WA - School of Isolated and Distance Education Open Day

The SIDE school gardens were picture perfect as we welcomed about 400 visitors to the Open Day. While there have been events all year, this was the first that included such a Centenarywide range of former and current staff, students, school administrators and their families. It was great to see staff and students working together to welcome our visitors and showcase the school’s activities in tours, and in historical and contemporary displays and exhibitions. We were particularly pleased to see teachers and students from the WA Correspondence School on the day, some of who had contributed their own stories of distance education to the Shared Stories project that has continued all year.

Musician 12 year old Mitch Ballardin entertained patrons at the outdoor café as they ate their sausage sizzle and Devonshire tea. Other activities included the photo booth, lawn games, interactive art, a Centenary Tree Mural and the Visitors’ Book. Background piano music, broadcast throughout the day, was played by Joshua, a SIDE Year 11 Elite Performance student.

The formal ceremony on the day was opened by Dr Richard Walley who gave a moving Welcome to Country, and who mentioned that he was hoping to catch up with one of his
former teachers who had also worked in distance education (Len Arnott)! Other dignitaries on the day included Mayor Emma Coles from the City of Vincent who dedicated the Centenary garden and Peter Titmanis, Executive Director Strategic Initiatives and Performance, who represented the Director-General of Education. Noel Chamberlain, Principal of SIDE reflected on the history of the school and the strong sense of connection evident in those present.

One of the wonderful highlights of the ceremony was the induction of former students into the SIDE Hall of Fame. One inductee, Clarence Eakins was not a student but was the first Headmaster of the school and a pioneer in WA of distance education. There were many members of the Eakins family in attendance and Mr Eakins granddaughter donated the walking stick (that had been presented to him by the Correspondence School at his retirement) back to the school. Other inductees were Sadie Canning MBE (pioneer Aboriginal nurse in rural WA), Tonya McCusker AM (ballet dancer and philanthropist), Dr Martin Gougiamas (creator of Moodle), Troye Sivan Mellet (performer) and Tamsin Cook (athlete).

Current students took to the stage for the final part of the ceremony. Ballet students, Darcey, Ella, Zoe, Meaganand Myah, choreographed and danced in an original performance. Year 12, Daniel, spoke on behalf of all SIDE students and assisted Noel Chamberlain in cutting a birthday cake.

Thank you to the many staff, students and friends who volunteered prior to the event and worked hard in 35 degree heat on the day. A big thank you to all those who attended, some travelling long distances to be with us.

The Centenary Year

There have been a number of projects across the year to celebrate the Centenary, many of which are of lasting impact within the school. Reminiscences of former and current staff and students were My Story Recollections collected in writing and on video as a permanent record of the school history. These will be integrated with the WA timeline of distance education, and will remain available online as part of the history of the school. As part of researching, the school Archives were organised and made available to the school community for the first time. Many students over the year have contributed more items to the archives.

The school leadership over 100 years was celebrated in an online Principals Honour Board. The names and photos of all the previous Headmasters and Principals of the Perth-based distance educations schools were collected for the first time in one place.

A new meeting place for students and staff at Leederville has been developed that Student Hub includes paintings by Kamsani Bin Salleh, a new table tennis table and improved seating, creating a place to relax, meet and exchange ideas. This new area overlooks another Centenary project, the Centenary garden. A beautiful centenary garden has been created using Australian plants in a Centenary Garden more formal setting. This has been a project developed by the Primary team at SIDE.

Combining research and collaboration, K to 12 Humanities and Social Science students have created The Time Capsule and will be opened in 2069.

Visual artist Stephen Peacock worked with Year 10 and 12 SIDE students through Art Project Saba and Moodle in Semester 2 providing inspiration and advice on artworks related to ‘Place’. Student and staff work on this theme is displayed online and was displayed at the Open Day. This initiative acknowledges the achievement of students beyond school.

There were six inaugural Hall of Fame inductees in our Centenary year, and two will be inducted in each subsequent year.

Further information on these projects and the Centenary events can be found at www.side.wa.edu.au/centenary.