A celebration of cultural diversity in our schools

Last week saw several schools across the Diocese celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity as part of Harmony Day.

Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. It recognises the uniqueness of each individual and celebrates our culture and where we come from.

In the Upper Hunter, students from St Mary’s Primary School, Scone came together to celebrate Harmony Day with music, sport and dance. The RISE group, which stands for, Reasoned, Intervention for Student Enrichment, worked with EALD students to prepare a sports game or dance from their country of origin.

"The St Mary’s RISE group is a program that we developed to respond to the need to engage gifted/extension students in a broader range of pursuits with a challenging dimension. The day allowed students to research the rules and equipment for the sports game or dance from their country of origin and teach their peers. These activities included volleyball, badminton, sticks, a Vietnamese folk dance and Gangnam style dance," said Learning Support Teacher, Tanya Ninness.

The Year 9 Japanese class from St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen made a special visit to the local preschool as part of their Harmony Day celebrations. The Year 9 students taught the children how to count and sing along to ‘heads and shoulders’ in Japanese. The students also gave the preschool children a personally made Japanese paper crane, showing the wonderful link between communities and the connection the high school shares with the local preschool.

Over at Holy Name Primary School, Forster students celebrated Harmony Day by focusing on the theme, How do we belong at Holy Name? To celebrate the school’s rich and culturally diverse environment, students came to school wearing traditional cultural dress, presented their story in different languages and shared food from a variety of cultures. Classes also learned about the significance of Harmony Day and created a poster for a competition demonstrating their understanding.

“We wanted to highlight the gifts and experiences that the students from different countries, as well as our own Indigenous students bring to our school community,” said Principal of Holy Name, Brooke Schumann.

“It is so important for students from regional areas to have opportunities to broaden their thinking about the world, to have the knowledge they need to accept differences and to learn to appreciate and love diversity.”

At Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Tarro, family and community members attended Harmony Day celebrations where staff and students wore traditional dress from their cultural backgrounds or orange clothing to support the message of Harmony Day.

“The celebration was opened by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who did a movement piece which included an Acknowledgement of Country followed by an introduction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait nations they were from,” said Aboriginal Education Teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes, Bryan Rowe.

“They reminded us of the diversity and history of Aboriginal peoples.

“We also had students perform a number of pieces including a reading of I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox and the song I’d like to teach the world to sing (in perfect harmony) to the delight of the many parents, carers and community members in the audience.”

To finish the celebrations, Our Lady of Lourdes students beamed with pride as they showed their winning entries in the Harmony Day colouring in competition and were awarded with a special Harmony Day themed prize.

At St Joseph’s Primary School, Dungog students got into the Harmony Day spirit by dressing in something orange and having special guests visit from the local preschool and early learning centre. The visitors were excited for their outing to St Joseph’s where they also engaged in an early orientation day to experience life at ‘big school’. Year 5 students from St Joseph’s will have reciprocal visits throughout the year to interact with the students and read to them in their own environment.

In its 20th year of celebration, the community of San Clemente High School, Mayfield gathered to mark this special occasion and acknowledge the diversity of its students and staff who represent over 55 countries at the school. A smoking ceremony, the setting of a sacred space, a musical item and a flag carrying ceremony marked the celebration and demonstrated San Clemente's ongoing commitment to inclusiveness and respect. 

To find out more about Harmony Day head to this website.

Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to mnnews.today and Aurora.