Education Field Day
Coonamble High School hosted the inaugural Connected Communities Education Field day to celebrate the journey and the successes of the 15 Connected Communities schools.
All of the participating schools facilitated sessions on successful projects and programs from their schools including sessions on Healing and Attendance, Learning on Country, an Elder in Residence program, cultural mentoring and health partnerships.
The event was attended by community members, parents, teachers and senior departmental officers from across NSW with some wonderful student performances by Walgett Community College and Bourke Public School (pictured).
The day was considered a great success in profiling some of the great work in the Connected Communities schools while providing inspiration on projects and programs to other schools.
Taree Public School 150th anniversary
The Taree Public School will be having a celebration of their 150th year anniversary on Friday 6th November 2015.
This is a significant achievement and to celebrate the school is holding an open day to display the history of the school and the changes that have occurred.
The open day will commence at 10am on Friday 6th November. There will be a special assembly, open classrooms and viewing of historical displays. All parents, past students and staff and community members are invited to attend the celebrations.
Historical displays will also be open for view from 10am - 2pm on Saturday 7th November.
The gift of reading
Students from Taree Public School have received free books as part of the 'Books in Homes' program encouraging school communities to foster the importance of reading and improve literacy in schools.
On 19 June students were each presented with three books at a special book giving assembly. They were joined by special guests from The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, sponsors of the program, and author and illustrator Stephen Michael King.
Mr King shared his memories of reading as a child and read his new book, My Dad is a Giraffe, to the assembly. The book had not yet been published and the students from Taree Public School were the first in the world to hear and see the story.
The author then turned to his illustration skills and drew a picture from his new book. Students were mesmerised as they watched Mr King draw two circles and turn them into a giraffe. Students and teachers watched in awe as the marks he put on the page transformed into an illustration of the characters from his book. The finished piece is set to be framed and hung on display at the school.
The students were very excited to attend the assembly and receive the books to take home and enjoy.
A second book giving assembly will be held at the school next term.
Space to learn
Hillvue Public is reinventing the school by converting classrooms into open plan and shared learning spaces as a new vision takes shape.
Footy gala day
On Wednesday the 1st of April Walgett Primary school took 16 boys and girls from years 2-6 to play in the annual NRL Goodooga gala day.
Bullying, No Way
Bourke High School students and staff came together on March 20 for a day of action to say "Bullying, No Way".
Students had been working on the anti-bullying theme for a number of weeks and used their creativity and self-expression to spread the word.
The students developed their own messages, displayed them across the school, and made delicious cupcakes to celebrate the day.
Essential Energy donated its time and equipment to take an aerial photo of the students' message of unity.
Tin Town Trackers return
After the success of the Coonamble High School video clip ‘Tin Town Trackers – Bring it Back', Coonamble High students have again worked with Desert Pea Media to deliver an extraordinary music video about health messages for the community.
Part of the Western Medicare Local Family Wellbeing project, the students worked with staff from Desert Pea Media to develop their message and lyrics to produce the new video clip called Tin Town Trackers – ‘Reach Out'.
Once the lyrics were written the students spent a week out and about in Coonamble filming the clip.
This song has a strong mental health focus, showing how this can affect someone and what you can do to help. The video was launched at the Coonamble Community Day in conjunction with the Coonamble Wellbeing Expo
This meant that the competition at the University of Sydney in front of hundreds of people was brave step for the young debaters.
Coonamble High School Stage 4 Debate Team (From left to right) Emily Underwood, Laura Williams, Mitchell Browne, and Sam Carey.
Bourke High School has partnered with Bourke TAFE college to offer students a program that provides hands-on experience in carpentry, concreting, painting and learning how to run a small business.
In their own words
Students from Coonamble High School have participated in a community lyrical workshop to develop a message about health issues affecting their community.
Part of the Western Medicare Local Family Wellbeing project, the 14 students worked with staff from Desert Pea Media to develop their message and lyrics and produce a video clip called
The students spent a week filming in different locations around Coonamble, while learning about their history and culture from family and community members.
Kristie Pearson, the school's Senior Leader Community Engagement, said one of the best parts of the experience was seeing how the students worked together on the project, which she believes is at the core of the Connected Communities' strategy.
"Seeing the lyrical component the students created themselves, that included local Gamilaroi/Weilwan words along with the embedding of respect for ‘ancestors and ourselves' was really exciting," she said.
"Productions such as this can instil that sense of pride in self and heritage and encourage the continued preservation and revitalisation of our culture."
Since the launch students and staff have regularly played the song to their community, receiving a very positive response.
The students were thrilled with their achievement and are looking forward to the next production.
Wilcannia art on show in Sydney
Wilcannia Central School recently joined with City of Sydney Council and Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation to bring the work of eight Wilcannia artists to the Pine Street Gallery in Sydney. Read more.
A place for listening, learning, knowing
Taree High School has officially opened its new Aboriginal Resource Room, Ngarralbaa, where students, families and the community can meet, learn about local Aboriginal culture and language and receive educational support. Read more.
The Bogga Boys ft. Lohara Nicholas - 'We Will Be'
Check out this video made by the young people of Boggabilla as part of a mentoring project with Desert Pea media. The project was funded by the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group for the Connected Communities initiative.
School opens shop front
Coonamble Public School has opened an information and community engagement office on the main street in Coonamble to further integrate the school into the town. Read more.
The rewards of reading
A lesson in language
Wilcannia Central School hosted the launch of the Paakantji/Barkindjii Language and Culture Nest and showcased the students' language learning for the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Victor Dominello. Read more.
A right Royal honour
Student leaders at the reception, from left, Kiara Smith (Moree East PS), Mickayla McEwen (Coonamble HS), Shaylyn Whyman (Wilcannia Central School), Adrian Scott (Walgett Community College) and Mitchell Harvey (Bourke PS).
Five students represented Connected Communities' schools at a NSW Government reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Sydney's Opera House on 16 April.
The students were part of a contingent of 30 student leaders selected to represent NSW public schools at the reception for 400 people.
One of the students, Mitchell Harvey, school captain of Bourke Public School, was excited to meet Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.
"He talked about Bourke and asked me if it was hot," Mitchell said. "He was very friendly."
Mitchell, 11, who travelled to Sydney with his father, said he was proud to represent his school and would tell students and staff about his experiences at an assembly after the holidays.
Mitchell and student leaders from Moree East Public School, Coonamble High School, Wilcannia Central School and Walgett Community College enjoyed watching the NSW Public School Aboriginal Dance Company perform before the Duke and Duchess.
Six members of the dance company performed White, an adaptation of Bangarra Dance Theatre's Ochres repertoire that explores the mystical significance of ochre in Aboriginal culture.
The NSW Public School Dance Company is a collaboration between the Department of Education and Communities and Bangarra Dance Theatre.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their baby son, George, are visiting Australia for 10 days.
Lights, camera . . . dance
Breakfast is on at connected communities schools
Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli today announced a $100,000 investment in breakfast programs at the 15 Connected Communities schools across the State. Read more.
Students share cultural stories
An exchange program between a school in the state's far west and one in Sydney's northern suburbs is teaching students that their childhood experiences are very similar, despite their geographical separation. Read more.
Personalised learning plans
There's nothing like an informal barbecue to bring a school community together and embed an educational message at the same time. That's what the new Executive Principal of Taree Public School did to quickly establish her local knowledge bank. Read more.
"Big school" for four-year-olds
Every week 50 bright-eyed children turn up for "lessons" at Bourke Public School.
The children are four-year-olds taking part in a unique school transition program, where they go to "big school" two days a week and to a local preschool for another two days. Read more.
Hat's on for a sun safe message
Students at Hillvue Public School in Tamworth are being taught about the dangers of sun exposure through a Sun Safe campaign implemented by Executive Principal Mr Chris Shaw.
"We have purchased hats for every child and they are kept at school to ensure every student has a hat to wear outside in the playground," Mr Shaw said. Read more.
Healthy start to learning
A central feature of the Connected Communities' strategy is for schools to form effective partnerships with government and non-government agencies to benefit the learning needs of students.
Bourke Public School has developed collaborative and sustainable partnerships with Bourke Community Health, Bourke Medicare Local and the Bourke Aboriginal Medical Service. Read more.
School attendance program
Five School Attendance Officers have been employed and one mentor to work at Boggabilla Central School with students and their families to improve attendance rates.
The officers and mentor started at the beginning of the school year and will be employed for two years. Read more.
Sport is awesome
Students at Taree High School, in partnership with Forster Films, are producing short films to explore issues relating to health and well-being.
The films provide the students with an exciting medium to explore their knowledge and feelings on a particular subject and learn new skills in digital film making. Read more.
A smooth start to school
Muriel Kelly faced a challenge when she took up her post as Executive Principal of Moree East Public School.
At the end of 2012 there was just one kindergarten enrolment form lodged and she was told to expect as few as 10 new students. Read more.
Go west for a taste of teaching
Teachers from metropolitan schools are being given an opportunity to see what life is like in remote NSW by participating in a week-long tour to teach in Connected Communities' schools.
Connected Communities contact officer Paul Hughes said the professional learning experience was a great way for city-based teachers to get past their reservations of teaching in a rural school. Read more.
Rhino art education
Coonamble Public School is one of 55 schools from across NSW involved in painting 64 rhino calves as part of the Taronga Wild! Rhinos education program.
In many instances, the names and decorative styles selected for the rhinos reflect research and deep understanding by the students of the plight of rhinos in the wild, and of conservation issues generally. Read more.
Indigenous sky stories
Students from Coonamble Public School and Coonamble High School are looking to the night sky in a collaborative project that aims to map indigenous sky stories and engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Charles Sturt University's Associate Professor David McKinnon and postdoctoral research fellow Lena Danaia organised 20 schools to collaboratively map Aboriginal stories based on the night sky and each school has been given a telescope and an iPad to record and upload stories. Read more.
Language and Culture Nest
Wilcannia Central School has been chosen to host the regional centre for the Paarkiintji Aboriginal Language and Culture Nest.
The nests are part of OCHRE, the NSW Government Plan for Aboriginal Affairs and aim to revitalise and maintain Aboriginal languages. Read more.
On a positive note
The land is the centre of spirituality for indigenous Australians, so when Bourke High School students were asked to write their own song they chose to highlight their connection to country.
It's Home is a catchy, country music song that shows the students' appreciation of the landscape of Bourke and includes the lyrics: "It's home. My connection, my soul, my start. It's home." Read more.
Data tracks student progress
Wilcannia Central School has collected data on all students from Kindergarten to Year 10 and each primary class now has individual targets for all students.
Classes in Years 7 to 10 have been redesigned to ensure there is a timetabled numeracy and literacy group each morning. Students have been assessed and staff understand the level and skill gaps for each individual student. Read more.
When I grow up...
Coonamble Public School has introduced a weekly information session so students can learn about professions they might consider entering when they finish school.
Titled "Job of the Week" the school invites one guest every week to discuss and answer questions the students might have about their profession. Read more.
Open door policy
Opening up community access to Wilcannia Central School has been a key priority of Executive Principal Sandra Bradley since she took up her appointment in 2013.
Remote Wilcannia, two hours' drive from Broken Hill, has a shortage of internet connections and no town library so Wilcannia Central School is opening its library after hours so community members can meet and access computers and books. Read more.
Cattle class steals the show
Nestled in the heart of some of Australia's best cattle country, Coonamble High School's Bovine Appreciation Club works closely with some of the industry's best practitioners.
The club is run by students who operate every part of the business. The students are given a diverse range of opportunities to strengthen their knowledge of cattle production, as well as improving their business skills and employment prospects within the local community.
Founded in 2003 after two Poll Hereford calves were donated to the school, the club now has a turnover of more than 30 show steers a year.
The club also oversees the production and marketing of BAC Blue branded beef, dry land farming, ration formulation and a range of community partnerships.
At the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter show (pictured), the 5am starts, midnight finishes and hard work paid off when the team of 15 students picked up an award in every discipline entered.
With names such as Mr Greedy, Mr Fussy and Mr Strong, the nine Coonamble High steers were successful in categories such as led steer, parade, junior judging, carcass and virtual taste test.