Gifted program part of the plot in storytelling win

Zach O’Hara has a way with words.

The Year 6 student at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary Caringbah placed first in the 2017 NSW Storytelling competition with his work A bully is just another person in the crowd.

Run by the Australian Storytelling Guild NSW, the competition asks students in Years 5 and 6 to write an original short story and submit a video recording of themselves reciting their work between two and six minutes long.

Zach was shortlisted to recite his story live at the finals in Lewisham on June 17, and was awarded $150 prize money along with the winner’s title. Classmate Sienna Chamoun also received a highly commended for her story The Enchanted Staircase.

Zach is part of the Literacy stream of the Newman Selective Gifted Education Program run at the school, which caters for students who are gifted and talented in areas including Science, Mathematics, writing, literature, and Visual Arts.

In his complex narrative, he offers a tale about verbal bullying at school and the self-doubt that echoes the taunts.

“My story was about bullying and racism,” he said. “I wrote it because I’m very passionate about how we should stop bullying and racism and want to help.

I like the rewarding feeling after writing a good story and the process.

– Zach O’Hara

“It took a while to memorise it but writing it wasn’t that difficult. I felt really accomplished.

“It [the competition] was a really good experience and I hope that everyone else gets a chance to do what I did. It was really fun.

“I like the rewarding feeling after writing a really good story and the process, learning a lot and getting a larger vocabulary to help me later on in life.

“In class we learn a lot of structure and the seven steps to writing success.  It helps us a lot with NAPLAN and everything else.”

Newman and curriculum coordinator Jo Ford said judges were impressed with Zach’s ability to highlight an important social issue through storytelling.

“The feedback we received was that he presented in a very authentic, natural way and he had a very good topic to tell others,” she said.

“When students are engaged to work with like-minded peers in a complex program as in our Newman writing program, they have an opportunity to refine their skills to another level.

“The opportunity for them to work with other students who have that same area of passion and skill makes the program so valuable. Parents say to me it’s such a drawcard to have Newman at the school and to have the needs of their gifted children met.”

Our Lady of Fatima was the first Sydney Catholic school to be accredited within the Newman Selective Gifted Program and is now one of two primary schools who are part of the Newman expansion program.

The expansion program will introduce a selective test, held for the first time on September 12, and accompanying criteria for students identified as gifted and talented to enter into the program at high school level. Our Lady of Mercy College Burraneer and De La Salle College Caringbah both offer the Newman Selective Gifted Program.

Sydney Catholic schools were further represented in the storytelling finals by St Catherine Laboure Catholic Primary Gymea student Natasha Metlege, who placed third in the state-wide competition.

Our Lady of Fatima students who took part in the NSW Storytelling competition:

  • Stephanie Pederson, The Unknown
  • Sam Newton, Gassed
  • Oliver Randazzo, Memory
  • Jasmine Rose, Pretty Little Lies
  • Keira Howes, The Trip
  • Keira Salisbury, The Shattered Heart
  • Matilda Demetriou, Secrets
  • Matthew Nunn, The End
  • Alexandra Prior, Hiding
  • Aliya Murphy, Fugitive
  • Isabelle De Gioia, Fear
  • Jade Tattam, Lost in Fear


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s