Kate and Peter Butler live on a property half an hour from the Donaldson family. This year their oldest daughter Annabelle is away from home studying at university. Their daughter April is in Year 11 boarding at St Margaret’s and the baby of the family, Harry, started boarding in Year 8 at Churchie in 2014.
After spending his primary years in co-educational settings, Harry quickly adapted to and is thriving in the all-boy environment at Churchie.
Kate and Peter talk with Eagles’ Wings about the ups and downs of boarding.
Best part of boarding
Kate: ‘Harry has two sisters and has been at co-educational schools until 2013. Going to an all-boys school now was great timing for Harry; he is really coming into his own. It’s nice for him to have close mates and to have teachers who are focused on boys and how to teach boys.’
Peter: ‘Churchie boarding provides amazing opportunities for Harry to meet a vast variety of people from all different backgrounds – boarders and day boys. The best thing about Churchie is the discipline.
I love seeing how the boys conduct themselves; they’re taught to have and appreciate good manners. It’s lovely to see how they talk with their teachers and guests at the Churchie. This is a skill they will have throughout their lives.’
Hardest part of boarding
Kate: ‘I miss the kids every day. The hardest thing is not having everyone around when we are cooking dinner; I miss the noise. It doesn’t feel the same when it is just the two of us. This is one of the reasons we save cattle work for the school holidays; it gives us a chance to all be involved.’
Peter: ‘One of the things I miss the most is seeing Harry’s sport each week. We loved going to Harry’s soccer games.
I can understand people not wanting to let their children go when you live in the bush; it’s a sacrifice and we miss our children but the exciting thing is the boarding house environment and what they get out of that.
It’s exciting to go to Brisbane and see all the kids together; they are a family of kids. It’s a fantastic experience. I don’t think the kids are missing out on much; we are the ones missing out.’