Prior to settlement, Mapleton was a rainforest area, rich with red cedar, beech and pines.
In the 1890s several farming families settled in the Mapleton area, clearing land for cultivation. In 1892 an agriculturalist visited suggesting the area would be well suited to growing citrus. The area prospered and quickly became a leading citrus producing area, as well as a producer of strawberries and pineapples.
By the mid 1890s an area of land in Mapleton was commissioned to be set aside for a school reserve. The size of this land was approximately one third of the present area of the school ground. The Mapleton Provisional School opened on 17 July 1899 with an enrolment of 15 students, and teacher Lizzie Fitzgerald. The building was built by the locals with the agreement that it be used for public gatherings and social events during out of school hours.
In 1908 the building was found to be unsuitable, and a new building was built. This building still stands as the central room of A Block. The original building was sold and removed. In 1909 the school was re-commissioned to the status of State School.
By 1913 the student enrolment was 35 students, with two teachers, and in 1917 a school residence was constructed. In the early 1920s the enrolment had grown to 90 with three teachers, and the building was extended adding a second room on the southern side. A play shed was constructed in 1929 and stands today as the Schools Officer’s building.
The 1930s saw a decline in student numbers as the depression took hold causing the collapse of the citrus industry, and during the 1940s war times saw the school population reduce further. The school went back to being a one teacher school.
The numbers slowly increased in the 1950s and the lower oval near the multipurpose court was prepared as a playing field, and further enlarged in 1970s. The verandahs of the original room were enclosed in the 1960s to provide a larger learning space. The school fluctuated between one and two teachers over the 1950s and 1960s. In 1967 the Dulong, Kureelpa and Flaxton schools closed and Mapleton State School absorbed their students.
The early 1970s saw a development boom as primary industry (particularly growing pineapples and dairying) declined in the area and land opened for residential blocks and housing estates. The Principal and P & C Association foresaw the lack of land space with the projected school growth and successfully petitioned to secure the land which became the upper oval where M and D block as well as the hall, tuckshop and observatory now stand. By 1975 the enrolment was 75 with three teachers. In the late 1970s F Block and I Block (the old toilet block) were built and the decade finished with an enrolment of 91 students.
By 1981 the student population had risen to 120 with four teachers. The 1980s was a decade of significant growth for the school with the building of B block and C block and the amenities building. The area of land behind the present BP/IGA complex was up for sale in 1982 and purchased for future development as a sports oval. It was in 1996 when it was cut and filled, leveled and prepared for use. A competition was held for students to name the new oval. The winning entry named the oval as Galbiri oval, an Aboriginal word meaning “place of children”.
Other significant changes in the 1990s were the removal of the school residence which had been vacant for a number of years. It was relocated to Obi Obi Road and called The Old School House or TOSH. The new car park was built on the area vacated by the school house and the old smaller car park. In 1999 the school celebrated its centenary and a time capsule was buried in front of the present Administration/Library building. The time capsule was subsequently relocated to in front of A block.
In 2002 the Astronomical Observatory was build after a successful grant application. After a second successful grant application A block was extended with the addition of the music room. The most recent major facilities were completed in 2009. These included L block (hall), M block (library/administration building) and N block (tuckshop).
Improvements to the school grounds and existing facilities continue. A major project has seen the re-vegetation of and improvements to the swamped area on the school boundary where Baxter Creek flows. This area now provides a valuable outdoor learning environment.
Mapleton State School, with its dedicated staff, magnificent school grounds and unique facilities has grown from humble beginnings to providing students with optimal learning experiences for the 21st Century.
Information from 1899 to 1999 courtesy of the Mapleton Centenary Book, published by Mapleton State School Centenary Committee, 1999.