Students learn traditional ways
IF YOU follow the giant eel down from the Maclean High School office to the gymnasium this week, you’ll stumble upon three tracks leading to a meeting place on Ulungundahi Island in the middle of the Clarence River.
Take a closer look inside the gym and you’ll notice the giant eel is made up of nearly 200 colourful artworks by Year 7 students who this year have had the opportunity to participate in the first ever Cultural Immersion Program at the school.
The eel represents the story of the creation of the Clarence River, and forms a big part of local cultural identity.
This year students have been taken to Brooms Head to learn more about local legends, food sources and traditional crafts from Yamba and Maclean’s Yaegl elders.
Uncle Ron Heron said the program passed on knowledge to the next generation before it was lost.
“It’s good for them to learn about what was important and how it was used,” Uncle Ron said.
“If you take care of your country, it will take care of you.”
Year 7 student Nick Marney said he loved the opportunity to visit the Brooms Head axe factory and fish traps.
“I loved learning about Aboriginal history and how peaceful it was,” Nick said. “The elders are cool and they know a lot.”
The Cultural Immersion Program saw the three faculties of science, art and geography come together to explore signs and symbols, biodiversity and mapping in the context of local Yaegl culture.
Students recounted on their own “mini eels” how bowls were carved from the buttress roots of the fig tree, and how blankets were made from the beaten inner bark, as well as stories of their own personal heritage.
Maclean High School principal Tony Carr said the cultural expo was a clear indication of how far the school had come in terms of connecting students with local Aboriginal culture.