July 23, 2014
Bray Park State School won the special best school prize in our Sing Loud! competition with their original song BRING IT ON. Below focus teacher and author of BRING IT ON Jo Reid-Speirs shares the school’s reconciliation journey and tell us about their entry to Sing Loud!.
Bray Park State School is situated in Queensland’s Moreton Bay Region and has a population of 476 students with 16 per cent being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. The community composition is richly diverse. Whilst all persons and cultures are inclusively valued and respected, there has been an identified need to better engage our minority groups including our Indigenous community. We needed to involve our whole school community, work towards breaking down barriers, build confidence and pride in our Indigenous students and foster a love of learning. Our vision was that this would lead toward reconciliation and generational change.
We developed a unique framework to foster engagement of Indigenous students, build pride and promote cross-cultural knowledge and understanding toward reconciliation. The framework called BRING IT ON is an acronym – Building Reconciliation for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Generations through Inclusivity, Truth and trust, Opportunities and New pathways. As identified in standard English dictionaries, the term ‘bring it on’ means ‘to meet a challenge’.
As part of BRING IT ON, a ukulele program has now been implemented under the direction of our Focus Teacher – Jo Reid-Speirs. Utilising knowledge gained from research and applying creative thinking, the ukulele was identified as valuable tool to build literacy skills, promote cross cultural understanding and engagement, bring people together through the universal language of music and build pride within students. Importantly, the ukulele had no gender or cultural bias and could be easily taught across all levels. This program is accessible to all students. While students are immersed in a range of music , they also learn to analyse, write and perform material that has both personal and cultural significance. This empowers both the performer and the audience to whom they perform. The ukuleles have all been painted with Indigenous designs by our Indigenous parents and our performers wear our original design t-shirts bearing our logo BRING IT ON.
Song writing is now becoming a focus of our program. The lyrics of our original song entitled BRING IT ON written by Jo Reid-Speirs, reflect the ethos of our program. The song was launched at the 2014 Reconciliation Assembly and will continue to be performed at assemblies and special occasions by the school choir and ukulele performance group with the entire student body joining in.
We were inspired to enter into Sing Loud! as we believed it was a great opportunity to lift up our voices and for others to hear our plea to ‘come together as one’. We believe reconciliation is about everyone – it’s about ‘you and me’. When our whole school sings this song together, it is very moving and there is an overwhelming sense of unitedness. Importantly, there is great respect and admiration for our Indigenous students.
Our dream is for the words of this song to be echoed across Australian primary schools. This song represents hope, pride, respect, truth, trust and unitedness. It is about each of us changing attitudes through better understanding that can lead toward generational change and reconciliation. The simple melody and lyrics allow for all voices to connect with this song. Music is a universal language that can evoke great responses which can lead toward reconciliation.
The money we have gained from this award will go toward facilitating further change by purchasing drums for a drumming program that can be incorporated into our reconciliation program and engage more students.