Green and white balloons glistened in the afternoon sunlight as they drifted into the clouds above Albion Park Public School on Friday.
Below, the gathered crowd tilted their heads skyward to watch the balloons, released in memory of Michael and Carol Clancy, float away.
Students, teachers, parents and friends smiled teary smiles, wrapping their arms around one another as they remembered the Kanahooka couple who were killed when flight MH17 went down over the Ukraine last week.
The school’s public memorial service was a musical affair, beginning with a few bars of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a song Mr Clancy liked to play for his students to help them settle in the school day.
A parent of a child in the school’s special needs class, an area both Mr and Mrs Clancy advocated for in their work as teachers, sang To Sir With Love. Few were left unmoved.
Later, the words to Amazing Grace filled the air, the entire gathering singing along. At the front of the assembly, Carol’s daughter Jane Malcolm sang sporadically, a small smile playing on her lips as she no doubt recalling good memories of her mother and stepfather. Her brother, Andrew, and his wife, Yuliya, stood next to her, holding each other tight in comfort.
Four student leaders shared their memories of Mr Clancy, the teacher who was always keen for a chat, always ready with a jar of jelly snakes to reward good behaviour.
They spoke bravely. Only afterwards did one retrieve a tissue to dab her eyes, from a box discreetly tucked under the lectern.
Principal Glenn Daniels spoke of Mr Clancy’s dedication to making all students feel special. Former principal Jim Cooper told the students they could learn much from his former deputy and friend, who turned up to teach each day despite excruciating and constant back pain.
‘‘There is a lesson here for all of us, given to us by Mr Clancy every day, and that is never give up on what you believe is the right thing to do. Be strong in your mind and your heart and care for all those around you.’’
His voice didn’t crack until the final lines of his address.
‘‘We will never forget you, Mr Clancy, or your wonderful wife Carol.’’