Our new junior High School basketball team took a great leap forward this term by signing up for the winter competition run by Basketball Byron at the Cavanbah Centre. They play every Wednesday after school. The team are still looking for some extra players so, if you're a basketball fan, or are keen to give it a try, come along and have FUN. Also, every Thursday from 4 to 5pm there is a free basketball training session at the High School ball court for students from Class 6 to Year 9. We thanks Josie Banens, for donating her time to organise the team.
There was sunshine, rain and some fast feet flying around Lennox Head recently, as Shearwater students raced in the NCIS Regional Cross Country Carnival.
It was the first year at a new venue with new event coordinators and the results indicate that Shearwater students approve of the sandy bush track. With over 40 students qualifying and 35 attending the day it was our highest level of participation on record. We had nine students qualify for the state championships, with three podium finishes! Isabella Devitt from Class 5 crossed the finish line 1st in the Girls 11 Year Old 3km race. Not too far behind her was Lani Goodwin in 3rd place. Charlie Heath smashed the Boys 13 Year Old 3km course coming 1st well in front of his competitors.
The Year 10 students and parents coordinated a catering tent for the day, raising money for their Vanuatu building project. A great effort for a great cause. Big thanks to Magnum for his enthusiasm and energy training the students before the day, and for some cool and calm coordinating on the day. Thanks to Djuann for assisting Magnum with student supervision. Thanks to Nick for coming early and staying late to help with the set up and pack down, and for sitting out on the track in the rain and mozzies all day. Thanks to Marcella and Nelle from my Year 11 PDHPE class who volunteered their time on the day and to Lee and Paul who travelled down to Lennox to help me with all the heavy lifting!
Thank you and congratulations to all competitors, it was great to see Shearwater students competing happily and healthy in an inter-school sporting event. Well done and best of luck to our state runners. Run Shearwater Run!
This term, our Year 11 Standard English students are studying Steven Herrick’s critically acclaimed verse novel ‘The Simple Gift’. The novel’s focus on homelessness and the disconnect between generations inspired students to compose imaginative and reflective pieces on these topics. Here is a selection...
T H E O T H E R S I D E O F T H E S T R E E T
by Tara Kyle
Many in our society have grown up seeing homeless people as dirty, lazy substance abusers. That picture might describe some homeless people, but each person has more to their story than what we see from the outside.
Homeless people live in most towns, big or small. They may choose to sleep on the street on a bench, visible and out in the open, or choose to be more secretive and avoid letting the outside world see where they live. Personal safety is a constant concern for a homeless person.
There are many reasons why people become homeless. It may be that there are not enough available jobs, inadequate income, high rental payments, issues with family or other relationships, or the person might be escaping domestic abuse, as is the case for many homeless women. In these instances, people are forced to leave home. In ‘The Simple Gift’, Billy needs to leave home in order to survive and, eventually, thrive.
In other cases, some people leave home to escape memories. Their home may hold too much sadness for them and they believe that leaving the memories behind and living a simpler life will be easier than having to face the past every day. Sometimes, however, having more time to dwell on their thoughts may result in them being stuck in a depressive head space. This can lead to an abusive relationship with substances that is not healthy for a person’s body or mind. Like Old Bill in ‘The Simple Gift’, they want to drown out the past in order to feel better, but doing this actually stops them from getting better.
Every person is an individual. Every person has different life experiences and a different story. So next time you’re walking along the street and see someone who is homeless, don’t be so quick to judge them on their appearance. Instead, take some time to consider all the possible reasons why they might be in that position and the hardships they might have gone through.
Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. – Rudolf Steiner
The Shearwater Senior Studies Certificate is an alternate pathway for Year 12 students, on offer at Shearwater. The program provides an opportunity for students to create and execute a self-directed project in an area of personal interest. Participants develop a project proposal, present their idea to a panel of peers and teachers, and work with mentors in the wider community, as well as School staff. Time management, organisation and communication skills are an important part of the learning process. Students must also document their project development in a process diary (see images above).
As well as their project work, Shearwater Certificate students must take a number of HSC subjects, including one of the English courses and two or three other subjects of their choice. They complete these subjects alongside their peers, including sitting any external exams and completing major works.
This year we have seven Year 12 students engaged in the Shearwater Certificate, developing a range of projects including: choreographing a ballet; designing a swimwear brand; creating a magazine; making a film; putting together a creative and performing arts portfolio; developing a business to raise awareness of, and funding for, youth mental health, and starting a free-range egg business.
Here are some of their reflections on the process thus far...
“The Shearwater Certificate is challenging because you have to manage your individual project and your other school subjects as well. It’s definitely not just an ‘easy option’ like some people think.”
“It’s a personal development project that gives you the opportunity to do something that you’re passionate about and interested in.”
“It offers you a taste of what life outside of school is like, through giving you independence and responsibility for your learning.”
“Being able to do a Shearwater Certificate has given me the opportunity to follow my passion, and it’s great to be able to have some guidance along the way."
“I like the fact that I get to use my imagination and make something good for others to be inspired by, and that I can share what I have learnt with others.”
“It really helps me get through school, doing something I enjoy and with a bit of extra pocket money and a wealth of information.”
The culmination of the year-long project is a presentation and display which will be held in the School Hall on October 23, 4.30-6.30pm. Please save the date and watch this space.
Year 12 Guardian
Over Easter, the students of Shearwater Steiner School's IT Multimedia and Photography classes gathered outside the media gates of Byron Bay Bluesfest. Nerves and excitement for what lay ahead pushed us forward into the festival, guided by our teacher Endre.
We collected our wristbands and prepared for our first experience in the pit at the media tent. As school students, we haven’t had much exposure to professional creative projects and we all gained insight and perspective into the realities of being a professional photographer. Our experience at Bluesfest was a priceless one that we will never forget, it inspired and evoked creativity within all of us.
We were sat down by David Harris, a music industry photographer since the 80s. He taught us some basics to the cameras and gave us a few personal tips. For example, he only uses AV (aperture value) when taking photos. The lovely crew around us all separated to different stages to capture the singers under the magnificent lights. What really sets the vibe of the atmosphere is the crowd screaming, dancing and cheering to their hearts' content.
The coloured stage lighting travelling through the dust and smoke added drama to our photographs. The smoke caused the images to appear full of energy and helped to diminish the hard shadows in the background, minimising the need for editing, other than a few touch ups using exposure and shadow tools.
As well as being able to experience taking photos of talented artists, we also had allocated free time when we were able to enjoy the music.
As one of the student media crew gushed: “Immersed within the crowd of people from all walks of life, the sound seems to connect and unite us. The music helps to remove any judgment or prejudice we might feel toward one another."
"As the sound emerging from the speakers vibrates my sternum and travels through me, I can’t help but feel at peace. Everyone is on the same wavelength, we are all touched by the sound waves of the same artist.
"Iggy Pop, at the age of 73, rocks the stage, for two whole hours - a powerful and emotional performance; creating an unforgettable atmosphere. The music is insane and Iggy Pop himself is an inspiration.”
Last term, our Year 12 Standard English students studied JK Rowling’s 2008 commencement address to the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. Titled The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, Rowling’s speech inspired the students to compose articles that explored issues they are passionate about. Here is a selection of their work...
T H E F E A R O F F A I L U R E
by Zali Spinner
For many young Australians across the country, Year 12 is a challenging and highly stressful time. Undertaking 13 years of schooling and then, at the very expiration, undertaking a series of cut-to-the-bone three-hour examinations, which will determine one’s future.
During the late teen years, students are often already on a rocky path through adolescence. On top of this, family and social obligations, part-time jobs, self-development and pre-existing mental health issues can impact on students’ wellbeing. Students are told that their future depends on one final number and this adds exponentially to the fear and pressure we are already experiencing.
A study conducted by the University of New South Wales shows that out of 722 HSC students across Sydney, 42 per cent admitted to high levels of anxiety, 16 per cent severe anxiety and 37 per cent with above average levels of stress, while more than 50 per cent said they felt there was too much expected of them in Year 12. Some students described their experience as “the worst year of my life” and “the stepping stone for stress”.
On a national level, it is estimated that 30 per cent of students suffer anxiety, stress and depression during the HSC. Around 200,000 students will sit the HSC exams per year. Some will pass with flying colours, some will ‘fail’ and some will dropout, while others will exit the race before it has even begun.
According to NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes, "The stress and anxiety levels that students are going through is phenomenal and the irony is that 40 per cent of kids are getting entry to university through the early entry scheme and other methods. It's been 50-odd years; it might be time for a bit of a change.”
Currently there seems to be a lot of negative media surrounding the HSC specifically, and the education system in general, and people are beginning to speak up about it. In 2016, 14 Year 12 students self-documented their experience throughout the whole year by taking daily video diaries. The final result was aired as a series on the ABC entitled My Year 12 Life. This shows a very raw reality that students are facing.
For years, the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking) has been perceived to be the ingress of tertiary education. Some students fear it is the only option or the only determination of whether they will get into their dream university or job. However, to help minimise the fear of failure and the heat of pressure around the HSC, universities are finally offering alternative entry points. In fact, the ATAR is becoming far less crucial and a variety of other options are becoming more prevalent such as school recommendations, early entry schemes and mature age entry schemes.
Sharna Clemmett, a barrister and high school 'drop out’ from Lismore, struggled in school, particularly throughout the HSC year, and made the decision to drop out of school halfway through Year 12. Her ‘failure’ made her depressed and she even contemplated suicide.
However, after reaching the age of 21, she was able to apply to university as a mature-aged student and begin her tertiary education in law. She has now been a barrister for more than 20 years. "It is important that kids get the message that the HSC is just a period in their lives, and there is a whole world after it”, she said.
Early this year, Stephanie McConnell opened the doors to Lindifield Learning Village, an alternative school from K to 12 in Sydney’s upper north shore. She describes it as a public school with no classrooms, school bells, year levels or exams “as we know them”. There are no formal year levels; however, students will progress according to their abilities and at their own pace. Instead of classrooms, learning spaces are described as “caves, waterholes, campfires etc". And instead of formal exams, students will be examined at individual times. "A student might choose a particular point in time when they feel they can demonstrate the learning required to meet a particular learning outcome," Ms. McConnell explained.
This may seem extreme; however, alternative learning institutions are on the rise. Since the school was announced, Ms McConnell said she “had witnessed a hunger in the community for a more individualised model of education” and has already received thousands of applications. The NSW Government is on board and has provided the school with funding of $40 million to start building. “We are on the verge of an education revolution,” says Ms McConnell. "I think what people are looking for is something that's not that lock-step sausage factory of the HSC.”
The reality is that one size does not fit all. Stephanie McConnell, among others, has realised this and has begun putting this understanding into action. The HSC and higher school system is tailored to a small percentage of learning capabilities. It does not address one’s abilities or skills as an individual, nor should it determine one’s future and I think people are beginning to acknowledge and realise that
Students should be encouraged by people like Sharna Clemmett, and reminded that ‘failing’ or struggling at school is not a reflection of one’s ability to succeed in the real world and school is not some sort of competitive race for their futures that they need to buy into. If students achieve the result or goal they had manifested, that’s great; but if they don’t, they need to know that there are multiple pathways for them to achieve their personal and educational goals that are not limited to their performance in a set of exams.
In preparation for the launch of WAVE 2019, The Girl with the Sun in her Face, there has been a flurry of excitement and activity behind the scenes as students from across the High School collaborated to create the singular image for this year's show. Year 9 and 10 Textiles and Design students designed and constructed the costume, modelled by Year 12 student Mayamoon, while Multimedia students captured the photo shoot on location at Brunswick Heads and contributed to the design of the poster.
Five senior Shearwater students were recognised for excellence in their fields of endeavour at the BASE Youth Leadership Men’s Awards last week, following on from the Women's Awards which took place earlier in the term.
Congratulations to Year 12 student Oliver Bora who won the Academic and Leadership Award, in recognition of the passion and hard work he has put into his school-based start-up, Oliver’s Hens, and his work with the Byron Youth Chamber of Commerce, as well as his commitment to changing the future of education by giving back and inspiring other students.
Congratulations also to Year 12 finalists Bodhi Kruse, and Oberon Marriott and Year 11 finalists Jarra Launer and Ashta Hall-Hart. Jarra, Bodhi and Oliver were all selected for the Community Service and Citizenship Award; Ashta was a finalist in the Sports Leadership Award; and Bodhi and Oberon were finalists in the Creative and Performing Arts Award, with Oberon receiving a special mention for his skills across a broad range of areas, including circus, music and drama.
The BASE Youth Leadership awards aim to empower young women and men in the Tweed and Byron Shires to strive for excellence through recognition, guidance and mentorship. At the awards breakfast it was great to see so many young men who are stepping up and doing wonderful things in the community, with finalists from 12 different local schools. Of the five awards categories, Shearwater had finalists in four.
We are very proud of all the boys and look forward to seeing them continue to do amazing things in our community.
Praba, Luke, Anna and Oren
Year 11 and 12 Guardians
While the Primary School was busily preparing for its annual Bush Dance last Thursday, students from years 8 to 11 were also out under the autumn skies, transforming the School grounds into an outdoor art gallery, as part of the High School's annual Site Day. This year’s event was titled Ephemeral Earthscapes: Pathways Back to Nature and was a celebration of autumn, art and nature. The rain held off and the sun shone, for the first year in memory.
Students created artworks across a range of mediums and within a variety of subject areas. There were animals made from recycled materials in a science class; blue and gold Art Nouveau-inspired shapes twirling in the wind; a giant mathematically-constructed geometric shape made from rope; a bamboo screen overlaid with a stencil design; a series of playful miniature worlds in hidden places, and some breathtaking works made entirely from natural materials, including plaited reeds, threaded leaves and flowers stuck to the muddy bank with tiny sticks. The knighted land art sculptor Andy Goldsworthy would have been proud.
Congratulations to all the students who worked so hard to bring their vision to fruition. In this technological time when we are often alienated from nature, it is important to have moments of connection with the natural world. At the end of this year's event, with dirty feet, sore legs and blisters on our hands, we were filled with gratitude for this place we are lucky enough to work and learn in every day.
Visual Art and Design Teacher
© Shearwater The Mullumbimby Steiner School