Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students designed CREST, which represents Confidence, Respect, Equality and Thriving, and they were instrumental in the success of the day, producing some amazing learning experiences in which the whole school participated.
COVID-19 restrictions created difficulties for invited members of the local community to come to St James’ and share information on culture. But the older CREST Crew students really stepped up and they became the sharers of knowledge on the day.
Technology enabled a couple of the community members to be involved in the day remotely. Former student Georgia Pascoe provided the Welcome To Country in language and Jacob Ellis from Ochre Opportunity Hub taught the students a traditional Dhinawan (emu) dance.
Students were involved throughout the day in learning and fun. They made artworks, played traditional Indigenous sports, danced, yarned, feasted and were immersed in celebrating culture. The well-organised canteen helpers managed to feed virtually the whole school on Kanga Banga Sangas and Wattleseed Ice-cream.
An integral part of the day was the learning and sharing that took place around the school’s new Yarning Circle Garden. Over the past couple of months this area has been transformed with the support of many people from the local community who also shared their vision.
Malabar Coal donated the outdoor Yarning Circle seating area to begin the process, and then the ideas for the garden exploded. CREST Crew students came up with many great ideas on developing the area. They contacted Mick Brady, the Sustainability Officer from Muswellbrook Shire Council, and he connected them with Paul Melehan, the Upper Hunter Landcare Coordinator. From here the plans went to the next level. What a wealth of knowledge this generous man is.
Next on board were Mick Threadgate and the team from Final Form Regeneration who helped the vision become a reality, even donating their own free time to get this completed on schedule. Hunter Indigenous Plants supplied the flora that couldn’t be locally sourced, and Muswellbrook Landscape Supplies donated some of the materials needed to complete the garden. The sharing of knowledge, resources and support from the local community was truly heart-warming.
The CREST Crew students planned, painted and planted for months and were proud to share this area with the whole school community. Story poles and a wide variety of bush tucker and medicine plants have gone into the space and each class has been designated specific plants to nurture and use as a source of knowledge. This will now be a place for all students to learn and connect to country.
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