Earlier this month I attended Lilydale Adventist Academy’s (LAA) 50th anniversary. Much has changed at the school since I graduated in 2005—the facilities, personnel, and even the name (now Edinburgh College). Yet as I strolled about the campus for the first time in more than eight years, one thought stuck out in my mind—“it’s good to be home”.
Clearly I wasn’t alone in this mindset. Why else would 1200 people—primarily past students and their families—from across Australia and overseas gather in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne on a cold, wet weekend in May?
We want to get the message out that while we’ve changed names, the ethos of the school is still the same. Jesus Christ is still number one.
Past students from the ’60s to the ’00s gathered for the anniversary.
“The opportunity to celebrate the Academy’s past was enjoyed by many former students,” said Edinburgh College (EC) principal Dr Malcolm Coulson. “We were very pleased with the support offered by many who attended and for their confidence that the Academy ethos will be retained under our new name.”
“My wife and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said former school principal Ross Reid during his Sabbath morning address. “No matter where we go, LAA will always be home.”
Mr Reid, a student at LAA when the school first opened its doors in 1964, is one of two former students to serve as principal of the school. The other, Dr David McClintock, was also in attendance.
Former LAA principal Ross Reid.
Another special guest was Dr Don Hansen. On Sabbath morning, the former teacher and preceptor shared some light-hearted stories from LAA’s first year—a time he aptly describes as “the great awakening”.
For LAA alumni, however, the highlight of the weekend was the formation of a massed choir on Saturday afternoon. Ex-students from the ’60s to the ’00s stood side-by-side singing classics such as “Ezekiel Saw The Wheel” and “God Is Able”. And what LAA choir performance would be complete without Paul Woodward—aka Mr Woody—leading the way?
“[It was the] highlight of my day!” said Nat Thomas on Facebook. “Was just as fun singing today as it was way back when. Beautiful songs, beautiful words. Thanks Mr Woody & team for your many years of service & blessing others through the universal language of music.”
“We’ve always said we’re in the business of making positive memories for young people,” said Mr Woodward, who spent the best part of three decades at the helm of LAA’s performing arts program.
Paul Woodward—aka Mr Woody—conducts the massed choir and band on Sabbath afternoon.
That’s really what this school is all about. Whether it’s a choir and band tour around Australia, a billycart grand prix or a mission trip to Vanuatu, LAA makes memories that last.
What’s my best memory? There are plenty to choose from, but two events stick out in particular: Festival Of Faith 2001—during which I made my first public stand for Christ—and Graduation 2003—the time of my baptism.
EC Communications director David Jones said more than 300 people had been baptised at the school over the years—that’s 300 people the school has helped nurture into a saving relationship with Jesus.
Two time capsules were opened as part of the anniversary celebration.
The past 50 years, however, haven’t come without pain. While the school community has endured some extremely difficult times, at the heart of the EC philosophy is a sincere desire to change lives for the better.
“We want to get the message out that while we’ve changed names, the ethos of the school is still the same,” Mr Jones said. “Jesus Christ is still number one.”