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    BIG PROJECT: Ararat Marian College students perform at the Wakakirri story-dance festival in Melbourne.

Marian students shine at Wakakirri

Students from Ararat’s Marian College have been lauded for their work on a unique production dealing with mental health in a rural setting.

About 50 students from the college took park in the Wakakirri story-dance festival, billed as Australia’s largest performing arts event for schools.

More than 280 schools across the country took part in this year’s competition, which encourages students to develop a three-to-seven-minute performance that tells a story through dancing, acting and creative movement.

The Marian College students wrote a show entitled ‘Broken’, which is set in Broken Hill and explores the effects of drought and climate change on farming families, and how it impacts mental health.

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They performed the show in Melbourne on July 22 along with several other Victorian schools.

The performance received several awards from Victorian judges last month, including best public speaking, best minimal use of props and best lighting design.

Marian College teacher Teresa Tonks said the students had worked hard to bring the show together for the competition.

“We ask our year 10 students to become leaders, so they devise the story,” she said.

“They probably had about 10 or 12 weeks to develop it.

“A lot of schools make it their school production, whereas we do our school production as well.

“We only run it during school time, because we have so many bus students and it’s difficult for kids to be available after school.

“We run the whole thing during lunch times and that’s really taxing on the leaders because lunch times are pretty short and kids have other commitments.

“They have a 60-40 rule, where we have to sign off that 60 percent of the performance is devised by students.

“I would say it’s closer to 80 or 90 percent because I really encourage the kids to take ownership and devise it themselves.”

Ms Tonks said the students had chosen a theme of rural mental health because it was something that resonated with them.

“The girls from the leadership team wanted to do something serious because the year before we had done something lighthearted,” she said.

“Looking at mental health, they felt like that was pretty relevant and current.”

Ms Tonks said putting the show together had been a difficult but rewarding experience for her and the students.

“It’s a huge learning curve for them and it’s pretty taxing,” she said.

“There has been a lot of emotion and a lot of tears every year, but it’s a real life skill.

“I tell the kids they can put it on their CV and anyone who knows how hard it is will say, ‘wow, that’s a big project’.

“It’s definitely a quality learning experience.”

The entire September 4, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!