Farewell From Meg Moorhouse
Finally - this is a sad farewell from me as I leave NMPS, having somehow grown up two boys who are both at high school next year, I need to hand the Parents & Friends reins over to a very experienced team led by Gen and Georgette. My deepest thanks for your enthusiasm, help, talent and friendship over many years.
See you in the 'hood'.
Q & A with Meg Moorhouse, Parents & Friend Coordinator
Meg is signing off from 9 years of fundraising & event involvement. She has led the Parents and Friends committee for the past three years and apparently her Year 6 son is tired of waiting for her to finish ‘important chats’ every pick up! We asked her a few questions as she prepares to farewell the school.
Why did you get involved in Parents and Friends in the first place?
My mum had a history of running things at the little country school I went to. This was both fun and embarrassing for my sister and I (stealing liquorice from the canteen was one benefit), so I had a good role model. I can remember as a new prep parent sitting at a training for volunteers at NMPS telling the legendary teacher Mary Marchi how much I loved a good fete. Once that was out in the open I was not allowed to forget it. Plus my fondest memories of my own school day are the concerts, sports days, parent reading in classrooms and fetes. I wanted to ensure my kids, and my friends’ children, had a similar experience. Also, I do love planning a good party.
What sort of things have you been involved in?
We have an established diary each year of events such as the bi-annual fetes and arts festivals, the Mother's Day stall and Father’s Day Bloke's Breakfast, book fairs, Spring Fling and working bees. We also usually run parent social nights like the trivia nights, and an end of year bash, like the disco or film nights. There are always many other important happenings that are instigated by teachers where they need some volunteers and help. Our work has become more complex, as numbers have doubled since my first son started school. Parents & Friends have moved from chocolate drives and hot cross bun sales towards much bigger events, requiring huge logistics, advertising, sponsorship and the like.
What are the events that particularly stand out in your memory?
Nothing is going to beat the 150th celebration of the school for sheer community participation. It was spectacular to see nearly all the children, staff and parents parading up to Errol Street in bonnets, knickerbockers and pinafores being clapped by the locals and having such fun. I also loved raising money for our chickens (that hatched in the Italian classroom) and magnificent chook house (sadly now a fun memory). Overseeing two fetes was a personal accomplishment, they stretched me beyond my imagination and left me with somewhat traumatised memories of flying marquees, rain squalls, lists upon lists, thousands of emails, but also a huge amount of pride and some extremely solid friendships. My favourite memories of the fetes include wet kids and their parents throwing hay, dancing into the night on the oval to the band, the beautiful cake stalls, amazingly novel side show alley games created by the kids and their talented teachers, and the army of henna, face and nail painters. Mention of a disco brings up similar mixed feelings of the nerves involved in keeping track of over-excited little people, and the sheer joy of watching them dance with their classmates, after dark. I’ve loved the simple gatherings too like Craft Addict working bees and preserve cooking days, selling hand made gifts to the kids, and watching dads arrive with their children for breakfast. The trivia nights have been hilariously fun, it is always good to see grown ups in dress up!
Any disasters, any nightmares?
Of course. The disco lady who arrived late necessitated us to entertain 200 little people, very hyped up for half an hour – not my forte. The food van that ripped us off and served under cooked hamburgers – that was a low point. And I can’t count how many events have had significant rain deluges right in the middle, but us Melbournians soldier on. I’m not a good sleeper and before the last fete I was very stressed – I crept home for a half hour nanna-nap on the day and in that time the animal farm wanted to cancel, the marquees were rearranged by a wind storm, rain was lashing the slow cooking spit roast, cakes were arriving, rides were blowing around, our handyman had disappeared in a huff, and the weather report had turned nasty. I reappeared to our calm team of volunteers who were sorting it all out. I had a few tears but the fete itself was amazing. Mostly we’ve survived but at the time it feels like a disaster when you’ve got lots of people relying on you! I keep reminding myself that it's all in the name of good will and good intentions and have tried to keep it in perspective.
Are there other benefits from being involved in P&F?
I’ve really enjoyed the camaraderie of good people who are behind all these ‘extra curricular’ events at NMPS. Being part of a very talented team of people (both parents and staff) is a terrific experience. They are ‘can do’ people who roll their sleeves up and continually say ‘YES’. I’ve got to know most of the wonderful teachers, cleaners, handymen, and office staff. This has given me great faith that our kids are in expert and caring hands.
I’ve also got to know my childrens’ friends really well, and seen them at all times of the day but also I now know a range of other kids which has been such a bonus.
I also think that having fun as a volunteer at NMPS has kept me sane and fulfilled my creative drive, it served as a balance to my ‘real’ job in social work. Belonging to P&F has allowed me to be playful, to look forward to events, and try my hand out at different skills. These include running meetings, promotion, budgeting, project management, liaising with local businesses, managing databases, on line bookings, MC'ing, and volunteer coordination. I have no doubt these skills are with me for life now. An experience I may not have got in my paid employment.
Plus, the best feeling is when I visit the library, the kitchen, the garden, or sit in a multi-coloured rainbow bench at school, look at the new uniforms, or sports equipment I feel connected, knowing our fundraising, our projects, and our working bees have really made a difference.
Running events at school is a team sport! My thanks to some particular people - firstly the other parents who have been on Parents and Friends and sub committees with me –special mentions to Diana, Kristina, Kate, Gen and Robyn. Our business community – sponsors and doners of wonderful North Melbourne and Parkville! The many good people who have stepped up when I’ve cornered them at the school gates and asked them for help – thanks for not running when you’ve seen me! The members of school council who work closely with P&F. All of those enthusiastic staff who have been so ready to help – especially Kathy, Jean, Anne, Sandra, Mustafa, Eric and Sally.
And of course my long suffering kids Fergus, and Charlie and my ever-ready and super tolerant partner David.
One last request.
The school experience would be much poorer without the events organised by P&F. I’m sure some people scan the newsletter and think these events somehow ‘just happen’...assuming someone on staff organised them maybe. And we do have a diverse and eventful calender. Without the volunteer-run school council and Parents & Friends Committee most of these simply wouldn’t occur. Please join in as a volunteer when you can, simply flipping sausages is important. Primary school is a fleeting moment in our lives, but so significant for our kids. Be a part of it.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life that no person can sincerely try to help another without helping himself/herself” (Ralph Walko Emerson). I’m a much richer person for being part of this NMPS community for the past nine years. My thanks and best wishes to you all.
Image: Meg with her boys when they were ‘little’ - Charlie in Year 2 & Fergus first day of prep, Feb 2010.