History

Timeline of Cairns High

1917

1917

Cairns District High School was founded, as an annex of Cairns Central State School (currently the Novotel Oasis Resort Cairns site).
1921

1921

the Girls’ school was disinfected daily by the students due to the outbreak of the bubonic plague in Cairns with 19 confirmed cases and 11 casualties. The Boys’ school had only bee disinfected once since the commencement of the outbreak and the students complained of overcrowding, fleas and rats.
1923

1923

moved to its present site a 5 hectare block spread from the corner of Sheridan and Upward Streets across to the corner of Grove and Grafton Streets. The site also hosted the technical college at the time.
1925

1925

the first Euroka was published
1926

1926

the school passed its first inspection, surprisingly the Public Service Commissioner and Inspector of Technical Colleges visited while the weather was still humid. Their recommendation was to increase the hours of the school week rather than reduce the amount of subjects on offer.
1929

1929

In March the enrolment exceeded 200 students, a number it would not attain again until 1939. Students came from Aloomba, Babinda, Kuranda, Mareeba, Kuban, McDonnell’s Creek, Mt Molloy, Mt Mulligan and Koorboora with some boarding in Cairns and only visiting home on weekends or even school holidays.
1932

1932

despite the Depression, the school acquired a reasonable number of First Years in 1932 with over sixty pupils. Perhaps due to the shortened Junior course, Cairns High School had Sub Seniors return this year, initially 14 students, but only 7 remained by the middle of the year. None sat for or passed the Senior exam the following year as the Senior course was abandoned.
1938

1938

Principal Barnes finished up in January. There were overall excellent results at this time and the junior candidates were succeeding in the examination each year. The school had an enviable reputation. This year the school opened with over 400 students including 50 day and evening students.
1939

1939

The Administration Block, drawn by architect Nigel Laman Thomas commenced building the foundation stone at the entrance was laid. The principal’s room and office, initially for Mr Searle, are still in the same location.
1940

1940

despite the outbreak of war 88 boys and 93 girls from as far as Cooktown, Maryborough, Longreach and Mungana enrolled at Cairns High.
1941

1941

students sewed warm woollen clothing for the bombing victims of England with approximately 100 garments sent in both September and December. Rationing of clothes the following year ended this practice.
1942

1942

The school’s oval became an American camp and the pool site was used as an American Army Supply dump. The United States 720 Army Provost Battalion Able Company originally occupied the grounds with 170 men. Also, Number 63 Squadron of the Air Training Corps was inaugurated at the High School with Principal Searle acting as commanding officer and forty cadets attending the parade.
1945

1945

The Intermediate School, a Sub Senior class and a Junior Teacher Training College were added. There were 245 students in the Intermediate School, the vocationally based curriculum was more challenging than primary school but not as advanced as high school. Every boy had to do some Manual Training at the school and every girl had to do some Domestic Science. Sub Seniors did English, French, Latin, Geography, Mathematics, Physics or Economics and Chemistry or Bookkeeping. Total enrolment was 789 students.
1947

1947

Two specialist teachers would visit schools once a week for Music and Physical Education. Students had two periods of Physical Education. Murphy (one of the specialist teachers), without Principal McGrath’s permission, boldly decided that the girls would not continue drill because of the tropical conditions and lack of indoor facilities. The Department seemed to support Murphy and recommended the school purchase an army hut from the Commonwealth Disposals. Murphy’s impertinence led to the acquisition of a school hall which would be used for the next twenty years.
1949

1949

a parent wrote a letter to The Cairns Post complaining that there was no letter sent home to explain the purpose of the annual fee of 6 shillings imposed on the families of the 600 students attending the school. The fee increased to 10 shillings in 1956 and was allocated to sporting equipment, Euroka and the library. In 1962 it was 7 shillings sixpence per term.
1951

1951

Principal Milne instigated the School song which was sang at Speech Night along with the school flag being first displayed.
1952

1952

23 Senior students were given Queensland’s first aerial geography lesson. The students paid £2/10/ each for a one hour charter flight in a DC3 Douglas from A.N.A., the ‘Tullana’. The idea was to give students a panoramic view of the Cairns district and assist in map reading and the use of contours.
1954

1954

Principal Milne departed and Cairns High had another period of instability with five principals in less than four years.
1955

1955

enrolments reached 1000!
1956

1956

2 new Technical College buildings were completed and the school became one of the state’s largest with 1600 students: 1000 Intermediate and High School students, 22 trainees, 329 trade apprentices, 51 diploma students and 206 adult students in technical classes.
1957

1957

Year 7 returned to primary school and would only come to Cairns High for vocational training. Cairns High also became the first school in North Queensland to have its own pool with a costs of 9424 pounds other projects such as an up to date reference library and bike racks were put on hold.
1958-1970

1958-1970

The Crosswell Years
1960

1960

the local dramatic society was renamed the Cairns High School Theatrical Society. One act plays were regularly performed and each form class produced a concert to support the Starving Children of Europe previously. The Club was limited in props, scripts and stage effects but added to these annually through subscriptions and earnings from productions.
1963

1963

the first year the Seniors were split into two classes… and the pranks began. In later years it was described as ‘muck up day.’ Pranks included water bombs, cross dressing, planting banana trees on the parade ground and in staff rooms, silencing bells with chewing gum, imitating teachers, painting the flag pole, an ape disrupting parade, duels with perfume filled water pistols, a passing out parade, offering the school for sale and putting a condemned sign on the exterior. The pranks were only allowed to be carried out on assemblies and breaks.
1967

1967

With the separation of the Technical College from the school, Crosswell requested a two storey Manual Training building of six rooms which joined to the Sheridan side of the High School building, enrolments were at 817 necessitating a total of 25 classes, however this was dismissed and instead another Science block (later called G Block) was provided by the Commonwealth Government at a cost of £52000 as part of a national initiative to assist in the teaching of Science. One of the rooms was used for the Senior library.
1968

1968

the old Manual Training building was finally removed and replaced by an $83866 building with two Woodwork shops, a Drawing room, a store room and a staffroom on the top floor and two Metalwork shops, a drawing room and a machine room on the bottom floor. This enabled the complete separation of the Technical College from Cairns High as the school no longer had to use the College’s workshop or Drawing room.
1970

1970

C.N. Crosswell Assembly Hall openedin perfect timing due to the demolition of the Hibernian Hall in the same year. The Hibernian Hall, which opened in 1913 was the main hall at the time and therefore the Crosswell Hall became the venue for Cairns’ cultural activities.
1970-1980

1970-1980

a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population from Yarrabah to the Cape attended throughout these years and BARGE transport
1971

1971

the school required 39 rooms per period however there were only 36 which included 5 laboratories and 6 manual training rooms, therefore 2 demountables were placed in the Quadrangle however they didn’t have fans or furniture.
1972

1972

Jean O’Rourke was the 10,000th student enrolled since the school moved to the Sheridan Street site in 1924. Jean’s parents were both members of the school’s first Senior class in 1946.
1974

1974

50th year (after relocation to the Sheridan Street site) at the commencement of the year there were 1098 students, the principal, a deputy principal and a senior mistress, 63 full time teachers, 3 supply teachers, along with 1 Administration Officer, 2 clerk typists, 7 teacher aides, 1 janitor, 1 groundsman and 11 cleaners, and an extra week holiday was granted due to extensive flooding throughout the state.
1974

1974

the pool was closed for nearly three years, past students recall the pool had green sides nd “water so murky that the teachers would not allow the children to swim underwater, because nobody could see them.”
1979-1999

1979-1999

The MacKenzie Years
1979

1979

the first Senior Induction Ceremony was held. Principal MacKenzie created an register book and every Senior Leader has been introduced, stated the pledge na dsigned this register since.
Early 1980s

Early 1980s

the TAFE College transferred to its current site, leaving Cairns State High School as the sole occupant of a 5 hectare block
1981

1981

the Fitting and Turning Shop was transformed into a Junior Woodwork and Senior Manual Arts building where temperatures were often in excess of 40ºC due to the lack of ceiling and number of people. Principal MacKenzie requested installation of some fans however, as the building was scheduled for remodelling at a later stage the request was denied.
1981

1981

The Year 11 and 12 Theatre class was created and teacher Mrs Glyn Donaghy had the students performing ancient Greek plays. Senior Theatre, Senior Dance and Music followed soon after and were the beginnings of the Performing Arts program.
1982

1982

Gloria Wong, a 16 year old Cairns High student, won the Great Barrier Reef essay competition conducted by the FNQ Promotion Bureau (now known as Tourism Tropical North Queensland) as part of Tourism and Hospitality Week. Her essay began with “Cairns without the Great Barrier Reef is the same as Arizona without the Grand Canyon or Egypt without the Pyramids.” She discussed oil drilling on the reef and the threat of spillages. Wong continued to say that the absence of the reef would lead to unemployment, a reduced number of tourists and a decreased population.
1983

1983

Mr Ray O’Rourke, a past student and teacher died on duty. A fellow teacher managed to revive him with CPR however de did not regain consciousness. Mr O’Rourke worked at Cairns Central State School and other schools before the Cairns Intermediate School in 19630 and the high school in 1964. He married a fellow Senior from Cairns High who was also a teacher.
1985

1985

the school was broken into so many times a local security firm Wormald took it upon themselves to visit Cairns High and offer a quote for an alarm system. Funds were approved the following year for metal bars and steel sheeted dorrs on the library.
1987

1987

Eight Cairns State High School students passed away tragically on 4 February in the Gillies Highway Bus Accident.
1989

1989

Home Economics block was opened originally with an open undercover area at a cost of $650,000. Soon after the Secondary Schools Capital Works Program completed the block with a new canteen, two classrooms, including one for Art a laundry and a storeroom. The top floor was designed with a staff room and textile room, a food unit, dining area and kitchen.
1991

1991

1200 students from 800 families, 90 teaching staff and 25 ancillary staff. The staff returned to see most of the furniture in the General Office had been ruined because of Cyclone Joy which passed Cairns over the Christmas break. The office was flooded and the water damaged the chipboard furniture. The grounds and gardens also needed work after the cyclone.
1993

1993

Year 10 Typing students raised over $500 in Type a thons to assist with the installation of air conditioners in the 2 D Block computer rooms.
1997

1997

the Senior Memorial area was opened and 200 people attended, 10 years after the accident.
2000-2010

2000-2010

The Gordon Years including developing a unique identity in 2001 by consolidating its various programs with a clear focus on: Traditional Values, Academic Excellence, Excellence Programs in Music, Performing and Visual Arts and Sport, High Quality Teaching supported by Technology and International Education.
2003

2003

the Indigenous Leaders of Tomorros Mr “Biff” Barford developed a regional program targeting leadership Aborignal and Torres Strait Island student in the Cairns region and 7 schools 4 students per school evolved and next year 20 students will be involved. Change of Graduates ILF
2005

2005

awarded international accreditation with the Council of International Schools (CIS).
2008

2008

authorised as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. The school remains the first school and only state school outside of South East Queensland authorised to offer the IB Diploma Program.
2010

2010

the first cohort of students commenced the IB Diploma Program as an additional alternative to the school’s senior schooling pathways.
2011-2016

2011-2016

The Mrs Toppin Years
2013

2013

the final whole of school parade was held in the Quadrangle. After 72 years of these parades it was no longer possible to fit the whole school in due to the construction of R Block to cater for Year 7s commencing in 2014.
2014

2014

Year 7s are welcomed back to secondary schools in Queensland. Cairns High has a brand new, state of the art 3 storey building with an undercover shaded area underneath perfect for outdoor learning and events.
2014

2014

the Administration Block at Cairns High was successfully added to the Queensland Heritage Register as a State Heritage Place
2015

2015

awarded Independent Public School status.
2016

2016

achieved re accreditation which shows the school’s ongoing improvement cycle ensures maintenance of high quality standards at an international level.
2017

2017

multiple events to celebrate the 100 year milestone