His name is Steve

Interview by Monica Castillo

It was a cold Wednesday morning when I fumbled with the school library’s tape recorder. My  frozen fingers pressed every button as my participant was reading a set of questions on crispy white paper. His room was like a home office – photos of family displayed on the walls, suitable neatness of materials and equipment  around shelf space and a sliver mobile phone that I used to have three years ago. I began listening to my own young voice to figure out how to use the ‘old school’ style way to record an interview. Ironically, my interviewee is a school teacher. Well actually, he is more then that. His name is Stephen “Steve” Screech. And if you were a student at St Marys Senior High, you would recognise him.

He wonders around the school, cruising along the Commercial Studies faculty staff room every now and then. During cluster, (a fortnightly meeting for all students to attend about what’s happening at the school) he basically tells really – pause, wait for it- dry jokes that we as HSC students laugh at. Some are actually funny. But most importantly, he was a former student and school captain during his time at St Marys High.

Some people thought I was crazy to interview Steve (not intentionally, just jokingly) but as you read some parts of the interview, you will understand how passionate he is about St Marys and the school.


Steve’s younger years

” We originally moved to St Marys in 1963, so that’s forty seven years ago now. St Marys was a different place then. A lot more bushland then urban settlement. It was a very different place when we first moved in. I think we were one of five houses in the street where I lived in North St Marys and the rest was bush.”

“It was certainly different. I come from closer to the city and we were a migrant family that lived in Villawood Hostel for a number of years and now we were moving into I guess the “Wild West” as it seemed in those days. And, it was certainly different. There were no sewage on those days. So people had to make do with a slightly more primitive way of life then it was in the inner city.”

 The outlook

“I always liked the freedom of St Marys. You could wonder for a long time through the bush and things like that. And it was a very private and peaceful place to grow up in. People were friendly. It had a real community sense to it when I was growing up. And it was a great place to grow up in those days. It was a safe place and people were very very friendly and helpful. And it had a real strong community spirit.”

“There are many favourite places. In my days at “St Marys High School” the bush land tracks around South Creeks. And wondering the neighbourhood. In those days people used to walk around with their friends, it was just a friendly place to live. Friends used to get together on a Saturday afternoon and just walk to visit other friends. And It was just a great place to grow up as a young person.”

The change to the present

“As a young person who grew up in St Marys, and particularly my generation, we were very very proud to call ourselves St Marys people. We were all very proud to belong there. St Marys had a very proud heritage in the 60’s.”

” There have been loads of changes that happened in St Marys over a period of time. Urbanisation caught up in St Marys and what used to be largely ‘green build’ areas have become urbanised.”

Mente Manuque”  – With Mind and Hand

“St Marys High had a very high reputation. In fact, quite a number of people and gone into bigger and better things, in terms of New South Wales. One of my colleagues is actually the one of the Dean’s at the campus in the University of New South Wales. And I know of another member in the school is a member of the law faculty at the same university.”

“St Marys Senior High School has contributed a little bit in restoring some of that academic reputation. We are making a mark on Sydney, New South Wales and even Australia, which is great to see. I have really enjoyed watching the senior college grow and develop into the special institution that it is now. I always find students a real pleasure to work with and I enjoy working with numerous students in my time at the school. As we put six thousand students over the years though the HSC, it’s really great to bump into ex-students from years whose names now escape me but their faces are still familiar. They tell me what they are doing in their life and it’s really great that we had a profound impact in their lives over the years. And as a teacher, that’s what you want to do – to say that you made a difference in a group of peoples’ lives and at a result of your efforts, they went on into bigger and better things.”

 It is part of me.

“I was a student at St Marys High School, I was school captain of St Marys High School, and then I was a teacher very briefly at the Geography department at the school until I was posted at a Newcastle school and been into eight other high schools before I came back to St Marys at 1991.”

“I think St Marys is in my blood. Its part of my personal tradition. I love this place. I can not say it any other way shape or form. I truly truly love this place and  all of the things it has achieved over the time. There must be something unique in water of St Marys, I think.”

Thank you Steve Screech for your time and memories. I’ll see you in cluster with a joke!

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