By Robert Laud
EARLIER this term 35 Year-9 students from Denmark Senior High school, accompanied by three staff, had the opportunity to explore Sydney, Canberra and the Snowy Mountains.
Over six days the students experienced a range of curriculum-linked educational opportunities and an invaluable opportunity for personal growth.
The pace was intense and unrelenting. We left Denmark at 2.30pm on Saturday and arrived, bleary eyed, at Sydney airport as dawn broke on Sunday. After a very civilised breakfast at Manly we admired the harbour bridge and the opera house before making our way to Bondi beach, where, despite the winter chill we soaked up some rays, and then returned to the coach and headed toward Canberra and some much needed slumber.
At The Museum of Australian Democracy at old parliament house we were able to re-enact excerpts from the parliamentary debate over the 1964 National Service Act – which unearthed some conscientious objectors. At Parliament House we saw first hand where the decisions that affect all Australians are thrashed out, and we left with considerable knowledge about the machinations underpinning our democratic nation.
We toured the Australian Institute of Sport and admired the facilities that some of our finest athletes have trained in – including watching elite gymnasts work through some complicated warm-ups – and saw the level of technology used to analyse the bio-mechanics of swimming, in their state of-the-art pool. The experience inspired a number of our junior athletes and made their goals feel attainable.
After our exertions at the AIS we headed to the National Museum of Australia for a change of pace, and were awestruck by the fascinating exhibits about the history of our region.
The Australian War Memorial was informative and moving, and we laid a wreath on behalf of the school, accompanied by Vietnam veteran Colonel Joe Johnson, who gave us a fascinating insight into the sombre reality of armed conflict.
The highlight of the week for most students was the chance to develop new skills in the snow. The sun was shining, we had a good covering of powder, and 35 novices champing at the bit to try skiing and snowboarding provided a steep learning curve, but many students were equal to it.
Our final day in Canberra was a day of science, starting with wrapping our heads around the myriad mental challenges at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre.
Our last stop gave us significant food for thought as we contemplated at the Canberra Deep Space Communication complex how insignificant, in cosmic terms, we truly are.
The trip was a roaring success thanks to Jodie Pollard, who coordinated the excursion, financial assistance from the federal government, and 35 exceptional young people who gave us reason to be very proud.