoyed themselves. It is amazing how quickly kids accept their lot and just get on and have a good time. It is something we can all learn from.
In short, a great night in a great community, thanks to all those who made it happen.