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Maclean High School staff and students participated in the 14th River of Learning Celebration Day on May 29. Image: contributed

Reconciliating at Maclean High School

The 14th River of Learning Celebration Day at Maclean High School was held last week on May 29 as part of the school’s ongoing commitment to Reconciliation in Education.

The day was a huge success with a special morning tea prepared for the visiting Elders in the school library while the Year 7 students and the PE staff played Aboriginal games on the school oval.

A smoking ceremony was held in the quad where the Elders were introduced to the students. During this ceremony, which included a Welcome to Country and Cleansing Dance by the Aboriginal boys, a special tribute was given to the late Uncle Ron Heron and the enormous contribution he has made to Maclean High School and the broader community in all the years he was involved with our Cultural Tours and special projects.

Elders and guests were then invited to the hall to view Year 7 classwork and then to sit under the marquee on the eastern oval for the Celebration Day Ceremony where they were treated to music, dance, and recounts by our students.

Our guest speaker, Neil Randall, gave a very moving address regarding the meaning of education to a Yaegl person in the 1970s.

That education was often challenging for Aboriginal people to obtain.

He outlined the importance of never giving up in terms of furthering yourself with education and that in his lifetime, while living in Maclean and in Sydney, he had seen many significant legislative changes such as the 1967 Referendum, the abolition of the Principal’s Act in 1971, (effectively scrapping the right of a principal to refuse an Aboriginal person the right of education in schools), and the Mabo decision.

Awards were then given out to Year 7 students who had consistently displayed commitment to their classwork since coming to high school and thank you certificates were given to the elders for their participation in the River of Learning Program and the Cultural Tours.

It was a lovely day where people from the community and the school could meet, reflect, and enjoy each other’s company while supporting such an inclusive and unique event on the school’s calendar.

Editorial kindly contributed.