For 50 years, Hedland Senior High School has been fostering some of the town’s most recognisable leaders and community members and last week they gathered with staff and students to celebrate half a century of education in the Pilbara. Last Saturday, notable alumni including former mayor Camilo Blanco, Visitor Centre historian Julie Arif and Aboriginal Hedland Strong Leaders chair Raylene Burton attended a cocktail evening on campus, joining staff and locals in a night of entertainment. The crowd was serenaded on the evening by HSHS counsellor Sarah Maea, who shared her love for music alongside musical college Rosie Cowley. Alumni Fiona Giles and Deb Barry made the trip from Perth to attend celebrations in South Hedland. Ms Giles said it was exciting to be back in the mining town and witness how the school had developed. “So much as changed but we just remember this place as being where really good memories were made,” she said. “We still have a group of friends from school who we see all the time, in July we all went to Broome together. We are lifelong friends.” In her welcome to country, alumni Raylene Button said her time at HSHS taught her the importance of education in the region. “Fifty years has been a remarkable time in Hedland, just to get an education in this area,” she said. “My mum who is in her 70s, she had never had the opportunity to have an education in the Pilbara...and so for my mum education was important so she tried to encourage us to go to school more and get that education so we could become future leaders in this town.” As part of the weekend of festivities students, teachers and alumni gathered for an open day and morning tea on Friday. Port Hedland resident and HSHS alumni Julie Arif was one of the oldest former students who attended the day, taking “a walk down memory lane”. The 1974 graduate said she felt proud to see how much the school had developed since her time in the classroom. “I did all my schooling in Hedland as did all of my children - including my step-children - being there I don’t feel it has held any of us back, we have all been successful adults,” she said HSHS principal Janine Keall welcomed guests on the evening and said she was excited to be part of the milestone celebration.