CYRIL Jackson Senior Campus students from 53 different countries embraced “new beginnings” during a host of Harmony Day festivities on Wednesday.
Students came to school dressed in red, orange or yellow and participated in a traditional smoking ceremony, a presentation by Marissa Verma from Bindi Bindi Dreaming, stalls and workshops.
Senior teacher Jeannie Stevenson said there were 57 different languages spoken by students.
“Harmony Day reinforces a sense of belonging and encourages participation which essential for living in a democracy, a form of government new to many of these students,” she said.
“Our students life stories are all too frequently of past conflicts and great challenges including experiences of war, survival against the odds, forced labour, extreme poverty, separation and trauma.
“For them this day endorses harmony as the means to safety and a new beginning and a brighter future. For them Harmony is worth striving for it has a rehabilitative function.”
Ms Stevenson said Noongar Elder Walter McGuire conducted the welcome to country and smoking ceremony.
“The smoking ceremony (or cleansing ceremony) is a traditional ritual used to cleanse and purify not only Noongar country but also our spirits, bodies and souls while we are on it,” she said.
“It enables us to leave behind our troubles and make fresh starts…smouldering leaves purified the area in readiness for this new beginning.”
Community co-ordinator Debra Fitzsimons said the students’ participation rates were very high on the day.
“It’s an important and lovely occasion that allows students, who come from all over the world, to be together, to try new things and to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a part of a school community,” she said.