A song about happiness, a short story about a golden piano, and a painting inspired by a Dubstep song that filled the artist with a “pulse of enjoyment” – these are some of the talented artworks produced by primary and secondary students from Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW).
The creative endeavours, which all fall into the theme ‘the good, the beautiful, the true’ were created by students, aged from seven to seventeen, for this year’s SPLICED program. The acronym stands for 'Stretching Potential through Learning in Interactive and Challenging Environments in the Diocese of Wollongong' and challenges students to complete engaging activities based on key dimensions of the Australian Curriculum.
“Today we recognise our successful students who have produced, reflected, created and processed at a level of thinking and ability that most of us should be in awe of,” said CEDoW Professional Officer for Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking, John Charadia, at the launch of this year’s SPLICED publication and website, which showcases the student’s contributions.
At the prestigious event, over 90 students plus family, principals and teachers gathered at The Fraternity Club in Fairy Meadow to celebrate their individual projects across 72 different subject matters.
“We’ve seen the most diverse range of gifts. We are very much allowing [students] creativity to blossom,” added Mr Charadia.
This year’s critical and creative thinking and enrichment program exhibition featured colourful and deeply reflective works, with a great diversity of subject matter from student’s interests and passions. These included saints, space exploration, mental health issues, movie producers, artists, meditation, world war, dance, personal journeys, science, storytelling, religion, technology, culture, dreams and the environment.
In their choice of expressive forms, students were invited to contemplate goodness, truth and beauty in order to identify what the world is like, how they would like to be within it, and how they would like everyone to treat each other.
“Our team of tutors and supervising teachers invited deeper thinking through questions that challenged emotional, spiritual and social intelligence,” said Mr Charadia. “Questions were posed that opened the mind to consider levels of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationships, and the students have responded with a depth that deserves attentive reading.”
He also spoke of the educators who had given their undivided attention to students in the initiative – teachers, tutors and mentors who encouraged the students' perseverance, depth and enthusiasm.
At the launch, students spoke about the impact the project had on them personally – and the transformative power of self-expression. Energy levels were high during the conversations and encounters by all guests, as they wandered around the exhibition engaging with the students.
“I thoroughly believe that creativity can be harnessed through seeing the goodness, feeling the beauty and knowing the truth of an accomplished life,” said St Michael’s Nowra student, Evie Wood, who produced the work, 'Putting the Life into Story'.
“If your vision is beautiful and filled with intentions of contributing to the greater good, then your truth will take flight in the minds and hearts of all.”
Another student, Elijah Jacques from Good Samaritan Fairy Meadow, worked for over 21 hours to create ‘The Rainforest is Key’ – a layered artwork showing the sky, canopy and sunlight inspired by the natural beauty of the rainforest, based on a picture that captivated him. Elijah writes, “I strongly believe that a world seeking peace is the solution to all of humanity’s problems. Our rainforests are the key to our connection to the gifts of love for all God’s creation.”
St Pius X Unanderra students, Lachlan Doran and Xavier Owen explored the benefits of space research and in the process built an almost 2,000-piece Lego model of the Saturn V. Another standout piece of art was the audio-visual work ‘The Love of Ballet’ by Holly Jeffree from St Columbkille's Corrimal. In a one minute video, she presented the beauty of dance and the power it has to tell stories.
“Dance allows me to be myself and helps me express any emotions I felt in that moment,” shared Holly. “Whether I’m feeling sad or angry, content or elated, dance takes the pressure off my shoulders and allows me to be my true, authentic self. [Dance] can be described as a universal language.”
In a beautiful morning of acknowledging, celebrating, sharing, honouring and reflecting on the student's achievements, CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Turner, congratulated the children on their outstanding successes.
He personally praised St Brigid’s Gwynneville student, Devrim Tarhan for his work ‘The Wonders of Life’. In Devrim’s reflection, he writes: "The truth about life is that we are complex. We are all different. We can shape the world if we want to. Humans have a huge mental capacity, and with our consciousness we can change and do everything we want to. This is what makes us human."
Attendees were amazed by the diversity of the manifestos, speeches, slide shows, essays, iMovies, poetry, visual imagery and research papers all touching on themes that have moved their young creators.
“Through this process, students have discovered empathy, compassion, love, community, forgiveness, justice and inclusion, and have made critical judgements on the virtues of goodness, truth and beauty in our world,” Mr Turner said.
“The aim [of this program] is to equip students to become life-long, independent learners and to search for meaning and relevance in a complex and challenging world.”
Mr Turner acknowledged CEDoW Head of School Improvement Services-Specialist Support, Dr Paul McCann, Mr Charadia, the team that supports him in this work, the workshop tutors, gifted education contact teachers and classroom teachers who have guided, facilitated, nurtured and acknowledged these inspired and wonderful children.
Concluding the launch, Mr Turner said, “Regardless of the field of endeavour that these young people will embark upon into the future, the concepts of imagination, innovation, ingenuity and critical thinking are central to success. These skills, gifts, and talents are lifelong and they’re enduring, and they’re to be cherished”.
“As parents and educators in partnership, let’s make sure we nurture that notion of hope and forward looking, and making a difference. Our world will be in safe hands if these young people become core to its existence.”