Students at St Catherines at Singleton celebrate the arrival of their Archie
COVID-19 has dominated the way we work in 2020, creating challenges and uncertainty; but with it has also come opportunities for new entrants to our in-school programs The Archibull Prize (TAP) and Kreative Koalas (KK).
TAP and KK are operating under a new model this year, which encourages communities of practice across primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions, business and government. One school taking on the challenge for the first time is St Catherine’s Catholic College at Singleton, under the guidance of agriculture teacher Joanna Towers.
“One good thing about this crisis [coronavirus lockdown] is I have had time to study at home and listen to a range of webinars in my own time. It has opened up a whole new world for me – soil health, regenerative agriculture, carbon in soils. At the moment I am into dung beetles and it’s become my goal to get them back to the school farm.” Joanna says
The 35 hectare school farm has previously had all but 4 hectares leased to a third party but this year the lease will revert in entirety to the school.
“How we will manage that land has given me the impetus to put new learnings into place,” Joanna says.
In a normal year the students of St Catherine’s would have pigs and cattle ready for the Sydney Royal Easter Show and its cancellation brought great disappointment to the school.
“I wanted something different and something the students could look forward to. I had always been aware of The Archibull Prize and always looked at the final products with amazement, but I thought the project was too big. Now we have an art teacher on board to provide creative genius and a new direction for the school farm, and are participating in both The Archies and Kreative Koalas!” Joanna says
St Catherine’s tasted success with PYiA when they joined the Careers Competition in 2019 where one of their students, Hallee Tanzer, won the Years 7 to 10 section. Joanna found this competition, and the resume writing competition that is part of The Archibull Prize , to be a great asset for her students.
“Glencore [mining company] is a major employer in Singleton and recently they advertised 40 positions and got 1800 applicants. The Cultivate your Dream Career Competition will give the students skills in resume writing to make that important first impression. For example, it’s all very well to say to an employer you are a team player but it’s the concrete evidence of those skills that is important. Students may not realise the skills they learn in school are transferable to the workplace and this competition helped them make that connection.” Joanna says
St Catherine’s will be joined on their 2020 Archibull Prize and their Kreative Koalas journey by Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes, himself a promoter of sustainable and ethical agriculture, and we look forward to watching their vision for a new school farm evolve.