When it came time to choose a school for the littlest ones, Flinders came out on top again and again.

When Natalia and Tim Fitzpatrick enrolled their first child, Rachael, in Matthew Flinders Anglican College, they didn’t know it would be the start of a 24-year relationship with the school.

It was 1996, and at that point in their lives they didn’t know they would go on to have six children. As their family grew so did their enjoyment of the school and its community, and when it came time to choose a school for the littlest ones, Flinders came out on top again and again.

“The school was gradually growing, the kids loved it, and it was just a nice environment.”

Mrs Fitzpatrick

In the 1990s the primary area was quite basic, she said, but the teachers were “gorgeous”, and some of them had remained friends to this day.

Having gone to a state school herself in far north Queensland that “wasn’t even airconditioned”, Mrs Fitzpatrick said social status did not come into their decision, but both she and her husband had liked the idea of a school with Christian roots.

“Having a faith-based school is a good thing,” she said. “Whether you’re religious or not, it doesn’t hurt to be exposed to a belief system that’s been around for a couple of thousand years and has stood us in good stead for providing a base of moral guidance.”

Tim runs a pharmacy in Landsborough, and for years the children had commuted from their home in Beerwah before they relocated to Buderim in 2000.

As the mother of six children who each played piano plus at least one other musical instrument, Mrs Fitzpatrick had been president of the Friends of Music and also president of Netball for many years. She threw herself into life as a Flinders parent in other ways too – reading to Preppies; baking treats for the kids at music rehearsals; helping with netball and other sporting pursuits.

“If you want to be involved in your kids’ lives, you’ve got to put your hand up,” she said. “By doing it you’re role modelling for your kids that volunteering is a good thing, and you’re helping a greater good of which they are part.”

The children had all been school prefects, had been part of the school’s buddy system for high school students to help younger children, and following graduation had gone on to university. Rachael was an economist, Lauren a paediatric occupational therapist, Sean a pharmacist, Naomi a dietician, Ingrid a nurse and Vivienne was studying health science and arts.

“The school is like a smorgasbord, they all had everything they could be interested in, to choose from,” she said.

Mrs Fitzpatrick said she would recommend Flinders, which helped her children to mature into well-rounded people.

“When I went to school, you never stood up. You rarely spoke in front of the class. But these kids are doing it from Prep. They stand up, and they’re doing it… and they speak really well.”

By Nicky Moffat 

COVER IMAGE: Flinders parent Natalia Fitzpatrick with four of her six children at a Flinders morning tea.