Mar­ian stu­dents shine

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Stu­dents from Ararat’s Mar­ian Col­lege have been lauded for their work on a unique pro­duc­tion deal­ing with men­tal health in a ru­ral set­ting.

About 50 stu­dents from the col­lege took park in the Wakakirri story-dance fes­ti­val, billed as Aus­tralia’s largest per­form­ing arts event for schools.

More than 280 schools across the coun­try took part in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, which en­cour­ages stu­dents to de­velop a three-to-seven-minute per­for­mance that tells a story through danc­ing, act­ing and cre­ative move­ment.

The Mar­ian Col­lege stu­dents wrote a show en­ti­tled ‘Bro­ken’, which is set in Bro­ken Hill and ex­plores the ef­fects of drought and cli­mate change on farm­ing fam­i­lies, and how it im­pacts men­tal health.

They per­formed the show in Mel­bourne on July 22 along with sev­eral other Vic­to­rian schools.

The per­for­mance re­ceived sev­eral awards from Vic­to­rian judges last month, in­clud­ing best pub­lic speak­ing, best min­i­mal use of props and best light­ing de­sign.

Mar­ian Col­lege teacher Teresa

Tonks said the stu­dents had worked hard to bring the show to­gether for the com­pe­ti­tion.

“We ask our year 10 stu­dents to be­come lead­ers, so they de­vise the story,” she said.

“They prob­a­bly had about 10 or 12 weeks to de­velop it.

“A lot of schools make it their school pro­duc­tion, whereas we do our school pro­duc­tion as well.

“We only run it dur­ing school time, be­cause we have so many bus stu­dents and it’s dif­fi­cult for kids to be avail­able af­ter school.

“We run the whole thing dur­ing lunch times and that’s re­ally tax­ing on the lead­ers be­cause lunch times are pretty short and kids have other com­mit­ments.

“They have a 60-40 rule, where we have to sign off that 60 per­cent of the per­for­mance is de­vised by stu­dents.

“I would say it’s closer to 80 or 90 per­cent be­cause I re­ally en­cour­age the kids to take own­er­ship and de­vise it them­selves.”

Ms Tonks said the stu­dents had cho­sen a theme of ru­ral men­tal health be­cause it was some­thing that res­onated with them.

“The girls from the lead­er­ship team wanted to do some­thing se­ri­ous be­cause the year be­fore we had done some­thing light­hearted,” she said.

“Look­ing at men­tal health, they felt like that was pretty rel­e­vant and cur­rent.”

Ms Tonks said putting the show to­gether had been a dif­fi­cult but re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for her and the stu­dents.

“It’s a huge learn­ing curve for them and it’s pretty tax­ing,” she said.

“There has been a lot of emo­tion and a lot of tears ev­ery year, but it’s a real life skill.

“I tell the kids they can put it on their CV and any­one who knows how hard it is will say, ‘wow, that’s a big project’.

“It’s def­i­nitely a qual­ity learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

BIG PROJECT: Ararat Mar­ian Col­lege stu­dents per­form at the Wakakirri story-dance fes­ti­val in Mel­bourne.

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