An opportunity for our students to add their voice to Triple J’s ‘Hack’ program about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

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We were pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the producer of Hack on triple J:

“My name is Claire and I’m the Producer of Hack on triple j – Australia’s national current affairs program for young (16-30) people reaching one million listeners a week across the country.
We’re talking to one of the directors of the Netflix adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale on Monday and I came across your subject guide for the novel.
Would you have time for a quick chat about the work this afternoon? Margaret Atwood has said that “I made a rule for myself: I would not include anything that human beings had not already done in some other place or time, or for which the technology did not already exist.”
We’re keen to create a segment online and on-air about this – and I’d like to hear your thoughts.”

After a conversation between Claire and English teacher, Ms Amanda Carroll, students were invited to participate in the program. We thanked Claire for the opportunity for our students to be involved in this excellent radio program.

Listen to year 11 student, Hrishi Thatiot, speaking to presenter Sarah McVeigh on Triple J’s program for youth, “Hack”, about “The Handmaid’s Tale”, a text our year 11s are currently studying, and one which, although written over 30 years ago, is relevant to us today, and has been reinterpreted by SBS and is currently available for viewing. The presenter also speaks to the director of the TV show, and a climate futurist on food security. (Hrishi: 9.54 – 11.03).

Follow this link to listen to the podcast.

Year 9s raise the bar for poetry – slam!


Above: 9L Slam Poetry winners, Ivan and Yi Ming and their English teacher, Mr Mahoney

Yesterday Memorial Hall was host to  performance and celebration as the winning teams from each year 9 class amazed the audience with their Slam Poetry performances.

The judges were extremely impressed with the high standard of all teams’ poetry and their powerful renditions.


Runners up, the team from 9E (Ms Hamilton), performing Safwan’s poem

The winning team was 9L (Mr Mahoney’s class), followed by 9E (Ms Hamilton’s class) in second place and 9D (Ms Grimwade’s class) in third. The Best Individual Performance was awarded to Ivan Tat of 9L, and the Best Line was also awarded to 9L.

Poverty is the cracked lips of a boy, hands outstretched, eyes like a dead fish, …

There is so much to celebrate in the year 9 students’ poetry! I’d like to take the opportunity to share some of the poetry.

Standout lines from 9A:

A blind man will never know the colour of blue nor ever see the so-called ordinary hue

But he know he does not need to discover the new.

He’s surrounded like an animal in a zoo,

Caged by prejudice and stereotypes.

A slice of 9B’s offering:

Patriotism, loyalty: who do I please?

Lion Dairy, Abbey, and Colby: three types of cheese.

Which industry do I support?

Which farmer do I make abort?

An Irish cow, an Australian goat, an American sheep,

Which allegiance do I keep?

Or should I be like sister Tegan,

And just like her become a Vegan?

Powerful, dark lines from 9C:

His mind is out to kill him

So far his mind is winning

It sews his lips

Shuts his mouth

Beats him, blinds him from those who care,

Tying him down to the bottom of the ocean,

Drowning him

He can’t die

He can’t escape

He is drowning 24/7.

He’s been drowning since he was 11

Yet no one saw and we all breathed around him.

Powerful lines from 9D:

But why has our society become one where such people are glamorised and idolised

While teens are hurting themselves and hurting others over their own demise,

Because their waist size is over 26 inches, because their skin is wrinkled and because, unlike their role models

their looks aren’t stylised?

They think that, that is something to be ashamed about

It seems we regret celebrity influence upon teens,

The roots and trunk of our future, hollowed out like logs

To be only superficial and not care about what’s on the inside.

But our current generation can still be saved without doubt

If we look up to Mandela, Churchill and Malala

Instead of Minaj, West and Gaga.

From the runners up, 9E:

You may say that you wish to live forever,

That you wish to die never,

But our eventual passing is what gives our life its merit,

The looming presence of death is what motivates us to get out of bed each morning,

Because we may not always have a tomorrow,

The looming presence of death is what lets us perceive the true beauty of our lives,

The looming presence of death is what gives our life its momentum,

It is not the vindictive venom we make it out to be,

Can’t you see?

Death is what coerces us to be alive.

From 9F:

Until this day I never thought dragons existed…

… Yet today I found one, lips curled in a ferocious snarl,

dressed in a satiny carpet of brilliant, crimson scales, and with eyes…

… This dragon was none other than the one that dwelled within me,

the one which I have tried to subdue for so long.

It is eating me, chewing at the fibres of my identity.

This dragon’s name is Guilt.

From 9G:

I thought I knew who I was.

I thought I was that person who would always do well in school,

That person who should be popular and loved,

That person who could shove other people aside to get what he wanted,

The centre of the universe.

The world would revolve around the brightness of my glow and the other planets would looks to me with envy and greed,

knowing they could never reach me.

I knew who I was.

I was happy.

I was content.

I was frolicking inside the beautiful meadow in my little bubble,

skipping in time with the beat that had been set out for me.

From 9H:

The powers of the world don’t like change,

So they shut up the game-breakers,

the would-be preachers,

the idea makers, because their system only works

when nothing changes, so they keep them quiet,

with only their malicious greed behind it,

planting the seed.

When the seed grows, it turns into a tree,

and when a tree grows tall, it’s hard to cut down…

From 9J:

My speech I left like a house on fire,

But this time my words won’t misfire.

That bully, it’s time to confront him,

To show I’m not just a melting icecream.

Without dismay, without distress,

Chest out, back straight.

Because I will take on the dare.

From 9K:

Blinks of cosmic glitter twinkled  in the sky

shimmering with an exuberant brilliance

as it stained the rich vermillion sunset.

The place where the sky met the sea

Had a majestical topography.

and a favourite line of mine:

They tormented the sky, tearing the delicate canvas,

Its colour a conflux that couldn’t stop bleeding…

And, to honour 9L’s winning poem, here is the full text:

9L  Ivan and Yi Ming

Poverty

 

Somewhere in Australia they are incinerating

Designer handbags, never used, to maintain brand exclusivity

Whilst in inner-suburbia there is a child digging through

The Salvo’s donation tip for a jacket that can last them the winter

Somewhere in Australia they are building boutique apartments

And fancy shopping malls so that we forget that

Unemployment is soaring

Homelessness is soaring

Poverty is the cracked lips of a boy, hands outstretched, eyes like a dead fish,

it is the blackened toenails of the outworker, chest compressing with each breath

Do you not hear the lullaby of a mother hunched in a rusty old car in a parking lot at night?

Do the cries of the homeless who scream with fleshy pink throats fall upon your deaf ears?

Do you hear the peoples sing: but only until it stops making you feel comfortable

Because it is better to be silent, hold our tongues

Bow our heads in defeat and get back to work

Then for you to acknowledge that the wealth, the privilege you accumulated

Was built on the blood and bones of the oppressed minorities

Built on the sweat and tears of the homeless and overworked

Is it truly benevolence when you throw a piece of stale bread

To the people whose homes you drove them out of?

Our narrative, our stories aren’t your pay-per-view poverty porn to ogle at

Do not throw us your scraps, your pittances for us

For us to climb onto the back of other others to reach for

We were confined to lifetimes hunched over, lifeless, in factory plants

Lethargic and weary as pawns in your pyramid scheme

Would you rather us complacent and obedient slaves?

 

(SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH)

Do we scare you?

Since when has saying nothing done anything?

This is not an outlet to spruik your faux philanthropy

This is not an appeal for a rich people Jesus to come to our salvation

We learnt the hard way that in the snaking queues of Centrelink

Under the Flinders Street bridge at night that there is no god pining for us

We don’t care if you don’t want to believe we exist but we believe in you!

Each and every one of you are complicit in our death

On the streets, in rusty cars, in public housing units,

Guilty whether by consent, complacency, indifference.

The only way to enact social change, to close up the crackswe have fallen into is

To lend a hand, give a shoulder to cry on, open up your ears.

This is a conversation.

Won’t you listen?

 

 

A huge thank you to Ms Buckland for organising this event, to all the English teachers involved for hard work and inspiration, to Ms Morgan and Mr Sloan for judging (I can’t thank myself, but I enjoyed the judging experience so much), and to Ms Tsilimidos for her unrivalled skills as M.C.! A big thank you to our wonderful stage and film crew, Brett and Mr Morton.

 

Our students contribute to Q&A’s Schools Special Victoria program

It was exciting to see some of our students in the audience for this week’s Q&A: Schools Special Victoria, with Louis Gordon asking the first question!

On the panel: Josh Frydenberg, Minister for the Environment and Energy; Catherine King, Shadow Health Minister; Pinidu Chandrasekera, Parade College, Bundoora; Aretha Brown, Williamstown High School; Jock Maddern, Kaniva College; and Jacinta Speer, The MacRobertson Girls’ High School.

Our panel discussed: marriage equality, the proposed PaTH program, rural youths, youth unemployment and the voting age.

Our students’ success in this year’s Slade Literary Awards

Three students from 9L were finalists in this year’s Slade Literary Awards, a writing competition that has been run for more than twenty years by Richmond Rotary Club.

The topic this year was ‘Making a Difference’ and Hoangan Le, Henry Mann and Vlad Monakhov all received certificates of merit for their essays. Hoangan’s essay, ‘Second chance fairy’ was about Nobel Peace Prize winner MalalaYousafzai; Henry’s essay was about the difference that can be made by quantum computing; and keeping with the technological theme, Vlad’s essay was titled ‘How the internet changed the world.’ Henry was performing in the Winter Concert, so was unable to attend the awards night, but Hoangan and Vlad were able to experience the event and meet the other finalists.

Congratulations, Hoangan, Henry and Vlad! Thanks to Mr Blair Mahoney for organising this opportunity for our students.

Is texting your main form of communication? How to have a conversation face-to-face

(This post is based on a session run as part of Ten Minute Tuesdays.)

Of course, we all have face-to-face conversations every day. But how skilled are we in the art of conversation?

Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

 

Here are the 10 basic rules Celeste has shared:

  1. Don’t multitask. Be present, be in that moment. Don’t be thinking about other things.
  2. Don’t pontificate  True listening means setting aside yourself, your personal opinions.
  3. Use open-ended questions. Who/what/where/why/how? Otherwise you’ll get yes/no answers (boring).
  4. Go with the flow. While the other person is talking, we remember things about ourselves and then we stop listening because we’re waiting for the opportunity to say our stories. Let them go.
  5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. Don’t talk about your own experiences. All experiences are individual. It is not about you. You don’t need that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you’ve suffered.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself. It’s condescending and it’s boring. Don’t keep rephrasing your point.
  8. Forget the details. Don’t talk about the days, dates, names. People don’t care.
  9. Listen. If your mouth is open, you’re not learning (Buddha). Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.
  10. Be brief.

Be interested in other people. Be prepared to be amazed.

Thanks to those who came to the session; it was great to see your spirited conversations following our discussion after the TED talk. Some photos for your pleasure:

Comic Con(versation)

Seeing new books and helping select them for the library is always a winning activity and this week students from the Book Club, Library Assistants group,  some year 12 students  and a few keen teachers have all helped review some wonderful new comics, anime and graphic novels for the library collection. Titles chosen range from Super Heros (Welcome Wonder Woman and Ms Marvel), a few more in the Marvel Star Wars range, Blanket (this had been on my list for some time) Nimona,  The Fifth Beatle and many more.

As much as possible we try to purchase locally and from within Australia. All Star Comics based in Melbourne are one of our suppliers who are able to drop tubs of treasure for us to choose from.

 

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Students talking about the comics and popular series as well as sneakily reading a few titles before they are returned.

 

 

 

Out and about

Each year the staff and a small group of student leaders from the four selective high schools are given the opportunity to meet, this year it was Suzanne Cory’s turn to host. For many of us it was a longer commute than usual but we were so warmly welcomed it compensated for the early start.

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The keynote speaker, Mark Donaldson VC told of his experiences in the Afghanistan  war and what lead him into a military life. It was honest account and he stressed his ability to focus and think under pressure. These attributes literally lead to his survival, and to him saving the lives of others. It is hard to impress a room of over 500 teachers but he did it.

Mark holding his biography, The Crossroad, signed for a student.

It was with a great deal of pride students from Suzanne Cory also took teachers on tours, sharing the highlights of learning at their school.

 

The day included the opportunity for faculties to meet. For the library team it was especially delightful to visit another library, to share ideas and concerns. Paul Byrne, Head of Library at Suzanne Cory ran a practical session on encouraging wider reading using games and  fun activities. He had us participate in a student  activity,  matching the book cover with the blurb. Most of us will be taking this idea and using it this term as it resulted in lots of discussion and interaction.

Concluding the day we were challenged by Prof. Shirely Alexander, Vice Chancellor of University of Technology Sydney, who discussed the University’s radical change to their approach to learning. The motivation behind this change is a focus on the skills and knowledge students of the future will need for an ever changing workforce. We were amused by the list of job titles she showed us for jobs of the future and a few librarians among us could see us using our skills to become Nostalgists; helping people sort their collections/memorabilia and telling their story.

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We wish to extend our thanks to our host school and the many presenters and facilitators. Thank you also to those who attended from other schools – it was lovely to see you.