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Thank you Collgar Community Fund Your Generosity is appreciated

Technology Upgrade

Merredin College used the generous grant from Collgar Community Fund to replace an obsolete iPad mini trolley and iPad mini devices. Our obsolete devices were no longer able to be updated and a number of apps had ceased to work. The old trolley had severe wear and tear due to regular use and was going to be retired as it had become a safety hazard. A new trolley was purchased for charging and syncing our new class set of iPad minis. 30 devices were purchased along with safety covers to be utilised in classrooms across the school Kindergarten to Year 6.

Students from Yr 2 to Yr 6 utilising the iPad minis

The Collgar donation also allowed for 10 classrooms to have AppleTV installed on our Interactive White Boards (IWBs). These were attached to the data projectors via a HDMi cable in our Kindergarten to Year 3 classes and allow students to screen cast their iPad tablet screen to the IWBs in our classrooms. We had already put Apple TVs in our Year 4-6 classes so this meant that the remainder of our classes are now able to screen cast to share their work and creations.

IWB displaying a students Coding project

All the new hardware was installed early in 2017 which allowed students to benefit from the grant by April. The iPads are booked out during the week using an online booking system and in Term 3 were booked out for 19 hours out of a possible 25 hours. All classes from Kindergarten to Year 6 have regular bookings, with Kindergarten to Year 3 classes having at least 2 booking a week and Year 4-6 classes at least 1 booking a week. The trolley of iPads add to our fleet of iPad Air devices that remain in classes and our lab of notebook computers ensuring that students have access to digital technologies to support their learning.

An afternoon of Digital Technologies

Classroom access to the technology has enabled a big shift in how we do things at Merredin College. Teacher confidence in incorporating digital technologies has grown by leaps and bounds and teachers substitute digital options, augment their current practice and modify their teaching to embed digital technologies into student learning programs. In Term 4 we intend to hold a Technology Showcase to celebrate this shift and the accomplishments of our students. We will invite our parents, School Board and educators from other schools. Merredin College has also applied to be a ‘Teacher Development School’ in the area of digital technologies as we feel we can contribute to the professional development of schools throughout the Wheatbelt by sharing our knowledge and expertise.

Bibbulmum Trek

From the 24-27 August eight Year 9’s took part in this year’s Wilderness Intervention Program on the Bibbulmum track, led by six Year 10 leaders, Mr Gardiner, Mr Tibbits and volunteer Francois Marais. Our team departed the College early on a Thursday morning to begin the 45km hike from Sullivan Rock with clear skies, which fortunately lasted the duration of the hike. We immediately got a sense of the intensity of the hike with many of us struggling to reach the first campsite and most of us eating through the majority of our snack supplies by the first evening.

We attended tribal council after dinner each night to reflect on the day, vote for our favourite ‘Hiker of the day’ and set goals for the next leg of our journey. We hiked more and more confidently each day, everyone seemed to enjoy the opportunity of being outdoors.

Relaxing at Camp

One of the more funny things that occurred was Mitchell’s story about how he saved Riley and myself. It was the second day of our hike and we were traveling from Mount Cooke to Sullivan Rock. I misunderstood what Mr Tibbits had said to 3 of us that we had travelled the wrong way. We ended up walking about 200 meters in the wrong direction but eventually figured it out. Riley and I stopped for a while to catch our breath as Mitchell continued on up the next summit. Once we finally arrived everyone asked us about how Mitchell saved us. We had no idea what everyone was talking about so we asked them to elaborate. Apparently, Mitchell said he came to help us and that he found us lost screaming for help. Obviously this was a lie as he was with us the whole time, but a funny lie.

After our 45km journey came to a close we were greeted by Mr Richie. He invited us all onto the bus where we were given fresh water and Subway. On the trip home some of us fell asleep while others were as awake as owls like always. Overall the Bibbulmum Trek was a great experience and something I would strongly recommend. It tests people limits, rewards hard work, and brings out the best in people.

Special Needs - Sensory Space

Over the last few years Merredin College has seen a significant increase in students enrolling in primary with special needs. Frequently the hustle and bustle of main stream classes can be over stimulating for these students and students require sensory breaks before they can get back into classroom activities. Sensory breaks are known to perk up a child or calm them down and are not only effective in the moment but they actually help to change a child’s nervous system so that over time they are better able to:

• tolerate sensations and situations that are challenging

• regulate emotions, alertness and increase attention span

• reduce unwanted sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviours

• handle transitions with less stress

Balancing and hanging out in the Sensory Space

This year, thanks to the generous support of the Collgar Community Fund, Merredin College has set up a dedicated sensory space for our children with special needs. We have about 12 students that regularly access the room with their Education Assistants, sometimes individually and sometimes in small groups. The grant was used to purchase a range of resources including weighted suits that apply pressure, a pitted mattress to provide a padded surface with texture, a range of crash mats and pillows to snuggle into, sensory bags with pockets of texture, CDs of relaxing music, a range of cushions and bean bags with different surfaces, a dome tent to house some of the items and provide a private space free of visual interruptions and the most popular items being the sling swings.

Our Special Needs Students taking a sensory break

The space is used extensively throughout the day by Pre-primary to Year 5 students. Our specialist OTs, Speech Therapists and Visiting Teachers have used the space with our children and we have seen the positive effects this has had on all of our special needs students.

Collgar Scholarship Program

Collgar Community Fund generously provides Merredin College with four new Scholarships each year;

Two Academic scholarships established in 2016 and two Vocational Education Training Scholarships established in 2014.

Jack Fitzsimons and Josh Burrell

Academic scholarships have the following Selection criteria:-

Families complete an application and Students write an application letter outlining their qualities, ambitions and academic interest.

Students also have to: maintain 'Good Standing', have attendance above 90%, have a recommendation from a member of the executive team. The student with the highest grade aggregate is then recommended to Collgar Community Funds for consideration.

2016 / 2107 Academic Scholarship recipients were Jack Fitzsimons and Josh Burrell

Jack was the highest achiever in Maths and Science and was awarded overall Top Year 10 Student for 2016. He achieved 14 A and B grades throughout the year. Jack had 97% attendance. Josh also received 14 A and B grades over the year and had 92% attendance. Both students continue to do well in 2017 and are well set up to be successful in Year 12.

The Scholarship money has allowed both students to purchase their own laptops which the students use both in school and at home. Having their own laptop at home has meant that they have been able to study and complete assignments and not have to wait for the family laptop to be available. The students have also used to money to pay course fees and for school uniform.

Vocational Education Training Scholarships

2016-2017 recipients were Christian Subiza and Kane Kahika Lewis

2017/2018 recipients were Nicola Beck and Sophie Caplan

The scholarship money was used to pay the students course fees.

Kane is an outstanding student who served the school as a Student Counsellor. He completed a Certificate II in Building and Construction and Certificate II in Engineering; he won the Year 11 Overall ‘Top VET’ student award and was awarded top Year 12 student in his Cert II Building and Construction. Kane is now working with a local builder with the possibility of an apprenticeship.

Christian Completed Year 12 and was the awarded top student for Material Design and Technology-Metals at the Year 12 Awards Night.

Sophie and Nicola have both made an excellent start to their Certificate courses and both being identified as the top students in their class at the end of Semester 1. Sophie is studying a Certificate II in Business and Financial Services and a Certificate II in Hospitality and Tourism. Nicola is Studying Certificate II in Information, Digital Media and Technology and is also studying Certificate II in Business and Financial Services. The end of year reports have not been completed but both students are on track to do well.

Merredin College has used the ‘Build Up Zone’ (BUZ) Program for our Year 4-6 students since 2015 to develop student social and emotional skills. In 2017 we intended to extend this program to a Peer Support Program for Year 6 students and Protective Behaviours Program for Year 1 & 2 students. To run these programs at the school, funds from the Collgar Community Fund were set aside to train the Social Worker attached to the school from Amity Health. Unfortunately, the professional learning required to run these course was not offered until November 2017. We were recently notified that Amity Health would no longer have a Social Worker attached to the school so the training will now be done by one of our School Chaplains. They are booked into the professional learning sessions required to run these courses which will mean they can provide the programs to our students in 2018.

Funds from the Collgar Community Fund also went to the purchase of materials to run these programs, the resources have all been purchased – Training Resource Files and Student Workbooks. These are ready for implementation for the start of 2018.

When we run these programs in 2018 it will provide students with emotional and social skills to help them deal with daily challenges. It will also provide additional leadership training ‘BUZ Rangers Program’ for our upper primary students so they can support their peers in the playground to resolve issues in a consistent way with these skills transferable to other situations in the community.

For our Year 1 and 2 students, a time when disclosures become common, the protective behaviors – ‘Feel Safe’ program will provide a framework for working students through staying safe and knowing how to find help when needed.

Secondary Student Leaders - Leadership Camp

Each year in March the student leaders, Mr Baltovich and Ms Rogerson travel to Perth for the Halogen National Young Leaders Day. The event is renowned for gathering an amazing range of keynote speakers who share their stories and leadership insights with thousands of aspiring young leaders from across the country. The support from the Collgar Community Fund allows us to spend a night in Perth and attend a full day’s events at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Among this year’s speakers were Channel 9 news anchor Tracy Vo, teen skateboarding sensation Poppy Starr, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson, Governor of Western Australia, and Paralympian Brad Ness. All students and teachers had an excellent time and took a wealth of knowledge from such inspirational and hard-working members of our wider community. We sincerely thank the Collgar Community Fund for granting us the opportunity to attend this event each year.

Protective Behaviours Seminars

On Wednesday the 29th of March a series of Protective Behaviours workshops were presented to all Year 7-10 students by the WA Child Safety Services. For Year 7 students the focus was on sexual abuse awareness and for the older students, online and cyber safety. These workshops support our health and wellbeing programs at Merredin College and were very kindly subsidized by Collgar Wind Farm to the tune of $2,260. We acknowledge Collgar’s wonderful support of our students and programmes.

Choir Camp - One Big Voice

The Collgar Community Fund donated $1000 to the Merredin College Choir to enable them to travel to Perth to participate in a concert at the Perth Arena called “One Big Voice”. 43 students travelled by bus to Perth and stayed overnight at Point Walter Camp School in August of this year. 80 choirs from mainly Perth and some surrounding areas had been rehearsing 10 songs throughout the year and the night at the Perth Arena was the first time that these 4000 students (the largest children’s choir in Australia) had performed the songs together in different harmonies as ‘One Big Voice”. The songs performed were chosen as they had positive messages and the concert was encouraging participation rather than competition allowing the students to build good relationships with other schools and members of the community. As some of our families are not as financial this generous donation enabled all of our choir members to attend the concert and build on their own confidence and performance skills. Many thanks to Collgar for giving the students this opportunity.

MerryDin - End of Year Awards

Merredin College presents awards each year to students who have displayed academic excellence or been model students displaying exemplary citizenship in the school community. Collgar Community Fund's generous donation is split between awards for students in primary and secondary. Merredin College will hold award evenings at the end of 2017, with primary holding a concert over 2 nights with the theme – ‘The Newspaper’ and secondary holding an award evening for Year 7-9. Year 10-11 will have their award evening on the first day back in 2018.

Year 6 Camp

Each year Merredin College has sent the Year 6 students to NANGA bush camp. This year the Collgar Community Fund, contributed to the cost of the activity providers, transport, accommodation and meals. This camp provided students with a range of activities that helped to improve students’ confidence, resiliency, teamwork, trust and conflict resolution skills. Students actively engaged in activities including:

• Rock wall climbing

• Zip line

• Raft building (and testing)

• Rafting

• Low ropes course

• Team games

• Orienteering

Trust building, resilience and problem solving activities

Students’ confidence within the classroom has changed because of their participation in this camp. Students have a greater drive to attempt tasks before having the attitude of “I can’t,” which has assisted in improving their learning outcomes. Students have also utilised this confidence to improve their leadership and teamwork skills. Quiet students are now having their voice heard and acknowledged and students that continually needed to be in control are more aware of the opinions and ideas of others.

They had a blast!

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