Photo supplied. Shearwater 2018 graduate Jahvis Loveday has won the Byron All Shorts film competition for the second year in a row, with his film Bama, featuring his brother, Year 10 student Elijah Loveday. Jahvis' film about a young Aboriginal boy leaving home for school in the city, was selected from over 50 other films from the Northern Rivers region. Read more here.
The beginning of a new school year seems an especially joyful time. Spirits are revitalised; teeth and limbs have grown; adventures have been had and new adventures are sought.
The year began with much excitement about our new musical journey with our very own cello or violin. We have also been creating with clay in the workshop, under the gentle guidance of Ben, which the children just love. As part of the Class 3 choir, we have been singing with Loani, and what a joy to hear both classes singing together.
New for us also this year - a whole main lesson day dedicated to gardening, planting and growing, caring for and fostering our school gardens and beyond. Learning to love and take care of our land is being fostered with our new worm farms and taking care of the Chickenbimby flock. Pictured above are the sunflowers we planted.
This is an important picture for the 9-10 year old child, who is experiencing a stronger sense of self, moving away from the imitative, safe world of their previous years. A bittersweet yearning to be more connected with their physical world, comes with a letting go of the innocence of a time passed. Gardening brings the children into direct connection with this world, and so much fun is had (as you can see above), as we continue to adore our time spent at Crystal Creek.
Many of the main lessons support a practical world of purpose and history, as an antidote to the often lonely and confused emerging soul life. Stories from Persia and the Old Testament also support the moral development of the children, as do the artistic endeavours and daily rhythms of our day.
We are looking forward to the bush dance at the end of term and all the experiences of Class 3 in the year ahead.
Class 3 Teacher
Preschool's Banksia Rose Blossom and Rose Bud children have been coming together to enjoy a cooked morning tea every morning with Rudolf Steiner's Grains of the Day in mind. Monday we have creamy rice pudding, Tuesday barley flake apple crumble, Wednesday millet pancakes with raspberry sauce.
We set our table with flowers picked from our garden, candles and much love, respect, reverence, and gratitude. We sing a little song as we serve each child "from you I receive, to you I give, together we share, that's how we live", before enjoying our meal together. Quite often a child will call out a heartfelt thank that comes freely from their own being. Sometimes the children will ask for seconds or thirds!
At the end of morning tea, one of the children is chosen to ring a little bell to let everyone know that morning tea is finished. Then we snuff out our candle, and the children carefully wash their bowls, cups and cutlery, put away their place mats and wipe down the table before going off for inside play.
With their well-nourished tummies, the children set off for an adventure, transforming our room into a magical playground. One group of children made a boat out of tables, with chairs on top to sit on. Next, they jumped out of the boat into the water to learn how to scuba dive! While scuba diving was happening, over in our cozy corner a few children had so much work to do taking care of babies and doing busy house work.
Everything comes off our shelves during morning play. But quick as a wink, with a happy tune, all of our playthings are back on the shelf in just the right spot, ready for songs and group games with Farmer Beau, Mrs Moo and her baby calf, Mother Cluck and her three chicks Cheeper, Peeper and Feather.
Then it's time for lunch around our table, before off we go again for some more adventurous fun, playing in our garden and enjoying the rain with our new friends. What a great start to our new year.
Susan, Jess, Margaret, and Odette
Interview with Year 10 student Miro Salom
Tell us about Dragon Days…
Dragon Days is the 2020 film project that was conjured up to substitute for Shearwater's annual Wearable Arts performance event. COVID-19 required a major rethink - we knew we couldn’t invite our community to a live event, so we embarked on a film project that we could share online.
Instead of documenting a performance along the same lines as previous events, we decided to further develop the story for screen. So with a bit of filmmaking experience and a lot of enthusiasm we set out to shoot a feature film. It was very ambitious but a great experience. We pulled in some past students that helped out tremendously and I think we have a film we can be proud of - a classic high school drama where the students have to overcome some differences and challenges in order to put on a show.
What was your role in this ambitions project?
During the production phase, I was a camera operator and co-director. I had just bought a new Black Magic camera and I put it to the test. With a dedicated lighting crew in the Hall, we managed to capture some beautiful shots. Now it is down to editing and I am in charge of pulling all the edited scenes together and making it work as a whole.
What has been the best thing about the experience?
To create a film about WAVE with lights and hand-built sets and a crew. This year we were given time and resources to put some fine scenes together.
What was really hard?
Getting the dialogue right. Our actors were amazing, but it was a steep learning curve to direct and pull off dialogue. There was also a huge time pressure, as we had a big story with loads of actors and scenes.
What did you learn?
How to handle a bigger cast and work with multiple camera crews. Starting with the wide shots and working in on the closer shots was a great practical experience that I will incorporate into my future films.
Now you are in the editing phase and it is almost finished, how do you feel about sharing it?
Excited! Seeing the reaction of the community is going to be amazing after so many months of working with it. It was a very ambitious project and it is so hard to pull off a feature film project in a high school. So a bit of nerves. But mostly happy to see how people take it.
What can people look forward to in the film?
Crazy dance sections; high school drama; incredible costumes; great lighting and cinematography and some awesome acting.
Are you interested in filmmaking as a profession?
When can we see it?
We are aiming for March 31. The plan is to host an online premiere so stay tuned for details in the Shearwater newsletter.
Every afternoon, rain or shine, you will find our Class 7 students out by the Kindergarten buildings planting, mulching, shovelling chatting and (hopefully) sweating as they play their part in the decades-long bush regeneration project that has transformed the School's degraded creek-side and agricultural land into a wildlife refuge.
"The students are learning how to address climate change by increasing the carbon-capturing capacity of the soil," said project coordinator and bush regenerator Nadia de Souza Pietramale. "We are using the school grounds as a giant class room, in which computers and books are replaced with wheel barrows, and shovels."
The students get out their gumboots and gloves every afternoon after lunch, for more than an hour of planting with the help of their teachers and the School bush regeneration team. The ongoing management of the reforestation of the School grounds is a huge job that is supported by the school administration.
"All planting and maintenance of the trees follows sustainable, organic and biodynamic land management principles," said Nadia.
The Primary School swimming carnival on Monday was a great success, with plenty of games for the younger children in the morning, followed by the upper Primary races in the afternoon. Class 1 to 3 students enjoyed the Crystal Dive, the Kick Board Dash, the Dragon Noodle Boat Cruise and the Hoop Obstacle Swim, as well as lane swimming for the capable swimmers in Class 2 and 3.
There were some tired faces by the end of the morning, as Class 1 to 3 headed back to school and the upper Primary students took their place in the pool.
The continuous relay was a fabulous demonstration of participation and enthusisam as every student hit their pace in the pool, followed by the 50m freestyle and breaststroke races. The enthusiasm was contagious with almost every student entering a race. The grand finale was the teachers' race. Class 5 teacher Nick Vuorinen was awarded the blue ribbon, with just enough time for some games before we wrapped up the carnival and headed back to school.
Thank to all the staff and students for another fabulous fun-filled sports event.
Primary School Coordinator
Hummingbee Kindergarten was buzzing with excitement during our orientation last week, as the children enjoyed a lovely puppet show story and explored their inside play space, while their parents got to know each other, fluffing and puffing wool fleece and stitching their rest time pillows.
As the days go by, friendships are forming and the children are learning to share and care for their Kindy play things while they build cubbies, castles, buses to ride on, farmlands for the animals, cafes and homes for the dollies and much more.
We have celebrated our first birthday, and the children’s clever hands have been drawing colourful pictures, winding wool to make art folders, painting and baking buns together.
Outside, the children have been busy exploring our garden. They are loving finding grasshoppers and caterpillars and watching the bees collecting pollen, as well as discovering tasty white mulberries, cherry tomatoes and mint to eat. They are challenging themselves on the monkey bars and wobble bridge, building sand castles and waterways, baking sand cakes and digging in the mud pit making “concrete” for their roads.
Everyone loves taking care of our little guinea pig sisters, Ginger and Blueberry, who are also enjoying the gentle cuddles and hand feeding.
We are all looking forward to many many more happy days together!
Hummingbee Kindergarten Teacher
The faces of our Primary School's newest arrivals said it all last week as they "crossed the bridge" to big school, filled with a mix of excitement, nerves, pride and anticipation. Each Class 1 child was met by a student from our graduating class, bearing the gift of a sunflower, as they crossed the threshold between Early Childhood and the formal learning environment of Primary School
Board members after their last meeting for 2020 (absent Josh Rushton)
Ideally, if all is going well, the Board doesn’t need to actually DO all that much within the School. Instead, the Head of School and the Business Manager are responsible for orchestrating the doing within the School and it is the Board's responsibility to oversee that.
The Board’s main role is to employ the Head of School and the Business Manager, and then monitor the performance of both. This governance role ensures that what is happening within the School is in alignment with the school’s mission, strategic plan, values and objectives, and also that it is financially viable, and educationally and legally compliant in accordance with the various regulations incumbent upon all registered schools and not-for-profit organisations.
To fulfil this role, the Board meets with the Head of School and Business Manager regularly throughout the school year. The Board also has representatives on various school committees, including the Finance Committee and the Planning and Development Committee. In a practical sense, the Board also does a fair amount of reading, reviewing of financials and asking of questions, as all new and amended School policies, as well as all major decisions within the School, whether strategic or financial, need to be approved by the Board.
Have more questions about the School Board? Click here to see all Ask the Board questions to date.
This term, we bid a formal farewell to our Class of 2020 as their high school journey drew to a close. Despite COVID restrictions limiting numbers, the Year 12 Farewell Assembly and Formal were joyous celebrations of this wonderful group of young people.
The Year 12 Formal was a huge success with students, staff and the families of our Year 12 students enjoying the picturesque Mavis’ Kitchen at the foot of Mt Warning. Thanks to Allegra for organising our tables and creating our beautiful name tags; to Sharon and Peter for the beautiful food we all enjoyed; and to James for assisting in the formalities of our celebrations.
As a community, we are proud of the achievements of the graduating class of 2020: their various successes in a wide range of pursuits; the manner in which they embraced the challenges encountered; their positive attitudes; willingness to give things a go; flexibility, resilience and courage. Their growth throughout their journey at Shearwater and the manner in which they have risen above the significant challenges of 2020, are to be commended.
As they finish their formal years of education and their time at Shearwater, we know this class of young poeple will go on to live extraordinary lives, making a positive difference to those around them and the world in which they live. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours. In the words of Rudolf Steiner, Our greatest endeavour must be to develop free human beings, who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Praba Manning & Luke Wigmore
Year 12 Guardians
Our Year 11 Camp at Lake Arragan this term was exactly what the group needed for our final camp together. It was the perfect balance of challenging physical activities, quiet personal reflection and fun time together around the camp site.
The group maintained their enthusiasm for all the activities on offer - scuba diving, mountain bike riding, canoeing, leadership challenges and personal exploration and goal setting. We are enormously proud of this class and feel privileged and blessed to have shared this time with them.
Sandra Bain and Endre Kvia
Year 11 Guardians
This year, our Class 3 farmers milled a record 21kg of finest biodynamic flour from their wheat harvest, to be baked into bread next week.
The wheat seed, received from the Class 4 students at the Primary School's Autumn Festival, was planted and tended as part of the Class 3 farming curriculum. This season marks the third in which the crop has been sown from Shearwater's own seed bank.
Special thanks to Sally Davison who donated the stone mill (pictured above).
There are many things growing and changing Here at Birdsong Kindy.
We have been lucky enough to have had many caterpillars weave their green and gold cocoons and have seen the Monarch butterflies as they emerge and take their first flight.
Merrily Magpie's babies have been growing bigger and more confident, singing loudly in our garden and and beginning to search for their own food, while Merrily watches on.
Our Blossom Babies have been sewn with care; our turtle shells have been finger knitted and woven; and of course our turtles have grown and changed as we have fed them into plump young hatchlings ready for their own adventures in Mother Ocean.
And of course the Kindy children are growing and changing too, as we prepare them for their summer festival and ceremony and transition into Class 1.
What a wonderful year it has been. I look forward to hearing stories of the many adventures of Class 1 and beyond.
Birdsong Kindergarten Teacher
Class 7 recently went on their final Primary School camp. It was with jubilation that restrictions were lifted and we had the opportunity to continue with the tradition of fantastic camps at Shearwater. Although shorter and closer to home than past Class 7 camps, this was no exception.
The two classes came together with the intention of fostering new friendships and getting to know their future Class Guardians. We had a wonderful campsite at Lake Arragan and, after setting up our tents, we got on with the business of weathering storms, facing physical challenges, eating lots of wonderful food and reapplying sunscreen.
Shearwater has many aspects that make it unique but one of the standouts certainly has to be the camps, creating fond memories for our students and graduates.
The benefits of the situated learning that forms this aspect of an outdoor, hands-on curriculum are so valuable and can be readily measured by the social health of the group and smiles of the participants.
Watching students immersed in nature while learning together is a tremendous highlight for a teacher and now, standing at the end of our seven-year journey, I give thanks not only for the wonderful students of Class 7 but also for Shearwater, for placing an emphasis on a living curriculum. I also acknowledge my wonderful fellow teachers and a further note of appreciation goes to the planners, shoppers and parents who provided lovely food, as well as to Nick Thorne and Venessa Skye who went above and beyond to help this camp run smoothly.
Shearwater's Primary basketball teams headed down to the NCIS regional carnival in Coffs Harbour, where around 120 students from independent schools across the region (Tweed Heads to Coffs Harbour) enjoyed the perfect conditions and the friendly competition.
It was a big day, with an early start and a long drive at either end. The students played four matches each but their enthusiasm never flagged - losing or winning, they were having lots of fun! They were a joy to watch, with a great improvement on last year, almost making it through to the finals.
We thank all the staff, parents and students for their support, especially Anthony Hack for his decicated training of the girls' team throughout the year.
Our participation in NCIS events has finished for this year. Well done to all the participants for their enthusiasm and sportsmanship.
Clockwise from top
Overall Grand Winner (Gold Sponsor - James Hardware Mitre 10 Mullumbimby)
Rider of the Atmosphere by Year 7 student Aniella Lev
Director's Prize (Silver Sponsor - Fuji Xerox Business Centre Northern Rivers)
Invitation to Wonderland by Year 9 student Tiehj Kerry
Most Creative Use of Materials (Bronze Sponsor - Baxter & Jacobson Architects)
Dame of the Dragon by Eloise Galea
Winner Section 1: Ride Like the Wind (Silver Sponsor - Chincogan Real Estate)
Aeras by Year 9 student Radha Hamilton-Young
Winner Section 2: Met Gala @ the House of Dragon Five (Silver Sponsor - Chincogan Real Estate)
Princess Kiyohime by Year 9 student Ishtar Dempsey
Winner Section 3: Paint the Sky with Stars (Mayor's Office Byron Shire Council)
Starry Night Shroud of Van Gogh by Maggie Wretham
Winner Section 4: Suitably Splendid (Silver Sponsor - Fuji Xerox Business Centre Northern Rivers)
Cirque de la Suite by Susan Germann
Winner Section 5: Emergency Transformation (Gold Sponsor - James Hardware Mitre 10 Mullumbimby)
Emerging Woman by Year 9 students Thandi McAllister, Coco Best & Lalita Ali
Student Encouragement Award (sponsored by Shearwater Alumni)
Meliorism by Year 10 student Adrianna O'Donovan
We love seeing our Shearwater graduates come back, and over the years we have seen many ex-students return to the School to support WAVE, as competition entrants, judges, production assistants, performers, stage crew and to work on props and sets. This year, however, we had an award sponsored by Shearwater graduates for the first time.
Analise Denney (owner of Sonder Intimates), Millie Hartigan (owner of The Lacuna digital marketing), Roslyn Barnett (owner of R’Oil) and Shantih Duvel (owner of Silience Design Studio) graduated in 2014 and have maintained strong relationships with the School and staff since. These amazing young women have all started their own small businesses and have teamed up as an alumni collective to give back to the School and support this year’s WAVE competition.
“After participating in WAVE throughout our high school years at Shearwater, we felt honoured to be able to come together as a group of alumni and small business owners to support the next generation of creatives at Shearwater," said Millie.
Selecting the recipient of the Student Encouragement Award was a challenging task, due to the standard of work this year. Adrianna O’Donovan’s work Meliorism (the belief that the world can be made better by human effort) was chosen for its skill and technique. "The handmade chainmail was executed to an extremely high standard and the beautiful embroidery was a great touch.”
Congratulations to Adrianna and all of the winners, and a huge thank you to Analise, Millie, Roslyn and Shantih, and to all of our amazing sponsors, for their support in our extraordinary 20th year of WAVE.
Southern Cross University’s Head-Start program provides an opportunity for students to gain direct entry and advanced standing into a variety of courses. Two of our Year 11 students successfully completed the program this year - Alfie Miller-Sharp completed Visual Communication and Design and Louca McAllister completed the Australian Legal System. The students were unable to attend the graduation ceremony, so we had our own here at Shearwater, complete with caps and (biodegradable) confetti. Congratulations Louka and Alfie!
Always Was, Always Will Be was the overarching theme for NAIDOC Week 2020 – an opportunity for us to share with the children and young adults in our care that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
The Shearwater school community came together to acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be spiritually and culturally connected to this country.
What does culture mean for us today was the question posed by our guides, Mudjai and Djuaan. Key themes emerged based on connection to the land and the seasons, our shared caring for place, and a deepening of the understanding that the very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples. With these themes as a thread, the entire school embarked on a week of creativity, sharing in the realms of painting, singing, storytelling and dance.
A whole school gathering at the beginning of the week set a reverent and respectful tone, as a rainbow serpent of children, led by the Shearwater Kinship group, weaved through the School bringing everyone together. A fire lit in the amphitheatre would burn for the entire week until the whole school gathered again on Friday to present their artistic offerings and dance up the energy shared over a week of creative collaboration.
Children from early childhood through to the young adults of Year 11 honoured the First Nations custodians of this place as misty rain added to an atmosphere of respect and hope. Finally, the rain, the seasons, the water ways, the ocean and the creatures sustained by these sacred systems unique to this place were celebrated in dance and song in a cacophony of rhythm and exuberance.
Shearwater Mirrabooka Group
We are all so happy to be back at Playgroup. It is wonderful for the parents to be able to come together again, sharing the challenges and joys of their parenting journeys and realising they are not alone.
Term 4 is an important term with some of the children showing readiness for Preschool - packing up the toys is done with gusto, as is setting up for juicy fruit time, and our little cottage is full of big, strong voices, singing, telling stories and sharing the events of the week. Some of the older children are creating little puppet shows themselves, retelling our much-loved Playgroup stories and bringing some of their own.
In these last weeks of the term, we are going for little walks over to the Farm and to Preschool, in order to familiarise the children who will be taking their first big steps away from home next year. It is wonderful to see these older children helping the little ones, building a train track, packing up or simply nursing one of the babies.
We are all very busy, with some wonderful toys being created by the parents, such as this little wild Brumby (pictured above), made with hand-felted fleece. One of our fathers brought in some little pots and soil, so the children could take rosemary cuttings from our garden to grow at home and remember Playgroup by.
Our first painting activity for spring combined lemon yellow and cobalt blue to create green. The children added leaves, grasses and flowers, collected from our garden, and laid it all out on the wet paper before painting over and around the plants, to create lovely shapes and patterns.
It is a bittersweet time as some of us will soon say goodbye. But I am always happy to have a visit or a wave over the fence. Seeing the little bright faces ever so proudly going off to Preschool is a gift in itself.
Painting by Year 8 student Tex O'Donnell
Generally speaking, a school board is responsible for the Governance of the School. Basically, this means the board oversees the performance of the school including the school’s management and the school’s financial performance. A school board is also responsible for maintaining the school’s mission, values and objectives.
The Shearwater School Board guides the School management to ensure decisions made are aligned with the School’s mission, values and objectives, whilst ensuring financial viability, educational and legal compliance. Last but not least, as Shearwater is an incorporated not-for-profit organisation, it must by law have a constitution (aka rules) and the Shearwater Constitution requires our School to have a Board.
Have more questions about the School Board? Click here to see all Ask the Board questions to date.
Our Main Lessons have accommodated change and growth for this group of children. One could say that the children grow into knowing and valuing their place in the world - family, school, community and this place we live.
At the start of the second semester, we began with ordering numbers according to their place value. This takes some organisation but, thanks to Granny Barrot’s Carrots, a carrot farm with a packing shed, sorting is not a problem. Boxes of 100s, 10s and singles are ready every day for market, with the tally person keeping clear and accurate account of all those carrots.
Following on was a Science and Literacy lesson in the wonderful world of the water cycle. From clouds growing heavy and raindrops tumbling down to earth, to flowing rivers meandering out to sea, to mist and fog and a languid lagoon, Dripple Drop is once again fanned back up to Father Sun by the Sunlight Dancers, only to once again help form clouds and fall to Mother Earth.
We then returned again to the world of numbers and the four processes. Four Friends meet under a big shady tree to tell their stories and teach each other about their different tasks in the world. One is always sharing, one giving away, one putting into groups, one adding up or collecting, only to share amongst friends.
From the much-loved animals stories, which we continued from earlier in the year, we ventured into the literacy Main Lesson, Brave and True Will I Be, which not only looked at word families, but also people who had to develop courage and determination to make a change in the world: Francis and Brother Wolf; Joan, a farm girl who led the French Army; George, who fought the Dragon and Wiseone and the Sword of Light. From these and many others, we sought inspiration and wonder.
As we continue our counting and tables, our home readers and our painting and modelling, we are ending the year with Stories of India and our class play, the Story of Rama and Sita.
Changing classrooms in weeks to come means only one thing, we are getting ready to start Class 3!
Congratulations to our 2020 Student Representative Council, Anouk, Olive & Ella (Year 8); Solly, Jimmy & Thandi (Year 9); Flynn & Noni (Year 10) and Charlotte & Tashi (Year 11).
This year our SRC were very constructive given the restrictions of COVID. They stayed in a positive frame of mind and went on to create several initiatives which all came to fruition. This included the re-painting and upgrade of the High School toilets, the addition of much needed seats and benches in the Year 8 and 9 areas, as well as getting bubblers repaired and working after COVID closures. Many thanks to the fantastic maintenance crew, Lee, Simon, Beau, Paul and Greg with whom they worked.
© Shearwater The Mullumbimby Steiner School