Ivanhoe Grammar School.
Monday 16th September 2013.
Dear Roderick Fraser and School Council members,
You may not know of Lauren Kidd.
Not so long ago she lived close by the school, and on summer afternoons ran and played on the southern oval with other neighbourhood ten-year-olds and dogs, or sat with friends in the shade of that avenue of trees that links Fairy Street with Merton.
Parents clustered in quiet conversation. Teachers and ground staff stopped to chat. It was a neighbourhood.
These were happy days for Lauren and her friends, but then she took ill. The diagnosis shook the neighbourhood
– leukemia. Weeks passed as Lauren weakened. She ran no more down those slopes of green grass; instead could only struggle on crutches, then a wheelchair, and watch the others play.
Thirteen years ago Lauren died, not
yet a teenager. There was a funeral, but as a small community we wanted a more visible memorial to our friend. That tree is now the most exquisite specimen on Ivanhoe Grammar property: the manchurian pear, in front of the old caretaker’s
house on Merton Street. That is Lauren’s tree.
As Lauren’s mother said: “I was extremely touched when a tree was planted in Lauren's honour and the way such an act united both neighbours and school as one.”
We, the people of your neighbourhood, want you, Headmaster, to know of Lauren, and of the countless other children and families who lived and worked and played and shared their lives, all within the sound of your school bell. We want
you to know how deep the relationships of harmony were between school and community.
How things are changing!
We feel we are losing touch with our neighbour, Ivanhoe Grammar. First, the fence, that grey steel
spiked structure that surrounds and excludes. Then the ever-growing problem of street parking. Our local streets are becoming nothing more than access points to the school; not streets at all. We feel we are confronted by a corporate juggernaut
where our neighbour used to be.
And now we are faced with your plans for the future, especially relating to vehicular access to the proposed gymnasium complex. The Boulevard is iconic in suburban Melbourne. It
draws people from far and wide to take pleasure in such a beautiful area – runners, bike riders and walkers, bird watchers form interstate and overseas, families at Christmas time. On the Boulevard itself that green slope below your swimming pool
speaks volumes for the school’s sense of aesthetic charm and integrity with its neighbourhood – until now.
But beyond its beauty, the Boulevard is a narrow and difficult stretch of roadway for motorists. That the school
would consider disruption to the flow of Boulevard traffic, would consider compromising pedestrian and vehicular safety, would consider enclosing with a fence and cutting with a drive that one remaining space of green does fill us with despair over the school’s
vision for its own future.
Headmaster, we do not at all begrudge development, nor your entitlement to grand visions for your school. But let them be within the following few parameters:
- Do not allow vehicular
traffic to enter from the Boulevard.
- Do not add one more metre of fence.
- Do leave open all existing pedestrian thoroughfares.
- Do take responsibility for school-related use of surrounding streets.
few ways the school will demonstrate that it has not forgotten its place as neighbour in this your local community.
Andy Wilson, Banyule Council
Representatives of local citizens
Reference to Lauren Kidd has been included
with the full knowledge and agreement of Lauren’s mother.