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The Power of Writing

31/03/2017

​Students at North Rockhampton State High School are using the power of writing to express their voice on issues that are important to their community.

“Students respond well and perform their best writing when it’s for a real purpose,” Principal, Mrs Janet Young, said.

This week, students wrote letters of appreciation for their Chaplain of four years, Aaron Schick. For many students, Chaplain Aaron is a calming influence who keeps students on track throughout the ups and downs of the school week: from Breakfast Club to Lunchtime activities, from inspirational talks on whole school parades to a listening ear, from specialised programs for at-risk youth to helping with all school activities. Recently, the Chaplaincy position at the school has been reduced from five to three days a week, which has ignited a passionate response from staff and students. Some extracts of this week’s students’ letters include:

“His support and advice has given me a lot of hope to go on and reach my goals. After last year, I lost faith in people, but after meeting Chappy, I can finally say that that faith has been restored.”

“I like to think Chappy Aaron is an ambassador of all students … allowing us to have a voice in our daily problems and overall wellbeing. He has always been a constant, positive influence.”

“After all, I think his individual effect on everyone is what makes him great … whether it be his speeches that somehow drag me down to Earth and yet give me the motivation to fly all at the same time, or his casual visits.”

Since 2016, NRSHS’s school priority has been the improvement of writing across the whole school. This has included training all staff in the research-based Collins Writing Program which improves student performance through writing and thinking across the curriculum. “We have seen improvement in students’ NAPLAN writing in 2016 against a backward National trend,” Principal, Mrs Young, said. “We have also seen writing becoming much more visible in all of our subject areas across all year levels. This year is about measuring that improvement, and sustaining it through embedded practices over the coming years.”

One of the school’s practices is Writing Wednesday where the entire school writes during the same lesson each Wednesday. “Of course, writing occurs in every lesson every day, but this is the time when the whole school writes together on topics relevant to the school and the community,” stated Mrs Young.

Deputy Principal, Mrs Kylie Butler, commended the 2017 Year 7 students on the determination they are putting into their writing since commencing high school. “Not only did they transition into high school, the Collins Writing Program was new for them too,” Mrs Butler said. “As the Year 7 Deputy, I visit Year 7 classes regularly. It’s wonderful to see our students so passionate about writing and being able to discuss their writing improvements with me when I visit their classes.”