Teachers and friends for life

Graduates from the Balmain Teacher's College celebrated a milestone 55th anniversary of their annual reunion.

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Since graduating in 1958, the students from the Orange Grove Annex of the Balmain Teacher's College have gathered once a year to celebrate the time they spent together. Through the years, they have made their mark on Australia's education system and indeed our future generations as colleagues and lifelong friends. Saturday, 17 May 2014, marked the 55th anniversary of their annual reunions.

"Everyone who can physically be here is here," beams Julie Dartnell-Harbin, "The only reason anyone isn't here is they're overseas or they're not well."

The impressive turnout is a testament to the dedication and strength of the college, one of UTS's founding institutions.

"We're very close, and that was the power of having an all-girls college," says Dartnell-Harbin. "Of course, back then, I'd just come from an all-girls boarding school and thought it was some sort of plot to keep me away from guys! [laughs]"

While 55 years is a long time, it's clear the ladies already have plenty of news to catch up on since last year. In the company of familiar friends, they spent the afternoon retelling well-worn stories from the college's glory days; a tradition that's now honed to an exuberant and performance-like oration that takes everyone back down memory lane.

A special gift was also presented to Virginia Watson, who is credited with turning this reunion into a yearly tradition.

"We really enjoyed one another's company, and we enjoy hearing about someone else's experiences in teaching because it's something that touched our lives as well," explains Watson. "It's like a lifetime of memory of something we did that was useful. We didn't just stay home and cook dinner once we left school, so it's been very satisfying that way."