The Mirror News

Little school, big heart

• Welshpool and District Students with Principal Gabrielle Boyd, Russell Broadbent, Federal Member for McMillan, Mayor Ray Argento and Sue Plowright from Federation Uni.


WELSHPOOL and District Primary School held their Grade 4/5/6 Big Event on Wednesday November 1.

All visitors were warmly greeted at the gate by the students and led into the meeting room.

Sue Plowright, from Federation University has been working with the students once a week. The lessons have focused on the development of active listening skills, as well as the planning, rehearsal and delivery of a point of view, in an attempt to persuade the audience.

Content has also covered the teaching of ethical capabilities such as cultivating open mindedness and respect for others’ ideas and dispositions and the philosophy of ideas.

“In early 2016 a partnership with Federation University, Welshpool and District PS, Toora PS and the Toora/Welshpool Kindergarten was formed. This partnership focused on improving the oral language skills of children from birth to the end of primary school.

The Grade 4/5/6 Big Event is their journey in this partnership,” said Principal Gabrielle Boyd.

Students from Toora PS came along to hear all the ideas with the intention of taking what they learn back to their school.

“We hope to have Welshpool and District PS over to our big event in the future,” said Toora Principal Luke Haustorfer.

School Captains, Bree and Sofie then kicked off the proceedings by welcoming Mayor, Ray Argento and Russell Broadbent, Federal Member for McMillan.

Everyone was in for a treat as in pairs all the students stood up and spoke publicly about their dreams for a better future not just for their local area but also for the whole world.

Elsa talked about the speaking and listening group and how it all kicked off with a picture of a pale blue dot.

She explained how Carl Sagan, an American Professor, had asked NASA to turn Voyager around and take a picture of the earth from a long way away. It was this tiny blue dot.

“It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately toward one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known,” she said.

This was not just an academic exercise as one by one each student spoke about a variety of subjects.

They spoke about their wish that all children have food and water every single day.

They believe that everyone should have the life they deserve.

To narrow down the project they would all ultimately take on, they sat in a circle where they used the whiteboard marker as a ‘microphone’. When you said your idea the rest of the kids would twinkle their fingers.

One idea really stood out.

Isaiah came up with the idea that everyone should live a happy life before they died of old age.

“We don’t want anyone to be sad or depressed all the time. We want people to be mostly happy and cheerful,” they said.

“We don’t want anyone to die of cancer and other diseases and we certainly don’t want any bombings that kill many many people.”

Sophie Dixon, the Community Strengthening Officer for the South Gippsland Shire Council has been spending time with the students and through a process of writing on sticky notes they came up with ways to make the community in and around Welshpool better.

Banning smoking got the most votes with after school activities and free wifi closely behind.

Sophie explained to them that banning smoking wasn’t very plausible so they chose free wifi, which she said was plausible.

The students said they would love it if those in the audience could help them make it a reality.

A youth committee has been formed and they plan to tackle environmental issues like turtles and seals getting killed by plastic and wire.

They are also planning an arcade hangout area where milkshakes will be available during summer and hot chocolate in winter.

Thomas said there will also be an adult area where you will be able to get a cup of tea, coffee, espresso, double espresso, short macchiato, long macchiato, long black, café latte and finally a cappuccino. He had everyone laughing.

He and Charlie want to have a mud obstacle course and a cardboard boat race so that kids have something to do after school and on the weekends.

Michael and Jack want less exhaust fumes.

“We’re not saying don’t use your car because that would be annoying. Perhaps buy an electric car or ride your bike for short trips.”

Mayor Ray Argento told the children he would not have missed the opportunity to be there to hear their stories.

“Council is sitting today,” he said. “I put the Deputy into the chair so I could come down here.”

He said it was a great opportunity for council to understand and hear the views of the youth in the area.

“I can see some future leaders who could develop into young council people.

“If only I could speak as well as you guys when I first started in Council I might have got a few more things happening,” he said.

MP Russell Broadbent then gave a very entertaining talk asking if the kids could hear him all right through the ‘microphone’ (whiteboard marker).

He said public speaking was so important and praised them all for their articulate speeches.

“You expressed yourself so brilliantly after doing all that work.”

Gabrielle finalised the proceedings by saying if anyone could help the students fulfill their dreams and help out with the youth committee that would be amazing.

Each student received a certificate and then everyone enjoyed a lavish lunch.



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