The River School ended last year with a challenge, as five of our primary teachers decided not to come back. In typical River School fashion, none of them left for other teaching jobs, but went off to do service in India, travel Europe, take up a new career, etc. Fortunately we found a new inspiring group of teachers, and were lucky to have Dada Shambhushivananda visiting, who gave an inspiring talk on NHE to 30 staff members before the school year began. Dada also attended the Ananda Mela festival and Ananda Marga summer retreat, where his lectures were well received.
Over the holidays, we were able to expand and improve several of our classrooms, which are now looking so lovely and are great for the kids.
The school now has vegetarian, whole foods Tuck Shop (canteen) two days a week, where the children can order healthy, sentient lunches. We are planning to expand this, adding gardens where the children will help out, and extra days. Already, year 7 students are offering a third day of tuck shop each week to raise money for their school trip later in the year.
Also, in typical River School fashion, the school held a swimming carnival at the local pool, with a variety of races. Last year 10 of our children went on to the higher level of competition (district) and the school won the “Small School Trophy” at the competition (our first time to enter). This year 21 children went on to the district competition, and we won the small schools trophy again. Three children have gone on to the regional competition.
River School to Receive Over $2 million in grants
The River School was successful in the first round of Building our Education Revolution government grant applications, and was allocated the full amount available for a school of our size. The funds will go towards two projects. One is a multi-purpose centre, which will have space for indoor sports, drama activities, music room, tuck shop and serving areas. The details are still being finalised with the input of local designers and builders. The second project is a “21st Century Library” which will also have administration space. This new building will be tucked into a new site on the oval, giving a beautiful outlook and administrative heart to the school. Both projects need to begin immediately and be completed by the end of the school year.
The school was also successful in a school pride grant of $125,000. Work started on this project during April holidays, and the children came back to school in some shock as their sports oval was alive with earth moving machines and workers. This grant money is being used to flatten our big sports oval, pave the formerly dirt circular road around the school and add new parking areas to avoid car traffic near the children. Over the last fifteen years, the children played sports on a rather steeply pitted oval, meaning they had to kick up into both of the soccer goals. We thought this was perhaps why the River School children were always outstanding at soccer!, but they’ll adjust to a flat oval as well!
All of these new grant applications have kept school administrators Prabha Demasson and Dada Ratnadevananda very busy, but they were thrilled when their grant was accepted in the first round.
For all of us, its an amazing expansion for our small school, challenging us to guard the natural beauty and sense of intimacy that we currently have, while we are excited about the new opportunities all this will bring for our students’ educational experience.
Associates of the Prout College met with Ac. Shambhushivananda in Maleny River School on January 12th, 2009 in a very relaxed environment to explore new collaborations for globalizing Prout College and for enhancing its capabilities for research and on-line education.