Four generations make history at St Joseph’s

This year, St Joseph’s Primary School, East Maitland, welcomed Isabelle Piefke into Kindergarten. Isabelle is the fourth generation of her family to attend the school.

Taking a step back in time to when fresh milk was delivered over the school fence and the tuckshop was only open twice a week, Isabelle’s great grandmother, grandmother and mother recount their time spent at St Joseph’s.

“We are very proud we can carry on the longstanding family tradition with the school. It has strengthened our relationship with the school community as well as bringing back many fond memories of my time at St Joseph’s. Especially the day we dropped Isabelle off at the front gates, I was reminded of my childhood and the friendships I formed,” said Isabelle’s mother, Rebecca Piefke.

Rebecca is the Youth Ministry Co-ordinator for the Chisholm Pastoral Region and maintains a very strong connection to the Catholic schools system. Attending St Joseph’s in 1996, Rebecca has continued her association through hosting junior youth groups at Lochinvar, East Maitland and Largs weekly.

Rebecca is passionate about engaging young people, building relationships and encouraging active participation in the life of the Church. She has become a wonderful role model for her daughter as she begins her education at St Joseph’s.

Isabelle’s grandmother, Trish McGregor, maintains a very strong connection to St Joseph’s in her role for 19 years as the Canteen Supervisor. Starting Year 3 in 1972, Trish still recalls the friendships she made and the many memories she still holds close. 

“To this day, I have never lost a connection with the school. I still remember my mother serving me through the canteen window and now I’m doing the same for my own grandchildren.

“I love to reminisce on my time at St Joseph’s, especially when the milk man delivered our daily milk over the school fence. It would sit in the hot sun for hours until the nuns collected it and would make us drink it. I would always sneak some milo in my school bag sealed up in glad wrap to put in the milk so it had some flavor,” laughed Trish.

With 14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren, Patricia Lancaster feels unbelievably proud to have her family follow in her footsteps and attend St Joseph’s.

“When I attended St Joseph’s in 1940, I remember going to visit Sister Anne every ‘play lunch’ as we called it, to help her wash the kindergarten children’s hands. I loved doing it, it is still such a vivid memory of mine.”

One special tradition the four generations will share together is the end of year school dance. From the Pride of Erin to the Canadian 3 step to the traditional barn dance, each family member will have this special memory for many years to come.

While times have changed in the past 77 years, some traditions remain as strong as they were when Patricia attended school. The four generations will continue to make special memories together at St Joseph’s while Isabelle continues her years at school.

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.