Past River School students: 2023

Maleny State High

It was an absolute pleasure being part of the Maleny State High School Awards Ceremony last night. So many of our past graduating River School students received recognition for their achievements.

Congratulations to:

Sam Debbins – Excellence Award + Dux of Yr. 7.

Vince Veerman – Excellence Award + Yr. 7 Student of the Year Award.

Auraillia Von Dayme – The Karen McPherson Award (student who is fearless, articulate and passionate about their learning and giving back).

Jik Brinkman – Yr. 10 Excellence Award + The Arts Diamond Award (exceptional commitment to the Arts).

Killian Veerman – Yr. 10 Excellence Award + The Arts Platinum Award & The Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership & Teamwork Award.

Leon Gardener – Yr. 12 Chemistry / Physics subject Award + Yr.12 Excellence Award + Australian Defence Force Future Innovators Award.

Matthew Debbins – Yr. 10 Excellence Award + Australian Defence Force Future Innovators Award.

Arved Clegg – Applied Subject Award + Yr. 12 Merit Award.

Luca Biddlecombe – Yr. 12 Distinction Award.

Manisha Broom – Yr. 12 Excellence Award.

Arlo Molenaar – Yr. 7 Distinction Award.

Azulie Von Dayme – Yr. 7 Excellence Award.

Emma Bond – Yr. 8 Student of the Year Award Nomination.

Bella Kosch-Coyne, Abby Molenaar,

Cohen Pinho – Yr. 8 Merit Awards.

River Moodie – Yr. 8 Excellence Award.

Nathan Debbins – Yr. 9 Merit Award.

Tariq Schiotz – Yr. 9 Distinction Award.

Zarah Smolders – Yr. 10 Excellence Award.

Rhys Martin – Yr. 11 Merit Award.

Grishka Trolliet – Yr. 11 Distinction Award.

We wish all 2023 Graduating Yr. 12 students a wonderful journey as they venture beyond their schooling years.


Student Reflections

My teachers over the 2 years I spent at The River School have changed my life and I just want to say thank you to all of them.

I think the reason The River School came into my life was to find me but when I think about it, I feel like The River School came into my life just to give me an idea of who I am, because we’re always finding out new things about ourselves.

We are all unique and different and that’s what makes life awesome and meaningful because we are always meeting new people and none of them are the same and that’s what makes The River School great – because they accept us for who we are and you can be yourself.

An extract from Hayden’s Graduation Speech 2020

Hayden Miller

Graduated Year 6, 2020

Thanks to my wonderful mum I was able to attend the River School for my entire primary schooling. For me, The River School facilitated the necessary openness and focus on different types of learning and intelligence that I needed to feel valued and grow as a person both academically, emotionally and creatively. I found support and inspiration from some wonderful teachers, especially Ann Donoghue and have lasting friendships with some of my piers. I still have fond memories of creek time, climbing the ice-cream bean tree and running up that bumpy oval! 

After the River School I attended Maleny State High school where I focused on visual arts and music. I am now in my fourth year at the University of Queensland, studying a bachelor of arts, majoring in Anthropology and Art History and a Diploma in Global issues. Last year I was given the opportunity to travel to Mexico for a semester of student exchange. I am currently taking some time off from my studies to work as a gallery/studio assistant at IIkuntji Artists, an Aboriginal art center located in Central Australia. Thanks to The River School and the wonderful community of Maleny, I was, and continue to be inspired and supported to turn my dreams into reality and think outside of the box!

Nisa Ritchie

Graduated Year 7, 2006

My combined passion of animals and sports really thrived at the River School from the abundance of freedom and support. This gave me the confidence to pursue whatever I wanted and I am now a volunteer at Australia Zoo hoping to work with the reptiles. 

Bradley Stanley

Graduated Year 7, 2009

I came to the River School halfway through year three. The move was a decision made by my parents and me with the hope of a more harmonious school environment than my previous. I remember feeling instantly welcome in my new classroom and that feeling never left. As a peer group, we had many different interests and areas of achievement and yet I never felt inadequate or unsuccessful. I believe during my time at the River School, each child was considered a leader. My strengths were acknowledged and nurtured which allowed me the resilience to persist within the areas I found more difficult. I was never afraid to fail because I was willed to see my worth as a human as much as a student. Within that environment, I felt safe and secure and I think for a kid to make and reach their goals, that’s where it all starts.

These days, I’m working towards a career in Psychology with a focus on geriatric mental health.

Daphne Wootton

It taught me everything a primary school is meant to: self confidence, respect for others, virtues, how to play, have an open mind and how to love. Now I’m studying physics at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. 

Ivy Fischer

I was fortunate enough to be able attend the River School through my formative years as it helped to form who I am today. 

With all the freedom and acceptance to be whoever we wanted without any discrimination, having both great teachers and a supportive community to help when needed gave me all the skills to move to Brisbane city where I attended high school, whilst here I realised I had a passion for flying. 

Coming from somewhere which taught me I could be anything if I put my mind to it, I ended up pursuing a career in aviation and becoming a pilot.

I am now working down in Tasmania working for Par-Avion as both a charter pilot and flight instructor. I get to enjoy some of the best views in Australia on a daily basis and I love my job.


My time at the River School taught me that we all have a place as equals in this diverse world, and that we can all contribute to bettering it with our unique skill sets. My teachers instilled in me the courage to live authentically and continue my career as a Police officer during the times that I’ve felt at odds with my colleagues and organisation. I don’t think I’d have as strong a sense of self if I’d gone to another school.

Mairead Devlin

I miss it!

Hayden McDonald

Graduated Year 6, 2019


What an absolute blessing The River School has been for our son and our family. He has grown into a joyful and wise young adult and the community we are now part of, is forever.

The Cauley-Knobel Family


Honestly, I can’t say enough wonderful things about The River School. It has been an absolute joy, honour and privilege to be a part of The River School family, who have been an anchor for my family.

I am so proud of my daughter’s progress but even more importantly, of how she has blossomed into such an amazing, creative, caring and insightful young adult.

The River School family of teachers and staff will always be in our hearts and we are forever grateful. We’re sure gonna miss you when we’re gone.

Rheannon Von Dame


I give so much credit to The River School for Dyllan and the beautiful being he has become over the years – even though he was pretty beautiful to begin with 🙂

I have always held the values of The River School close to my heart, I especially love that they teach the children yoga and meditation and that LOVE is always the starting point.

Peta Goold


My children have loved the freedom to be themselves at The River School. No shoes, no uniform (except for excursions), trees to climb and not to forget the amazing creek! It’s the school I wish I could have gone to as a kid: freedom, fun and learning in one place.

Irma McDonald


Thank you for the care, wisdom and understanding you have offered our children over the years. The environment has nurtured their hearts, minds and souls.

Ketakii Jewson-Brown


Thank you so much for delivering a consistent, professional and admirable educational framework for our child.

We are so grateful that the school has lived up to our expectations and hopes, and will be sending our other child to the school as well.

Emma Hand


With heartfelt love and gratitude we say goodbye to The River School.  We will cherish our time spent at The River School and all the experiences and love the school gave to our whole family.

The Elysee Family


I visited the school before my child started and as a teacher myself, I had some questions. Trying to sound super smart, I asked the Principal her ‘teaching philosophy’. She gave me a puzzled look, hugged me, then said “we teach with love!”

Steven Little


Our son’s experience at The River School for grades 5 and 6 changed his life. The love, kindness and wisdom he received from the incredible staff led to a beautiful transformation where he felt safe, happy and free to be himself. To quote him in his graduation speech, “I’d like to thank my teachers for the best two years of my life.”  We are so grateful.

Belinda Pendergast


Quick Links

Latest school events

There are always so many exciting and enriching events and activities happening at The River School. Take a look at some of the latest news from around school and beyond...

Contact Information

The River School
251 Bridge Creek Road  (PO Box 411)  Maleny QLD 4552
Primary School: (07) 5494 3559 

Early Childhood: (07) 5499 9359 


Latest school events

There are always so many exciting and enriching events and activities happening at The River School. Take a look at some of the latest news from around school and beyond...

Contact Information

The River School
251 Bridge Creek Road  (PO Box 411)  Maleny QLD 4552
Primary School: (07) 5494 3559
Early Childhood Centre: (07) 5499 9359