Published on: 21 March 2014

The Preparatory and Senior Schools celebrated Harmony Day this week in a number of ways. While four Year 12 boys shared their own personal stories during the Senior School assembly, 4SS led the way in hosting the Prep School assembly.

On Thursday, Director of Service Learning and Leadership Canon Richard Pengelley invited Indigenous student James Edwards; Aaryen Mall and Alan Roy, both born in India; and Dewruwan Gammanpila, born in Sri Lanka, to speak as representatives of the Christ Church student voice.

James, from Halls Creek on the border of Jaru and Kija country, talked about Indigenous welcomes and his people’s connection to the land. He said a Welcome to Country showed awareness and respect for Aboriginal people, which then allowed individuals to meet each other in harmony.

Aaryen, who came to Australia in 2002, said he was shocked at the harmonious coexistence of the different races and cultures when he arrived compared to monthly riots in India. “For me, harmony is what makes Australia work, and Harmony Day is a celebration of what makes us Australian.” He said.

Dewruwan shared his thoughts on exclusion and discrimination in Australia. He said overall his experiences were positive and it had been many years since he had been bullied based on his ethnicity. “If you combat hate or anger with a smile, a friendly attitude and only love for the other person, often their whole view of you changes,” he said.

Alan, who came to Australia in 2009, said Australia was changing rapidly in accepting diversity and highlighted programs associated with Christ Church including ICEA, Future Footprints and student exchange. “I believe the increasing diversity in Australia has helped remove labels from people. The only label that anyone wants is their name,” he said.

A special musical performance, directed by Paul Millard, was performed by Jazz Band 1 in collaboration with the String Ensemble and Director of Music Kevin Gillam. They performed St Thomas, a percussive calypso come Brazilian style piece, written by saxophone player Sonny Rollins and arranged by Mark Taylor.

In the Prep School, 4SS led a colourful Harmony Day-themed assembly and shared a little of their own background and cultures.

Year 4 teacher Sarah Stone said earlier this term, the boys were asked to complete ‘talk homework’ by having a conversation with their parents about their family backgrounds. “As part of the Prep School’s ‘Big Write’ initiative, the boys used their talk homework to then write a piece about their family, culture and practices in class,” she said. “With 12 different countries represented, they were amazing to read and very insightful.”

In the assembly, each boy read a summary from their writing while a family photo was displayed. “We also decorated shirts to symbolise their family and the Year 4 Choir made their debut singing Lean on Me,” Ms Stone said. Harmony Day facts also appeared throughout the week in the Prep Bulletin and classes had an opportunity to hear different Australians stories through a Harmony Day iPad app.

Orange-inspired free dress days in both the Senior and Prep Schools raised money for the Leukaemia Foundation in honour of the passing of Year 11 student Matthew Carulli, who lost his brave battle with leukaemia earlier this year.