Very costly dress­ing down

The Advertiser - - NEWS - KA­T­RINA STOKES

IT was cheers all around yes­ter­day as hun­dreds of Craig­burn Pri­mary School stu­dents proudly donned school dresses, tu­tus and pretty frocks for a good cause in a fi­nal show of de­fi­ance against op­po­si­tion from Se­na­tor Cory Bernardi.

De­spite the Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tives Se­na­tor’s rant about “ab­surd gen­der mor­ph­ing” in re­ac­tion to the pri­mary school’s “Do It In A Dress” cam­paign, stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers threw them­selves be­hind the char­ity with gusto.

With a goal of rais­ing $900 orig­i­nally, Mr Bernardi’s in­ter­ven­tion pro­vided an in­cred­i­ble boost for the event, with do­na­tions sky­rock­et­ing to a record $277,000.

Prin­ci­pal Paul Luke said he was “un­be­liev­ably proud” of his stu­dents.

“It’s been a fairly crazy week. I’m re­ally proud from the sup­port not just within our com­mu­nity but it seems Aus­tralia-wide and also in­ter­na­tion­ally,” he said.

“Strangely enough when it all bal­looned out on that Thurs­day evening, chil­dren were com­ing to school not re­ally aware of the me­dia frenzy that was hap­pen­ing (but) it’s been a ter­rific op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to dif­fer­ent opin­ions in­di­vid­u­ally as a school and for fam­i­lies.”

He was diplo­matic when asked what he would say to Mr Bernardi if he had the chance.

“We have dif­fer­ent views of so­ci­etal val­ues. We live in a democ­racy (and) he’s en­ti­tled to his opin­ion,” he said.

“The over­whelm­ing response from our com­mu­nity has been to sup­port such a wor­thy cause.”

One Girl chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mo­ran Koegel, who heads the char­ity which raises money to help poor African girls go to school, was over­whelmed by the school’s ef­forts.

“I am ab­so­lutely blown away. We could have started with some­thing a bit neg­a­tive but in­stead, there was this ral­ly­ing of sup­port around the stu­dents,” she said.

“It’s not be­cause of some Tweet why peo­ple are do­nat­ing, it’s be­cause peo­ple have been in­spired by the stu­dents.”

Rais­ing just $300 al­lows a girl liv­ing in Sierra Leone and Uganda the op­por­tu­nity to go to school for one year.

“A school dress is ac­tu­ally a re­ally big deal - not all girls, in fact most girls – don’t get the op­por­tu­nity to go to school,” Ms Koegel said.

“So a school dress rep­re­sents ed­u­ca­tion, it rep­re­sents em­pow­er­ment, it rep­re­sents op­por­tu­nity.”

Fa­ther-of-three Luke Strud­wick, 35, of Flagstaff Hill, right, ar­rived to school dropoff wear­ing a school dress with his wife Karen and their chil­dren Ethan, 9, Cohen, 6 and Au­drey, 1.

“The kids re­ally wanted to dress up. We thought we’d give some sup­port and come along dressed up,” he said.

Ethan, who like many boys, opted to wear a dress, agreed with his dad.

“I’m pretty proud of the school. It (the dress) just feels dif­fer­ent re­ally,” he said.


CHEERS TO A GREAT CAUSE: Craig­burn Pri­mary School cel­e­brates the school’s suc­cess­ful Do It In A Dress Day yes­ter­day.

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