September 2 2007

Spring is springing all over the place here,with wattle, daffodils, jonquils doing their yellow thing. So much is happening at the school that it seems like a good time to do another blog. The Grade 5/6 students are about to go to Melbourne for a three-day camp, during which they will navigate around the city in search of various targets, experience a variety of eating-situations (from a Hare Krishna restaurant to a Vietnamese cafe), and go to the Human Body exhibition at Docklands.

But we’ve all been out and about a lot, with a trip to the Science and Technology Centre at Bendigo, as part of National Science Week; lots of visits to the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, where our students saw everyone from Dave Eggers to Clive James, from Geraldine McCaughrean (author of the Peter Pan sequel) to Louis Sachar (‘Holes’), from Leigh Hobbs to Barry Jones; and to Bendigo again for the Tournament of Minds,where one of our teams walked away with the big award for displaying outstanding values and attitude. Only seven of these awards are given in the whole of Victoria.

On Friday we sent two teams to an inter-school chess tournament. They both did really well. As we — at the moment — only go as far as Year 8, our secondary team had to compete against much older kids, but they won their division. The primary team, in a larger field, came third; a great result.

Also last week was our annual fete. Of course nothing around here is really annual, given that we’ve only been open for 18 months. But my guess would be that as long as Candlebark keeps going, the fete will continue, basically because everyone has such a great time. The only rule is that the kids have to do everything: there is no adult help A few of the parents are so enthusiastic that there’s no stopping them, but basically the rule holds good. Last year one of our Preps organised a stick sharpening competition. If you entered, you spent as long as you liked sharpening a stick with a knife, and at the end of the day the sharpener of the best stick got the prize. This year the highlights included a slow race, several bow and arrow competitions with home-made bows and arrows, a fortune teller, a house of horror, and lots of great food and drink stalls.

The fortune teller was Oliver, a Year eight boy. He had me select a number of cards, several of which had swords in them. He then searched through his pack and found a picture of someone lying on the ground dead, with many swords sticking out of his body. My fate, he informed me, was to be killed by four swords. I asked him if he was speaking literally or metaphorically, but he assured me that four actual swords, resembling the ones in the picture, would be the agents of my death. However, just as I was feeling a little faint, and coming over all dizzy, he whipped out a card from the Teachers’ Credit Union, and told me that if I invested my funds with them I would live a long and happy life.

I have to say I left the tent with the gravest suspicions as to the incorruptibility of fortune tellers; well, of Oliver anyway.

Of course when you write or talk about the school publicly, you only mention the good stuff. But I feel there’s a great vibe here. I love what I see happening around me all day, every day. Last week a parent sent me an e-mail describing her son’s response when asked by some friends of the family whether he was enjoying his school. He said it was the “best, best, best school in the whole world, milky way, on the other side of the milky way and all the universe, and in other worlds; but then I don’t really know what an alien school would be like!”

So on that happy note I’ll sign off!