Dear Currambena,

I have been meaning to write for some time, but as often happens continued to put it off over the years, until coincidence strikes. I had cause to drive past the school, and saw to my delight that it was still operating, and so determined to put pen to paper.

I was one of the first Currambena Kids upon opening, and I guess it was in about 1970. My parents were being swept up in the peace movement against the Vietnam War, and saw faults in the Lane Cove Public School where I was attending. It needs to be remembered that at that time, we saluted the flag, sang God Save the Queen, and any blemish in uniform resulted in a smack with a ruler. The school suggested that I needed to conform more, and told my parents that my rebellion was so regular that I needed to see a psychiatrist.

Currambena was a revolution for me. I was asked questions about what I wanted to do each day. I learnt because I wanted to learn. The environment was free of the regular strictures of militaristic based public education, the classes were small, the teachers were named Carol (Baltrop?), Judy (Muller?) and Tony. We wore no uniform. I learned to read and write in no time, loved science, and most of all story reading. All books were open to us, and when the government banned the “Little Red School Book” it was smuggled into the school for the older students. The school gave me a love of reading that I have kept to this day.

We also were remarkably well versed and taught on the issues of the day, and were taken to “demo’s” and talks and art exhibitions. I remember well a tragedy that struck, when a student was gassed by her mother in a murder suicide. The whole school participated in a play of her life that was performed at a memorial for her – shades of Summer Heights High.

The lessons of Currambena stayed with me as I did well at school, became a criminal lawyer, then the youngest head of a law school, then the youngest Magistrate in New South Wales. Google me for the rest.

I can honestly attribute much of my success to my years at Currambena, for it gave me a love of learning that seems so rare these days, especially among boys.

From your web sight it seems that these ideals continue, and I wish the school well for the future,

David Heilpern

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