Teachers from flood-affected Fitzroy Crossing were airlifted home from Broome to open the school gates for the new school year.
CAPTION: An Air Force C-27J Spartan transported 41 teachers from Fitzroy Valley High School and Bayulu School from Broome to Fitzroy Crossing for the start of the 2023 school year. Story by Flight Lieutenant Dean Squire. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.
More than 40 educators made the trip on an Air Force C-27J Spartan just two days before the end of the summer break.
For most on board, the military flight was a new experience. For now, it’s the only way into Fitzroy Crossing after flood waters in the Kimberley region washed out the roads.
Sally Smee is an early childhood teacher at Fitzroy Valley High School.
“I was pretty nervous about the flight but it was really exciting,” Ms Smee said.
“Your guys [ADF] were just amazing.”
CAPTION: Fitzroy Valley High School teacher Sally Smee was one of 41 teachers from Fitzroy Valley High School and Bayulu School transported from Broome to Fitzroy Crossing. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.
Fitzroy Valley High School was undamaged by the floods, however, reopening after the summer break was in doubt as the majority of staff were on leave outside the flood zone, unable to return.
CAPTION: Teachers from Fitzroy Valley High School and Bayulu School arrive at Fitzroy Crossing. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.
The Air Force flights made the start of term possible, much to the relief of deputy principal Nicola Angell.
“School is the heart of the community. If you’re closed, the community is not functioning at an optimal level,” Ms Angell said.
“Valley High School is a big family; this is just coming home to a big welcome, which is beautiful.”
Valley High School has 300 students, from kindergarten through to year 12.
The returning staff were keen to not be a burden on scarce resources in their community following the major flooding.
“Using an Air Force plane meant we could each bring two weeks of groceries and not be a draw on local stocks,” Ms Angell said.
“The defence staff were lovely, generous and kind. It was just like the movies.”
CAPTION: Nicola Angell, right, Deputy Principal of Fitzroy Valley High School, gets her classroom ready with Liz Angell and David Wheatfill for the start of the 2023 school year. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.