Tongala’s Rohan Garth never ‘board’ in his 21 years

By Ivy Jensen

EIGHT children and 21 years later, Tongala’s Rohan Garth is signing off one last time as part of the St Patrick’s school board.

Mr Garth has been part of St Patrick’s community since his eldest child Brodie started at the school in 1996, and his youngest Lily finishes Grade 6 at the end of this year, including 13 years as the board chair.

“My wife came and told me I was on the school board all those years ago and I said righto, thanks,” Mr Garth said.

“What I found was not so much a school as it was a small community.

“It’s pretty sad not to be involved in St Pat’s anymore, I was definitely having a bit of a sook about that the other night.”

Recently, he had an official send-off, with past principals, staff and students surprising him at the school hall to celebrate his St Pat’s career.

“I had an inkling something was going on but I didn’t realise it was going to be anything like that,” he said.

“It was really surreal thinking it was all for me, it was really touching.”

He leaves with lots of good memories, with a few that stand out as particular highlights.

“I went on quite a few school camps, but one of the most memorable was in Melbourne. One of our kids used the toaster after we told him not to, and the smoke alarms went off,” Mr Garth laughed.

“They had to evacuate the whole building of more than 100 people and there were a number of firefighters there.”

He also has fond memories of annual Father’s Day celebrations and St Pat’s day barbecues.

“Back in the day, Maxi Turner from Tongala would turn up and cook a whole pig on St Pat’s day and he would be drinking home brew,” Mr Garth said.

“Every year they have a Father’s Day barbecue and with each of my kids I remember that well. They were very good, memorable days.”

But it is not just the good times the St Pat’s community are there for.

Mr Garth said it was in the bad times that the community shone.

“My mother died a couple of years ago and the school came to the funeral, which I really appreciated,” he said.

During his time at St Pat’s Mr Garth has outlasted four principals and seen the school go through a number of changes.

He praised current principal Katrina Johnson and said he was confident he was leaving the school in safe hands.

“I went to my last Father’s Day barbecue not long ago and looked at the families there and thought, yep, I’ll be leaving St Pat’s in good hands,” he said.

“Katrina is awesome. She’s turned St Pat’s around with all sorts of initiatives.

“We went to the school all those years ago because it is such a small school and their motto is strength and kindliness, and they live up to it.

“They are about the whole family.”

Ms Johnson said the Garth family had always been proud advocates of the school.

“They have always seen St Patrick’s as being an important building block for their children’s academic and emotional growth. They have also been practical and supportive of everything St Pat’s,” she said.

“Rohan Garth and his family will be remembered fondly by all of the past and present staff, students and their families. He is a great example of what it means to be community. We thank Rohan for his service and his support.”