BEFORE it was Mary Valley State College, it was Imbil State School.
The name of the school was changed in 2002, to reflect, it was said, more accurately the communities from where the student body of Mary Valley College comes from.
And that's because students have been coming to the school in Imbil from all over the district for 120 years.
On July 19 the school will officially be 120 years old, having originally opened a provisional school on that date in 1897.
There have been dramatic events in the history of the school and the fact it has changed and adapted to suit them is a reflection of the people of the Mary Valley itself.
Imbil Station was established in July 1851 when tenders were called to operate two 16,000-acre blocks at Bluff Plains and Bunya Creek.
This was taken on by John David McTaggart who also operated other selections at Widgee.
When the two leases were taken on by Paul and Clement Lawless, the property was consolidated and became Imbil.
Imbil Station started with sheep but became a cattle run, before the lease was taken on in 1875 by Matthew and James Mellor and William and John Elworthy, who were among the first licensed timber cutters in the area.
However, gold was found in the Imbil area in two strikes: once in 1851 and the second in the same year as James Nash found gold in Gympie, 1867.
The second time a tent city sprung up almost overnight as people rushed to the fields to try to make their fortune.
As the gold petered out though, some people stayed on to become farmers and timber cutters at the hub of the area, Imbil station.
A small provisional school was opened in July 1897 with 18 students.
Difficulties in keeping the school open occurred from time to time due to the lack of numbers and some children were forced to attend schools at nearby Bollier or Brooloo (Bluff Plains), while others simply didn't go to school.
In December 1911 the school closed altogether after a report from the school inspector.
"Attendance is six. Parents are to blame in this matter and have little appreciation of the school privileges for their children. Consequently the school will be closed.”
A massive land sale took place on St Patrick's Day (March 17) 1914 when 300 buyers converged on the station to bid for townships allotments, drawn up after a new railway line was completed linking the new township directly with the Gympie goldfields.
Less than 12 months later, a letter was sent to the Under Secretary of Education requesting a new state school be built.
Written by Walter Sanderson on behalf of the residents of Imbil the letter stated:
"The estate has recently been cut up and all the town blocks sold and nearly all the surrounding ones. There are quite a number of people that we know of who have come, or are coming, to reside at Imbil and with our present and future prospects we are ageed that they fully warrant our claim.”
By October 1915 the school was up and running again with 33 students in the former provisional school and by June 1916, work had begun on the new school building.
The new head teacher, Mr George Pestorius enlisted in the army in 1916 and his wife took on the role as teacher, with an assistant teacher.
When Mr Pestorius returned at the end of the First World War, the whole school met him at Imbil Railway station to welcome him home.
In 1925 a wing was added to the Imbil State School to become additional classrooms, a Head Teacher's office and space underneath was used for the rural school section.
The rural school was established to serve the whole of the Mary Valley, much like the college does today, from Lagoon Pocket to Brooloo.
This building was actually the former boy's school building from One Mile State School.
It was dismantled and re-erected at Imbil after it was no longer required at the Gympie school.
Then, in the dying hours of Wednesday, July 20, 1937, the Imbil School and Rural school burned to the ground.
An article at the time in The Gympie Times said the loss of the belongings alone was estimated at more than £3000 and that the circumstances of the fire were "highly mysterious”.
Until the new building was completed in August 1938, classes were held in the memorial hall and in December of that year, the school was officially opened with a school picnic.
More additions were added to the school during the 1950s and in 1966 the school added a secondary department to its curriculum.
This, of course meant students were staying longer at the school, so more space was needed and in 1970 when nearby Brooloo school was closed down, the old Brooloo school building was moved to Imbil to become the secondary section and library.
In 1977, a preschool was opened at the Imbil State School and the school continued to grow to become the regional educational hub it is today.
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