A day at the museum proved a great way for Year 6 students from Sydney Catholic schools to learn more about the transition to high school and connect to their Indigenous culture.
The group of 27 students learnt basket weaving techniques, traditional dances and gained advice from a panel of four high school students on how to thrive next year as part of a leadership day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. They also visited the museum’s First Australians galleries where they saw objects including spears and canoes displayed as part of the Bayala Nura: Yarning Country and Garrigarrang: Sea Country displays.
“The secondary students spoke to the others about the transition to high school and their leadership role as Year 6 students,” said Aboriginal Education Officer at the Catholic Education Office Sydney, Elizabeth Burke. “There were some myth busters, so they learnt what was and wasn’t true about going to high school.”
It showed us not to be afraid and to just be yourself.
At a final session with an Indigenous education group and Yuin elder Uncle Max Harrison, students were invited to look at the trees in Hyde Park and appreciate them for the knowledge they hold and the oxygen they provide. Like the trees, the students were encouraged to put down roots at high school next year by making new friends and new connections to teachers, subjects and culture.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary Waterloo student Jamie Anderson, 11, will attend St Clare’s College Waverley next year.
It’s kind of the opposite of primary school. It’s really different,” she said. “I learnt just to be yourself, try your hardest and be safe.
“There were a lot of exciting things downstairs in the museum, kangaroo skin and boomerangs and things like that. It was a really good experience, especially for the younger kids who are going to high school next year. It showed us not to be afraid and to just be yourself.”
Kye Astin, 12, from All Saints Catholic Primary Liverpool said the high school students told him to expect harder work, and new friendships. “They gave me the advice to be brave and don’t be scared to make new friends,” he said. “We got to learn about our culture and things that were used in back days.”
Jaxon Powrin, 12, from St Therese Catholic Primary Sadleir-Miller said at least 20 different mobs were represented among his peers at the event. “I think it was cool because we were learning about our culture and about the trees – that they’re not just things that grow out of the ground, they provide oxygen for our bodies and they help us live.
“Also, that when you get to high school you’ve got to venture out and be yourself, you just don’t be anyone else that you’re not, and have fun and make new friends.”
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington students Shannon Lo, in Year 8, and Shannel Ryan-Last, in Year 9, were among a panel of four high school students who told the Year 6 participants in the day what they could expect next year at their new schools.
Shannon said she had told students to be themselves and be confident. Shannel said the panel fielded questions from the Year 6 students. “They asked us if we enjoyed it and what they could do to prepare,” she said. “We shared some advice – to always go to school, that you can’t really miss a day, to prepare for exams, and don’t leave things until the last minute.”
Students from the following schools attended:
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary Waterloo, St Vincent’s Catholic Primary Ashfield, St James’ Catholic Primary Glebe, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Belmore, St Pius Catholic Primary Enmore, St Christopher’s Catholic Primary Holsworthy, All Saints’ Catholic Primary Liverpool, St Therese Catholic Primary Sadleir-Miller, and St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary Lurnea.