June 17, 2009

It’s been a long time between drinks.  About eight minutes for me, but before you get worried, I should clarify that I am talking about a can of Coke.  On second thoughts maybe you should get worried.
Of course I’m speaking metaphorically. I wished merely to indicate my awareness that a considerable a period of time has elapsed between my previous blog entry and this.  But now, on a sunny winter morning, with a koala calmly chewing the gum just twenty metres from my office door, I feel it’s a good time to offer you a little snapshot of life at Candlebark this week.  In fact, the reason I have the freedom to write is that nearly everyone is at Scienceworks in Melbourne, visiting the Star Wars exhibition.  The Preps (the five year olds) however are back here, running the school, which is why I’m hiding in my office.  But I can hear them through the wall, with Taran, singing cheerfully, and accompanying themselves on a range of instruments. They stayed here last night, for their first sleepover, which went really well.
Another class not at Scienceworks are (or strictly speaking, is) the grade 6’s. They left a couple of hours ago for a three-day camp in Melbourne.  The camp will include a workshop with the famous Circus Oz, featuring trapeze skills. They will also explore many fascinating corners of the city, from a five-star restaurant to an Asian supermarket, from Vic Markets to a cathedral.
Yesterday we sent two groups off, in different directions. 10 primary-aged kids went to Woodend to play T-ball. We sent a very young team — the oldest was in grade 4, and the youngest in grade 2.  Their first game was against Woodend Primary School, a big school, where most of the team appeared to be from grade 6.  We won by a point, rather to my astonishment, I must admit.  We lost the next by a point, and lost a third by a small margin.
20 students went to Sunbury for the zone finals of the chess competition. They came back quite enraptured, as we had the winning team, which gives us instant entry to the State finals.  Billy, Mitchell, Sam and Tristan gold-ed (apologies to the language purists), even though they are from grade 8, 6, 8, and 7 respectively and the competition was for students up to grade 9. It was an extraordinary result for a school as small as ours — we only have 87 students, aged five to 15.
Last Friday night we enjoyed a three-part entertainment in the quaint old Kerrie Hall, a couple of k’s down the road. The evening began with a film made by the grade 1’s.  It was done in vaudevillian style, flickering light, plain backdrop, and featured a variety of extraordinary magical tricks, from cutting strangely elongated children in half to pulling rabbits out of hats.  Two-dimensional rabbits even.
Then followed a play by Samuel Beckett, Catastrophe, a short two-hander, or, one could say, a two-and-a-half hander. This elusive piece was directed by teacher Scott Hatcher, and beautifully played by Brittany and Jamie, with a lot of help from Mitchell.
The main item was Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, a clever inter-mixing of sight gags with wordplay, satire, absurdity and melodrama.  Directed by teacher Basil Eliades, the cast turned a difficult play into a tour de force.  Billy and Michaela as the theatre critics who gradually get drawn into the action, Sam as a moustachioed villain, Rosie and Saxon as vamps, Maya as the real Inspector Hound (possibly), Brock as a deranged killer (possibly), Sarah and Megan as conjoined housekeeper/s, and last, and on this occasion definitely least, Liam T as a completely immobile corpse (the way corpses are meant to be), gave wonderful performances and showed impressive comprehension of a sophisticated text.
It’s only a fortnight since we took a majority of the students to a presentation in Melbourne by young scientists from all around Australia who have won awards for their work.  This was a fascinating session, in which the young people presented their findings on topics as diverse as travel habits of tunas to advances in targeting aggressive cancer cells in humans. Our students had a lot of questions for them. Compared to other schools, our kids seem to focus on the human aspect to their work: why they had chosen their careers, why they had chosen particular fields for their research, whether they enjoyed their work.
We then spent some time in the Melbourne Museum before beetling back to school.
Next Wednesday night is a soiree, involving the whole school, at Kyneton Town Hall, and Term Two ends Thursday.
The other day I was reading the 2008 annual report of a big Catholic school for boys in Sydney. The Principal wrote about how “inspiring visitors from diverse backgrounds had informed and enthused students during the year.”  Turned out that the visitors comprised doctors, local politicians, a priest, and a naval officer on Anzac Day. Oh yes, sorry, and information from the organisers of World Youth Day, a religious extravaganza at Randwick racecourse. Our visitors in 2008 included an ornithologist, an archaeologist, a film-maker, an architect, a world snow-boarding champion, educators, musicians, artists and travellers. It’s a big world out there, a wonderful one, according to some, with trees of green and skies of blue, bright bless-ed days and dark sacred nights, and we like to see our students interacting with it successfully and productively.
Right now I’m going through enrolment applications for next year, so if you’re reading this and are interested in sending your son or daughter, or sons or daughters, to Candlebark, now would be a good time to get in touch.  There are some year levels we would consider taking a couple of new students, if it seems like a good match.
Warm regards to our friends from all around the world,
from John.

Our Website: www.candlebark.info

Camps/Excursions/Events:
Wednesday June 24. Kyneton Town Hall – Soiree – evening
Sunday July 26 – Year 9s depart to Kimberleys
Sunday September 6 – Year 9s return

2009 Term Dates
Term 2:  April 21 to June 25
Term 3:  July 14 to September 18
Term 4:  October 12 to December 15

2009 Public Holidays (no school)
Monday November 2 – Pupil Free Day
Tuesday November 3 – Melbourne Cup Day