The Shearwater Certificate is a pathway offered to Year 12 students at Shearwater that provides an alternative to the HSC, allowing students the freedom to create a unique learning experience for themselves, following their passion and creating a project of personal interest. Do not let the word freedom fool you. The Shearwater Certificate is a rollercoaster ride.
This year there were five students who undertook the journey, Tula Tansley-Beckerman, Judah Tsadik, Gemma Susanna-Davies, Aurora Bodhivajra and Charli Gaiter-Thompson.
The learning that comes out of undertaking a year-long project is invaluable, and the skills these students have developed will serve them well in the future. They have learnt things no textbook can teach, and no exam can assess. They have learnt to believe in themselves, to communicate clearly, to think critically, to problem solve, to ask for help when it’s needed, to get up and keep going when things are hard, to support others and work together.
The Shearwater Certificate can be done as a 120 or 240 hour program, in conjunction with three or four HSC subjects. Year 12 is challenging at the best of times but I think we would all agree that this year has been particularly difficult. It has presented these students with new challenges, unique to these times. When they presented their proposals a year ago none of us knew what this year would be like, that we would have an extended lockdown and limited access to external facilities among many other things.
The students presented their work, comprising displays and speeches, last week, and although we couldn’t invites their families and community to the event, due to COVID restrictions, it was still a beautiful conclusion to the process. These students deserve to be congratulated and celebrated. They have demonstrated resilience and determination and I am so incredibly proud of them, and very grateful to have been part of their journey as their supervisor.
Shearwater Certificate Supervisor
Congratulations to Year 11 Textiles student Gypsy Hunter who was recently awarded third place in the Senior Category of the international Wool4School student design competition. Entrants were asked to design an outfit, made primarily from wool, which was versatile, protective, dynamic and functional, to aid in commuting and traveling, under the theme ‘Wool on the Go’.
The SRC have been up and running through Semester 2 and despite lockdowns, we have been able to do some leadership workshops, establish what we love about the school and also work out what we want to see improved and how we might help make that happen. Many ideas have been discussed such as dress code, student events, classroom comfort, better signage and wellbeing services. Small actions have been taken to help make sure students' voices are heard and supported. One issue we discussed was the number of students coming to school without breakfast. The solution — Breakfast Club!
We canvassed teachers that had experienced breakfast clubs at other schools to find out what worked and what didn’t. The SRC developed a survey which was filled in by over 70 students. The results surprised everyone. On that particular day, we found that just under half of our students were coming to school without breakfast. The reasons ranged from having to leave too early for the bus, to making them feel sick on the winding road to school, through to being in too much of a hurry, forgetting or just not feeling like it first thing. Some were getting something at school if they had time but many buses arrived too late to go to the canteen and some students didn’t have money with them. That very afternoon, after tallying up the surveys, we heard that due to staff shortages, the canteen would not be opening the next day. Breakfast Club (and now Lunch Club) were going to have to happen very quickly!
We purchased supplies that afternoon and had some basics ready to go at 8.30am the next day. Toast, tea, cereal and fruit were all on the menu. At lunchtime, the cooking elective baked some sausage rolls and pasties we were able to give out to those who were hungry or hadn’t brought lunch. We managed to do this for each of the three days the canteen was not able to open. Over 100 students accessed the service each day and overall it seemed a great success.
The SRC would like to thank James and all the teachers and students who supported them to make this idea a reality in such a short timeframe. The canteen will be open every day between now and the end of term and the SRC will take on board all that was learnt from the trial and see if it’s something they will propose in some form next year. In the meantime, it’s a good reminder to make sure students are coming to school with food in their bellies ready to learn, and with enough food to last them for the day. We are lucky to have such a wonderful canteen and thank Steve and the crew for the wholesome and affordable options they provide every day.
Sarah Ndiaye and the SRC
Our Class 7 students had the opportunity to experience the illustrious silk paintings and picture books of local author and illustrator, and former teacher, Kim Toft, this term.
Kim guided the class through the process of story-boarding, providing inspiration for the classes' Indonesian assessment task, in which they are creating an advanced pictorial based on the life of a family member of their grandparents' generation.
LOTE Indonesian Teacher
It’s a wrap! Another wild ride on the WAVE magical carpet. Somehow at this supremely unpredictable time on our planet, we managed to pull off another incredible Wearable Arts performance event last week.
Although it was disappointing not to have our sponsors, families and other members of our community here to see the show in person, the footage is in the editing suite as we speak, and we hope to be able to release the video of the event by the end of term. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, we hope you will join us in applauding our wonderful winners. We had so many students get involved in this year’s costume comp and the judges professed their job was not an easy one!
The winners of WAVE 2021: My Message to You are:
Overall Grand Winner
Gold Sponsor James Hardware Mitre 10, Mullumbimby
Mixed Messages by Susan Germann
Silver Sponsor Chincogan Real Estate, Mullumbimby
Help by Jimmy & Milika (Year 10 Shearwater)
Section 1 (My Message to You) Winner
Silver Sponsor Crystal Castle
Alien Princess to Earth by India Giannoni (Year 12 Shearwater)
Section 2 (Silhouette Creations) Highly Commended
Sponsored by Mullum Co-op
The Bitch by Ruby, Aneeka, Marley, Gemma, Marco & Scarlett (Year 9 Shearwater)
Section 3 (How I Feel) Winner
Silver Sponsor Crystal Castle
High Priestess by Tiehj Kerry
Section 4 (Horns, Helmets and Masks) Winner
Bronze Sponsor Westpac
Horndusa by Eloise Gallea
Section 5 (Flora Fabulous) Winner
Bronze Sponsor Tinker, Tailor, Dancer, Trader/Archer The Store
Gondwana Reverie by Rosie Hamilton
Sponsored by Mullumbimby Chamber of Commerce
Shining Knight in the Mist by Marshall Peach
Warrior by Junah Robins (Year 8 Shearwater)
Creative Use of Materials
Bronze Sponsor Baxter & Jacobson Architects
COVID Waste by Maya Chaffer (Year 8 Shearwater)
Student Encouragement Award
Bronze Sponsors Westpac & Tinker, Tailor, Dancer, Trader/Archer The Store
Encrusted by Olive Morris (Year 9 student)
Message from Water by Hannah McIntyre (Year 7 Shearwater)
Exhaustion by India, Zoe, Anouk & Zemmer (Year 9 Shearwater)
Fighting Flames by Anouk, Darcie, Lekha, Amani, Grace, Scout & Natasha (Year 8 Shearwater)
Last term, our Year 12 Modern History class took a trip down to Coffs Harbour for an HSC study day. After learning so much rich content over the course of this year, it was important for us to go and cement our knowledge and see it all from different perspectives.
We woke up very early and began our drive as the sun rose. As a small class of four students, this was a great opportunity to create lasting interpersonal bonds; which were only strengthened on the six hours we spent on the road.
While attending the various seminars, we were able to interact with other Modern History students and discuss our opinions on the impending HSC exams (and share our nerves!). We attended several lectures on the units we had previously studied with Nikki; including Japan, Germany, the Atomic Age, and the Conflict in the Pacific. The lecturers were eccentric, to say the least, however they provided many helpful tips on study habits and marking criteria, along with a range of key points about our units of study.
After the lectures, we took a brief detour to visit the heart of tourism in Coffs Harbour — The Big Banana! This was a little element of fun intertwined into a generally serious and studious day. Despite being a long day, this excursion was educational and useful to us as Modern History students. It was an opportunity to bond with Nikki and each other, and to revise material that may have been less prominent in our minds over the course of this information-dense year.
As we draw towards the end of our Guardianship with our class, we have been reflecting on the highlights, achievements and challenges with this group of young people that we have had the privilege of sharing five years of schooling with. Adolescence is a time of transition and we as teachers grow and change along with our students and with the world they are growing into. This class is one of immeasurable ability, abundant emotions, diverse perspectives and enormous talent. We feel deeply connected to them as individuals and as a group, and will carry them in our hearts into the future.
When we started on this journey with the class we chose three virtues that we envisioned would be our tools to support the needs and challenges that we would face – enthusiasm, courage and connection.
Enthusiasm has been with us from the beginning — gifted from their Primary Class Teachers – Sally, Susan and Lynne – they were children that loved what they did and did what they loved. This was particularly apparent when we were on class camps, whether it was canoeing down the Clarence River, circumnavigating Uluru or constructing a beautiful building in Vanuatu — this class took it all on with enthusiasm.
Courage is called upon every day, as they face the rewards and challenges of whatever comes towards them and remain true to their inner direction and higher selves. Above all they have the courage to be themselves and therein lies a power that will carry them towards their dreams and aspirations.
This courage also opens up a beautiful array of connections, with each other and with the world. We feel blessed to be a part of their journey and our friendships will live on. As a class and as individuals they will arrive at the end of their schooling with so much more than a certificate — they have loving connections to each other and to the whole school community.
Class 12 of 2021 are now young adults, with questions of their own destiny and future tasks in life to ponder, we trust that their Steiner education will serve them well as they step into their futures and a world still full of possibilities.
Sandra and Endre
Year 12 Guardians
We were contacted by Byron Shire Council recently and offered the opportunity to feature the artworks of our some of our amazingly talented High School students as part of a street art project. The theme was people and places of the Shire. The current COVID lockdown has prevented the opening celebration from going ahead. But the artwork is up and it looks great. So next time you're in town, stop and have a look. You will see these masterpieces, created by students from Years 7, 8 and 9. Congratulations to Zen Giannoni, Maya Chaffer, Sol Bailey, Macushla Bere, Aimee Green, Zoe Newell, Ella Bowen Piercy, Zemmer Arbiv and the Year 8 collective, and thank you for sharing your creative work!
We feel so grateful to have had our Class 7 Dance main lesson at the start of this term. There's something special about dancing together that can't be easily replicated on Zoom! Hopefully our Class 7s are taking the skills they learnt and teaching their families some new moves during this latest lockdown.
The lesson was divided into three parts — theory, choreographed dance and fitness. Clare looked at various forms of dance from a theoretical perspective, focusing on Hip Hop. William took the fitness, stretching and strength-building component, and Renee helped the students choreograph a dance in small groups. She was ably assisted by India Grant, a former Shearwater student and dance teacher who has recently returned from working in London.
The highlight of the lesson was a performance of choreographed pieces in small groups. According to Renee, “The Year 7 group had an outstanding dance performance. We were blown away with their enthusiasm, attitude and group camaraderie. Each group choreographed their own expression of dance, which highlighted their strengths of creative thinking and working so well together. A massive congratulations to all of those who gave it a go, and in turn, realised they have got the groove inside of them”.
Many thanks to Renee and India, and to all the students who dared to bare their souls and dance with such grace, beauty and courage. As we reflect on the year during this challenging period, this surely has been a highlight for many.
Class 7 Teacher
Our Year 10 students have recently spent a term investigating some of the chemical and physical properties of alcohol. At Shearwater, Year 10 chemistry is about demystifying this substance that many teenagers are rightfully intrigued by.
We began with grapes! The students spent a morning feeling what it might have been like in a rural village at grape harvest time. How many of us have the opportunity to feel grapes between our toes? The strong inner structure of the grape demands a lot of force to crush it. How much sugar do you think is in a litre of grape juice and how can you tell? To find out the students measured the density of the juice with a hydrometer and were surprised to find that their juice contained as much as 250g of sugar per litre. That’s a lot of sugar!
They added the fungus that we know as yeast and waited patiently for the fermentation to happen. Those little dry granules of yeast really didn’t look like mushrooms but they certainly transformed the sugar into alcohol.
No one was particularly impressed with the wine but then we weren’t stopping there, that was just a means to obtain a much purer sample. After understanding that alcohol and water have different boiling points they were able to fractionally distil a much purer alcohol sample. How pure? Well, to determine this they went back to density – that had worked for sugar. This time though they first needed to make an instrument that could float in the alcohol and calibrate it with solutions of known percentages.
Glass blowing the hydrometer was a challenge but fun regardless and they soon recognised their samples were between 80% and 90%.
What to do with this precious material? Burn a little of course! It burns with a beautiful ghostly blue flame – hard to see in the light. It was way too precious to waste it all like this though the thought of that did appeal to some students. We used the remainder to extract the essence from calendula flowers, exploiting the solvent and preservative properties of the material we were now calling ethanol, to make a tincture.
A project was beginning to take shape. What else do plants have to offer besides sugars? A walk around the farm took us to the herb and fragrance gardens and we came back with lavender, lemon myrtle and tea tree.
Using a steam distillation method we were now able to extract fragrant essential oils and hydrosols from the plants that might be useful in making a product.
Using some of the remaining ethanol and butyric acid (found in breast milk, parmesan cheese, body odour and vomit) we synthetically produced a chemical that smells like pineapple but in a ‘fake pineapple lolly kind of way’, according to one student. This really brought home why those little bottles of essential oils cost so much – ‘so many leaves distilled and so few drops of oil gained’ according to another. It also reinforced why cheap food and cosmetics used artificial flavours and fragrances. It was so easy and cheap to make so much.
After purifying some bees wax and learning about emulsions, we combined a high quality carrier oil with our wax, hydrosol, essential oils and calendula tincture to make a hand cream of the finest quality ingredients.
As for me, I love teaching this unit. It’s fun and it really looks like you imagine chemistry to look – lots of glass tubes with exotic liquids dripping from them. The students thought so too. We are slowly perfecting the hand cream, perhaps you’ll be the lucky recipient of a bottle sometime.
Dance has existed as a vital part of every known culture throughout time. It is a distinct form of nonverbal communication that uses the body as an instrument of expression, articulating the culture and society from which it emerges. In Year 9's recent Dance unit, we focused on Latin American Salsa and contemporary Hip Hop. We studied the different cultures these dances developed out of and linked the two through a growing understanding of the need for dance in oppressed societies, specifically Cuba and the Bronx in New York.
Learning to dance and learning through dance allows students to apply their own experiences through a different language. Students learn to express ideas creatively as they choreograph, perform, and analyse dance as works of art.
At Shearwater, we focus on three main strands through our schooling: beauty, truth, and goodness. Between the ages of 14 to 21 the focus of our education is truth. At this stage of development, we see in our young people a righteous indignation for the wrongs in the world, specifically when faced with injustice, unfairness, and hardships that they themselves may not have previously understood. Through the study of oppression in Cuba and African-American communities in the US over the the past 100 years, Year 9 have come to understand the power of dance and the freedom that it brings.
High School PDHPE
Our Year 11 Biology students recently conducted a field study at Flat Rock, with the data they collected used to complete a scientific report as part of their assessment. The students gathered information on ecosystems from the rocky foreshore. They collected abiotic and biotic data to determine the distribution and abundance of two chosen species.
High School Science Teacher
In the High School here at Shearwater, we strive to offer our students unique learning opportunities that go beyond the subject syllabus content and align with their stage of development. We know that the 14year-old is developing their sense of self and their capacity for thought. So, our Year 8 students engage in a personal interest project (PIP) and embark on an individual learning journey. This path of discovery enables them to feel a sense of ownership over their learning, as they follow their own passions and engage with the wider community, seeking mentorship from people with related skills and interests.
Students learn how to plan, research, execute and document a project. They learn the value of good time management and communication skills. They build resilience through sustained will activity and having to overcome obstacles. Currently we have many different projects on the go, due to be completed and presented on August 24th. These include a magazine, jewellery, tarot cards, clothes, a novel, books with illustrations and creative writing, a bed, a skateboard, a table, photography, painting, drawing, ceramics, a guitar, refurbished bikes, a bike ramp, learning new skills, a cookbook, a podcast, an online course, embroidery, farm renovation, a custom computer, a Lego diorama, a golf book, an environmental film, chest rub, a quilt, crochet, a bushwalk, a custom basketball jersey, a mirror and many other wonderful things.
As a teacher, it is very inspiring to see young people taking responsibility for their learning and working through challenges to find creative solutions. Although I look forward to seeing the finished products and hearing the students speak about their PIPs, the journey is so much more valuable than the end result. My hope for these amazing young people is that they learn from this experience and move forward with a stronger belief in themselves and their capabilities; that their love of learning is nurtured and that a curiosity in the world and connection to the community is fostered.
In the woprds of Rudolf Steiner, “our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility – these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
And, in the words of the students:
“I have found PIP really exciting and when I get past obstacles I feel a sense of accomplishment.”
“I tried something I wouldn’t have otherwise for PIP and I have really enjoyed it.”
“If you put so many hours into something you love it is worth it.”
“Getting everything together on time is a bit challenging but it’s a good experience for future events and teaches you to keep going when things are hard.”
Year 8 Guardian
Year 8 have been learning about energy this term in Science. This week, the students undertook a challenge to design a device that prevents heat transfer to the environment. Their goal was to keep 250ml of boiling water hot for a period of 20 minutes. Amazingly, none of the groups' water samples got below 70 degrees celsius, with the winning device keeping the hot water at a toasty 86 degrees. Well done to the class and to the master of
preventing heat transfer and overall winner, Junah Robbins.
Last week our Class 7 Japanese students performed two engaging Japanese stories: Warashibe Choja (The Straw Head Master) and Kasa Jizo (The Child God). Katsuko and the students created a truly Japanese aesthetic in the elegant presentation of these two profound Japanese fables about selflessness and taking care of each other. The students spoke beautifully in Japanese as two performers translated the text for the audience.
Complete with exquisite kimono and sadō (tea ceremony), the production provided the students an opportunity to engage deeply with traditional Japanese culture and history through storytelling.
The age of 13 is an important benchmark in human development. Class 7 marks the birth of the intellect, with the need to experience the world in a more complex way. With the development of the capacity for reason and objectivity, we see subjects reflecting this.
In Maths we have just finished a Main Lesson of Euclidian geometry, which is training the students to develop their critical thinking, in contrast to the more artistic geometry of the Primary School years. History and Geography expand horizons, bringing expansion and depth to their knowledge of the world: from Ancient China, to our study of the continents, coral reefs and rivers. Anatomy of the human being is a look inward, to objectively understand the mechanics of the skeletal system.
The students are beginning to embed themselves in the High School, a process that will be completed in Term 4 when the two classes will become one, and their new Guardians will replace the Class Teachers that have guided them through the Primary School years.
Outdoor education, organised sport, art and music are vital to the Class 7 curriculum and great outlets for the emotional upheavals of adolescence. 7W is beginning to prepare for a week-long bushwalk in Washpool National Park, a camp which 7C enjoyed last term. This will be a challenging hiking camp with all food and gear carried by the students.
In sport, we are preparing for inter-school soccer and volleyball matches, along with lessons in tennis and golf. The students are also enjoying our TAS subjects: metalwork, digital technology, fabric design (including learning to be proficient on a sewing machine), and are building skills which will be developed over their high school years.
Class 7 Teacher
Shearwater has made the switch to solar in a big way, installing a 99-kilowatt system to power the School into the future. The new system is part of a multifaceted approach to reduce emissions and improve environmental outcomes.
Head of School James Goodlet said the School’s existing 8kw solar array was failing and the time was right for a major upgrade.
“We had planned to install the panels in 2020. But with the onset of COVID-19 came financial uncertainty and a need to halt spending on infrastructure projects until we had a clearer picture of the impact of the pandemic.
“With the increase in electricity prices and the reduction in solar panel prices, came the opportunity to install now and make a quick enough return on our investment without a huge financial risk. We estimate the School will cover installation costs in four years. So it’s a win for the environment and a win for our finances.
“Shearwater has a long history of integrating the natural environment into our educational experiences and philosophy. There is a big push from students to make Shearwater a more sustainable place and it’s great that we’ve been able to support that vision with this project.”
The new solar array is made up of 242 solar panels, each producing 410 watts per module, creating the 99.22 kW system.
“Unlike a regular household, which is empty most of the day while family members are out studying or working, the majority of our power-usage happens during the school day, when our solar panels are hard at work. So on school days we’ll be using most of the energy we produce. On weekends and holidays, up to 60kW of energy will be fed into the town grid. The payment for this electricity produced will offset the cost of running data centres and refrigerators overnight when our solar system is not producing any power."
Importantly at this time of year, there are enough panels to take into account fluctuations caused by wet and cloudy weather.
While at this stage the school doesn’t have a specific zero emissions target, James said he was confident the School would continue the great work done by many passionate staff and students over its history.
“There has been much work done in this area already, with many great achievements, such as regenerative farming practices, waste management and the decades-long bush regeneration project that has seen the planting of more than 20 thousand trees, transforming degraded agricultural land into a thriving wildlife corridor.
“Our Class 7 students have recently finished planting over 700 native shrubs and trees, creating a small forest that they can watch grow over the years ahead. Every class across the School is given regular opportunities to help repair and restore the local environment.
"Climate anxiety is impacting on the wellbeing of many of our young people today. We want our students to know they can be part of the solution.”
This report was produced by Shearwater's Year 12 English Studies class
The Year 12 English Studies class have been learning about the key role language plays in shaping the way we view critical events, through coverage of news and current affairs in print, radio and television.
This week, we were lucky enough to have long-time local journalist Javier Encalada Querat from the Northern Star sharing his experiences in the industry, especially in these times of a shifting media landscape.
He told students everything from why it's important to have a good breakfast (because you never know when a big story is going to break), to what it was like being part of the first cohort of journalists to be trained in Chile following the Pinochet regime, right through to media ownership and staying aware of your own bias.
On Monday, the class went on an excursion to Bay FM where award-winning local journalist, Mia Armitage showed them the ropes at the station and gave them a chance to get behind the desk and record a news bulletin.
From here all students will be writing their own stories and working together on covering a local story. We thank Javier and Mia for their generosity and we look forward to being a bit more media savvy as a result.
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.
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
© Shearwater The Mullumbimby Steiner School