In typical John Burt fashion, he was suitably humble at his latest honour.
On Friday, the Ballarat Specialist School Farm Campus in Norman Street was renamed the John Burt Farm Campus after the former principal.
“It should have been called the Students’ Farm,” Mr Burt said. “When we set out to create the farm, it was all about the students.”
He said the word farm also stood for flexibility, adaptability, responsibility and management (self).
“If they can turn out young people who attend the Ballarat Specialist School with these qualities, especially flexibility and adaptability, then they are doing their job.”
Mr Burt said the farm’s community support had been “second to none” – “it’s been outstanding”.
Students learn to look after the animals, a market garden and orchard and work in the popular bakery.
There is also a play paddock, walking track, accommodation units and a program to grow Avenue of Honour replacement trees.
Mr Burt – who had some scathing words for the current education system – also took part in the inaugural Ballarat Specialist School John Burt Fun Run, with students running laps of the farm’s walking track.
“We’ve lost the plot. We’re more interested in scores and numbers and forgotten that education is about what we saw this morning and that’s young people out in the fresh air, enjoying themselves and exercising. It just doesn’t happen anymore.”
Mr Burt also had a word of advice to the whole school community, many of whom rushed up to say hello to their much loved former principal.
“If bureaucrats come in here and tell you to do this or to do that, tell them to get stuffed.”
Principal Kim Yearwood said the school community wanted to say thank you to Mr Burt for his years of service.
Joint school captains Matt Skoblar and Robbie Francis also said the school owed a big debt of gratitude to Mr Burt.
“I don’t know where the Ballarat Specialist School would be without Mr Burt,” Matt said.