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Gazette Article

Parents rally for Japan's recovery



More than 16% of children attending Artarmon Public School (APS) have parents who were born in Japan so the earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated Sendai made a sombre start to the year for the school community.

Eager to help, staff, students and the multicultural committee used this year’s Harmony Day to raise money for the Red Cross tsunami recovery effort. A gold coin donation gained students the privilege of ditching their uniform for the day. Embracing the theme, “Everyone Belongs”, students dressed in orange, the official Harmony Day colour, or wore national costume from their country of origin.

Cross cultural experiences such as Russian pancake making, sari and dhoti wrapping, lantern making and tai chi exercises were hosted by school parents including Yoshie Hayashi who displayed her family’s exquisite traditional Japanese doll collection. She and her daughter dressed in their traditional kimonos. “Harmony Day is important because it gives us the opportunity to learn about other cultures so that we can understand each other and get along with people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds,” Yoshie said.  

More than $2,000 was raised for the Japanese Red Cross. Families at the school with relatives in Japan felt buoyed by a community committed to the well-being of all.

Cultural harmony and understanding are high priority at APS. More than 30 countries are represented at the school and about 80 different languages spoken by students and their families. The multicultural committee works especially hard to help families new to Artarmon and Australia feel welcome. The families in cultural transition program ran throughout term one and during term two beginner English language classes will be held for parents.

Growing enrolments

More parents than ever have joined the school community because of growing enrolments. APS now has 34 classes with 804 students in all. Principal Louise Green said the school was at capacity, only taking students from the Artarmon catchment area. “We don’t take out of area, we just don’t have the space,” she said. “If we did we’d be twice as big.”

To cope with all this growth, APS has been putting the final touches to its building program. The new library opened for the start of the school year and the school bands also gained their own building. Generously donated by local construction company, Gartner Rose Pty Ltd, the 80sq m portable classroom was originally scheduled for demolition. However, company director Daniel Rose knew, with a little refurbishment, it would make the ideal band headquarters.

“We’re a local building company involved in school construction and we knew the extremely successful music program at APS was in need of its own home,” Daniel said. The school and band committee raised $40,000 in all to cover transport and refurbishment costs. The six school bands now have a permanent customised home with one big rehearsal space, tutorial rooms, instrument storage space and a small music library.

School hall rocks

Moving the bands meant the school hall could be reclaimed and teachers Catherine Yeo, Claire Stark and Emma Crowley wasted no time. Together they are creating the school’s inaugural entry into J Rock. Run by an independent non-profit foundation, J Rock gives primary school students the opportunity to perform for a live audience, using professional production equipment.

Each school must choose a theme, then using music, dance and theatre, create an 8-minute production. “We’re all about raising educational opportunities for all children and encouraging healthy living and an active lifestyle,” J Rock producer and former APS parent Helen Sjoquist said. About 100 APS students will work towards their goal of performing with J Rock in September.

Goals have also been set by the P&C and staff who aim to have interactive white boards installed in every classroom by year end and a second computer laboratory created to cater for the increased number of students.

by Jane Rowley

Courtesy of Gazette May 2011
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