Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yarrambat Historical Speeches

This week a quiet little local program celebrates its 20th anniversary.  Every year the Yarrambat Historical Society  has partnered with the Yarrambat Primary School for its Grade 6 historical speeches program.

Students write and present a Historical Speech on either an aspect of the local community or the history of a family member.  Children research and gather information about their topic in readiness for writing their speech in the classroom. The speeches are then delivered over three nights to an audience of family and friends as part of a competition run in conjunction with The Yarrambat Historical Society.

Three judges listen to the speeches and provide personal comments and feedback at the end of the evening on presentation of their participation certificate. The Phil Rufels Award is later presented at a school assembly as well as highly commended and commended awards. Phil Rufels was a former School Council President (now deceased) who assisted in implementing the program.

I had the privilege of being invited to judge the students speeches this week and was impressed by the high standard of the students presentations.  Topics included the local histories of Plenty, Doreen, Whittlesea and the Diamond Creek Force Netball Association, personal family histories often concentrating on a grandparent or great grandparent and their arrival into Australia post World War 2 and/or their war service.

For many of the students who explored people in their family history it was the first opportunity they had to ask questions and gather oral history.  A number of students mentioned that they learned things they had never known before.  Many students were obviously inspired by the hardships and tough times that their family members had to endure, including tales of war time experience.

One student spoke about the Australian airman Charles Kingsford Smith, another whose ancestor was a champion boat racer at Cambridge University, another who had wood choppers in his family. Another had a powerful title and introduction “Tattslotto you don’t want to win” that grabbed everyone’s attention – relating to Vietnam War service.

One of my co judges was a past student of YPS.  Now a local secondary school teacher, he  has returned to his primary school every year for the past ten years to support the program.

Students actually start their preparation in Grade 5 and I heard a whisper in the evening break, that one student had already chosen her topic for the following year.

I am told that this is a very unique program offered at Yarrambat.  I hope that after 20 years its success may inspire other primary schools to partner with their local history group and start a long running tradition locally and encourage students to tell their local stories.

Congratulations to all involved in the 2012 program.

1 comment:

Essendonian said...

It sounds like a really fantastic program to introduce young people to history.