After weeks of playing timetable tetris, we just had an amazing visit from the Byron Writers’ Festival Writers on the Road Tour. Five authors came to SJC to share their wit and wisdom and it was fantastic to see our Year 8, 9 and 10 students engaging with whole year presentations, as well as students from across the grades who elected to participate in writing masterclasses.
The salient message across all the presentations was that the stories we choose to tell and the ways we choose to tell them have the power to shape culture and our future. Each author expressed how they had always felt on the outside, and how perhaps being on the outside has contributed to their desire to observe and tell stories. Krissy Kneen ran a life writing workshop, having recently published: The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen. It’s a fascinating memoir detailing the eccentricity of her grandmother who ruled Krissy’s household and made life-size papier mache fairytale characters that loomed throughout the house. When she won the lottery, Lotty decided to move her family to fulfil a dream that went horribly wrong. In her research, Krissy uncovered a tragic secret that proved to have not only affected her family, but which scarred entire communities in Slovenia.
Dylin Hardcastle is a non-binary author who explores in their work issues of identity and specifically for them what they find to be the freeing possibilities of not connecting with a mainstream portrayal of conventional identity but in some ways being able to make up and actively choose what is meaningful for them.
Danny Teece-Johnson is an Indigenous journalist and documentary maker who worked with some of our Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students in the realms of reporting (readers identify with stories told through real people’s point of view vs articles featuring ‘issues’) and comedy. Danny creates clips for NITV and has also written for ABC’s Black Comedy. Something especially inspiring about Danny’s own story is that he was dyslexic and basically couldn’t read and write until he was seventeen. He was a good footy player but it wasn’t until a hippie English teacher at Woodlawn he secretly called Mr Bojangles, started to teach him to read - basic stuff - The Cat Sat on the Mat (really) that the world of words was unlocked for him and he became passionate about storytelling.
Dub Leffler is an incredible Indigenous illustrator who tells stories through art. During the Year 10 author panel, Dub was asked how images tell stories. The challenge was issued! Dub proceeded to draw a live time illustration on a whiteboard for our students to determine what the story might be about.
Here were some of our Year 10 responses to Dub’s spontaneous artwork.
‘A man trying to look beyond the edge of his village.’
‘Looks like he’s about to jump but he might be able to fly.’
‘It might seem like he’s about to jump off but if he had skis he might be going to ski back down the other way.’
‘Maybe he’s a bit sad with his life and wants to restart it.’
‘It looks like someone else is watching him and that’s the perspective.’
The day was so rich and inspiring. Thank you to all for supporting the WOTR visit and especially to all supervising teachers, Leonie for womanning the fort, Di and the canteen team for tucker the writers were very happy about, Jeff for IT support, and our amazing maintenance crew - Stephen, Mark and James, for all the setting up and packing down. None of this would be able to happen either if we didn’t have the backing of a leadership team who are always keen for our students to be enriched by real-life opportunities for learning and connection.
Ms Melaina Faranda