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School builds winning community

Artarmon Public School (APS) is building a community of winners. Leading by example are parents and carers involved in the multicultural committee's beginner English classes. Averaging 17 participants a week, the classes have been so successful that, despite losing Department of Education funding, the program is set to expand in the second half of this year.

The Parents and Citizens committee is meeting the cost of materials and resources while two new teachers will volunteer their time and expertise. Lee Young is an ESL (English as a Second language) teacher and native Korean speaker.

Mandy Zhang speaks Mandarin and is a member of the Willoughby City Council (WCC)'s Mosaic Centre. In addition, APS will join with Chatswood Public School (CPS), which ran a similar course. APS will host beginner lessons and intermediate students will attend class at CPS.

Multicultural committee co-convener Gwyn Denton says everybody wins. "Community breeds community," she said. "Parents attending the class wanted to give back to the school. They have covered numerous books for the school library and taken over the management of lost property."

Assistant principal Caroline Alford said the classes had benefited the school. "The fact that parents have a better understanding of English allows them to participate more in the school community which supports the children and also helps the parents connect with each other."

Connecting with each other through understanding was also the theme at the multicultural perspectives public speaking competition, which APS students contested. Tony Davey from The Arts Unit of the Department of Education and Communities said the competition had two distinct aims. "Firstly it provides an opportunity for students to develop confidence - it's the only state-wide speaking competition for primary school students - and secondly, it encourages them to think about multicultural issues," he said, Year 5 APS student Daniel Selvadurai won his section and will now join 81 speakers at the regional finals.

Three APS athletes - Lewis Clabburn, Kevin Yang & Claire Eaton - are also heading for competition finals. They will compete in the School Sports Australia Annual Athletics Championship in Darwin in the Northern Territory later this year. Lewis will compete in 100m and 200m running events while Kevin and Claire will contest the discus and shot put.

According to Regional Sports Organiser Peter Tomlin it is a noteworthy result. "There are approximately 110 places in the state team," he said. "Students from all schools - public, catholic, private and independent - compete for a place so to have three students from the one school make the NSW athletics team is an outstanding achievement."

Members of the school band program are also dedicated achievers. The Concert Band and Stage Band recently participated in the Dicksons' Yamaha Band Festival. The festival hosts entrants from all over the state and this year more than 300 bands participated.

Mark Strykowski, the festival's education and schools' manager said the festival was unique because entrants received valuable feedback on their performance. "After the band has played an adjudicator goes backstage and holds a mini-workshop with them. It's valuable information which helps them improve and refine their performance," he said. The APS Stage Band and the APS Concert Band were both awarded Gold in their categories, adding to a cache of awards, which reflects their commitment and high standards.

Gold was also awarded to a talented team of APS gymnasts who recently won medals at the NSW State Championships for Gymnastics Sports Acrobatics. Lauren Ward, Anna Dutschke and Samantha Anderson won their section for trios with a routine that included tumbling, rolling, standing on and jumping off each other's thighs and backs.

The school anticipates large numbers of children at the kindergarten orientation program. Enrolling students for 2012 are invited to spend the morning at "big school".

The next kindergarten orientation day is on November 9. Prospective parents can also join a school tour on September 7 or October 25 and experience for themselves a school community, which encourages a winning attitude.

by Jane Rowley

Courtesy of Gazette August 2011
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Lauren Ward, Anna Dutschke and Samantha Anderson ... winning trio





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