Redbank Plains SHS

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Redbank Plains State High School. What a wonderful institution, offering nourishment and support to students from battling homes – Aboriginals, Pacific islanders, Africans, Southern Europeans, and yes also a mix of second or third-generation Caucasian Aussies. ‘We are one, but we are many …. ‘ I had been invited to this school, where I was Principal 23 years ago, and where after less than five years I walked out, retired, and left them to continue the struggle with my good friend, Frank Spranklin, providing on-going leadership. So much is now changed, but I sensed an acknowledgement of the heritage of the past as well. Three teachers and one ancillary staff member from that far gone era still there, committed as always, welcoming me back with pride at what was being achieved. Specifically I was there to see how the award-winning senior study room operates, what was it purpose, the philosophy behind it, the ideals, and also meet the dedicated team behind the innovation. I enjoyed the chance to talk with a few of the students clientele, learn their stories, and hear their words of appreciation – the providing of advice, the mentoring, the encouragement they received when undertaking vocational certificate courses and work experience placements. Resume writing, simulated job applications, facing up to financial independence – the practical, the healthy living and the emotional issues all being addressed. And the students have access to their own kitchen and common room space, open from 7.30am and till late in the afternoon if need be. Not just 9am to 3pm. Further I was impressed, how the previous principal and the new Principal supported the project, how it linked in with the work of the community liaison staff, the style of personnel we needed even when I was Principal in the 1990s and that sadly back then the education system didn’t provide. And I was pleased to hear that the school-based Youth Health Nurse, a presence on the campus that I had fought for many years before, was still a valued asset – a service for students and struggling families. But I was also enlightened about so much more – like Platters on Willow, the school’s own catering service that is in demand because of its excellent reputation to provide catering for major functions in the Ipswich City area for up to 500 people. Simply amazing! The reviews of Platters are superlative! I was delighted to taste some of their wares over lunch and find out how it all came about. And then there is the music department with a classroom full of computers with Sebelius music composing software and pull out keyboards – the students writing their own compositions and playing them back with the computed generated instrumentation or vocals. Music for the new age. And there is a 45 strong marching band that led the march through Ipswich City on Anzac Day, out performing the Ipswich independent schools in quality and presentation. My few hours did not give me time to be enlightened about so many other things that make RPSHS great, such as the School of Excellence in Sport programs and the pride that goes with the Redbank Plains All Stars successes in interschool sport. I said it when I left the school in 1993, and it holds true today. This is a school that promotes values as well as any religious school – values of achievement, of goal setting, of cultural pride and cohesiveness, of a passion for pursuing personal health and fitness, of a love of art and music as foundations for harmony amongst all peoples, and not forgetting a concern for the thoughtful management of our Australian and world-wide environment.

About rpsimson1936

Retired geography and outdoor education teacher who loves orienteering and writes novels.
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