Term’s started at Guyra Central School, and principal Michelle Nicholson is looking forward to a busy year.
“It’s always exciting to start the year,” she said. “There’s a lot of great energy in the school.”
She has a new deputy principal: Timothy Lloyd, formerly at Lithgow High School, and out west in Baradine and Gilgandra.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the students, the families, and the community better, and getting involved,” Mr Lloyd said.
His whole family will be involved with the school: his three kids as students, and his wife Melinda as a student support person.
“We move as a unit!” Mr Lloyd joked. “The school and the broader community have welcomed us with open arms, and I appreciate that support.”
Mrs Nicholson and Mr Lloyd will review the school’s direction this year; they will meet with every family this term, and ask what they and their children want from Guyra Central School.
"We want to include and empower the parents,” Mrs Nicholson said.
The senior student executive – headed by school captains Braydon (BJ) Cameron and Bronte Stanley, and junior captains Sophie Mitchell and Aukestino Alefosio – are active in the planning of what happens in school, too, Mrs Nicholson said.
This week, they gave the Principal a “to do” list to make sure staff were on track with promises to pupils from last year.
“We work very hard within the school to empower the student body," Mrs Nicholson said.
Bronte and BJ were also named Guyra’s Young Citizen and Sportsperson of the Year at the Australia Day community awards ceremony, much to Mrs Nicholson’s delight.
Guyra Central School, Mrs Nicholson said, was big enough to be adequately resourced, but small enough to give individual learning support to each child and their family.
There are 318 students at school; the average class size is 20 students, while senior classes might be as small as six.
“We're able to offer very personalised attention for our children, and we know our kids,” Mrs Nicholson said.
Joining Guyra Central School this year are fourteen kindergarteners. While school can be daunting for kids, Mrs Nicholson said they were settling in well, thanks to a transition program run since mid-last year.
The school also has two Year 7 classes for the first time in many years: 39 students. Most continue from last year, while some came from partnership primary schools like Black Mountain and Ben Lomond, and some new families have relocated to Guyra.
A transition program allowed kids already at Guyra Central to mix with kids from partnership primaries, work together, and get to know each other, so they already have that association on the first day.
Guyra Central has partnered with the University of Sydney to introduce a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program for Year 7 and 8 students.
For two periods of a Wednesday, kids might work with robotics, or investigate agricultural technological processes.
“School these days,” Mrs Nicholson said, “is about stretching minds, problem solving, and creative thinking. Students solve problems, individually and collectively. They get out of the mode of just sitting and listening.”
Next month, the school will hold a Partnership for Learning morning tea to thank businesses and associates for their support in 2018, and discuss how the school can strengthen partnerships this year.