STORIES create community.
Scottish actor Peter Forbes says ‘they enable us to see through the eyes of other people, and open us to the claims of others.’
Yesterday marked the opening ceremony of the much anticipated yarning circle at Abergowrie State School on Warrgamay country in the heart of the Herbert River Valley.
The new addition at the school was a part of the foundation for rural and regional renewal grant which was funded by bull stud farmer Yulilgar.
A yarning circle is a safe and supportive space for students, staff, and community members to use their voices and build respectful relationships.
It is a place of honesty and trust; a place where every person in attendance is equal.
Principal Laura Beth-Martin, who is currently on maternity leave having recently given birth to her third child, said: ‘This space will encourage confidence and resilience in the school’s students, foster an attachment to their surrounding environment and connect them with our rich First Nations peoples.’
She added: ‘Through the journey of our yarning circle, the Abergowrie State School community and the Warrgamay people have been brought together and we feel very fortunate to have gained this rewarding friendship.’
Warrgamay traditional owners were invited to bless the site through their traditional dance.
Acting School Principa Samara Koidis said: ‘We wanted to recognise and celebrate this incredible place we have put together – and also celebrate this wonderful community.
‘For someone who is new in moving to this community, the warmth I have received and to see the response from those joining us today is amazing.’
Laura-Beth said: ‘It has been lovely to bring community together.
‘We have enjoyed getting to know everyone from the Warrgamay community; it has been an easy and comfortable journey.
‘Our school community is grateful for the friendships we have made through our yarning circle and the opportunities we have gained, and we look forward to our continued learning in this wonderful direction.’
Parents and citizens president Michele Coventry said: ‘Thank you to everyone who donated and contributed towards the construction of our yarning circle.
‘Together we created a truly beautiful space that we can all be proud of.
‘We are grateful to our community for your continued and unwavering support for our school – we could not have achieved this wonderful space without your help and kindness.’
‘The Hinchinbrook Shire Council made the yarning circle opening possible with a grant which assisted with catering for the event, from the Trebonne Convenience Store.’
The students also spoke about what the yarning Circle meant to them and what they learnt from the experience.
Ashleigh Coventry: ‘When we did our hand printing on the rocks. I did a few hand and foot prints. In ten years’ time I’ ll be able to come back here and place more marks, to stay connected and reflect on my time as a student here at Abergowrie State School.’
Charlie Reid: ‘On Thursday our Warragamay friends Clary and Troy came to talk about the importance of painted hands, and to help us paint our hands and feet around the yarning circle. It was a great opportunity to mark our connection to this new site, and have a part of us joined to the school for many years to come.’
Claire Reid: ‘The hand prints we have left here fill my heart with a special feeling of connection. When I am older I am going to come back to this beautiful school and connect with the area again.’
Laila Cantamessa: ‘My favourite thing about the yarning circle is that we all get to share ideas and solve problems. I am so grateful that our teachers brought us such a lovely place at our school, and to our Warragamay friends for teaching us about their culture. I’ve learned so much!’