“The kids were very eager. The school had a lovely family feel. Everyone knew each other and we were all happy to be here.”

Greg Cook joined Matthew Flinders Anglican College in 1990, its founding year, to teach Health and Physical Education and Geography. Thirty years on, he is still a valued staff member at Flinders, teaching in a part-time capacity.

Greg applied for a founding teaching role at Flinders, keen to be part of a staff team responsible for getting a new school off the ground. He brought experience in launching new programs, having worked to introduce HPE curriculum at four different state schools on the Coast.

He also contributed his skills and interests as a geography teacher, a qualified life saver and a coach across many sports, and shared his passion for the outdoors – enjoying hiking, camping, canoeing and surfing.

“On the first day of school, we started with very little. We had bare classrooms and just a rectangle of concrete outside to play on,” Greg recalls. The rest of the campus was either cleared dirt ground, rainforest or orchards.

“The kids were very eager. The school had a lovely family feel. Everyone knew each other and we were all happy to be here.”

Greg and his colleagues set about creating sporting programs for the students to be involved in.

“We felt it was important to offer many different sports from those early days so that students had the opportunity to participate and try new activities. Through sport, students learn how to develop a well-rounded character. Sport teaches teamwork, health, resilience, and how to lose and how to win – an important part of life. The students were very involved. They embraced the sports we had on offer.”

First Athletics Carnival, 1990, “Go Jade House”

Greg says that many of the sporting programs introduced in Flinders’ first year were created in haste, as opportunities arose.

“On the first day of school, we realised that the District Swimming Trials was only four weeks away but we didn’t have any swim teams yet. So we put the students in Houses and we found a swimming pool to host our college carnival. No swimming pools were available during the week so we could only have our carnival on the weekend. It was held at Buderim State School. We then picked our district representative swimmers from that event.”

In the first The Investigator school magazine, Greg was commended for his work on the inaugural swimming carnival, running 88 events in the space of two and a half hours.

“When it rained, we would have to attempt our PE lessons inside the classrooms – there were no undercover areas for us to run about. The chairs and tables would be moved to the back of the classroom against the walls so we could run a mini Olympics. The kids loved it!”

Greg was also responsible for ordering sporting equipment for PE lessons and organising co-curricular sporting teams. Students enjoyed trying out the games and activities, most of which were modified for play on the rectangle of concrete.

Construction began on the main sports oval, which was completed in 1991, and the school’s 25-metre swimming pool, which opened in 1992.

“The College relied heavily on parent support in those early years. Parents donated their time, expertise, equipment and funds to help establish the facilities built in those early years. It was a real community effort.”

Greg recalls that when building the oval, the grass had to be seeded rather than using turf to create an instant playing field. “We had to wait a long time for the grass to grow and the oval to be ready for use. If any of the kids played up a bit, their job was to go and pick up sticks off the oval to give the grass a better chance of growing. That kept them busy for a while.”

Watering the new Flinders oval, waiting for the grass to grow, 1990
Building the pool, 1991

Greg notes that one of the best aspects of a new school is the staff collegiality. “It was like a family because we were only a small staff. We all knew each other and we knew every kid in the school. Everyone helped where they could, it didn’t matter the program or area; everything was being set up from scratch – we had no prior systems to go by.”

In the early years, there were few of the regulations and policies that schools must now follow. “In the second year of Flinders, I believe, the Grade 9 camp was called off at the last minute. We wondered, what should we do instead to challenge our students? So we hired a bus and took the Year 9s climbing up Beerwah. It was fantastic!”

It was easy to adapt back then and do things on the run.

Greg Cook, Foundation teacher
Flinders first Year 8A with founding teacher Greg Cook ,1990

Over 30 years of Flinders, Greg has observed that the students are still the same.

“The kids are kids – they haven’t changed. They enjoy being here and genuinely want to try all the different academic and co-curricular opportunities that they have at their fingertips at Flinders.

“Parents want their kids to be here – families are invested.”

“I think this is the best school on the Coast. My two children went from Prep to Year 12 here and they turned out to be good people, which is so important. To learn how to be a good person is the ultimate goal of the schooling journey, I believe.”

Founding teacher, Greg Cook, 1990
Foundation Teaching Staff, 1990