Mitchell and Quirindi High Schools share local experiences
In this exchange, students join together to develop understandings of life in Sydney and country New South Wales.
When the City of Blacktown formed a sister council relationship with Liverpool Plains Council, both councils were keen to create links between schools in their local government areas. Mitchell High School already had a number of sister school links overseas (with schools in the USA, Germany, Japan, China and Switzerland) and was keen for their students to gain an understanding of life in country NSW. It formed a cultural exchange partnership with Quirindi High School and Blacktown and Liverpool Plains Councils provided funding for the program.
Mitchell High School is located in Blacktown in the western suburbs of Sydney. The school has over 1,000 students from diverse backgrounds. About half of the students come from language backgrounds other than English while 10% of the students are refugees from Africa. Quirindi High School, a rural school located in the New England Tablelands, has a population of just over 300 students. A significant percentage of students are Indigenous.
The first visit: Mitchell High students travel to Quirindi
In August 2007, thirty students from Mitchell High School travelled to Quirindi as part of an inaugural cultural exchange between the two schools. The program began with students participating in a Tournament of the Minds competition. Teams included students from both schools and the team work and fun generated by preparing for the competition quickly broke down any shyness between the students.
Mitchell High School students loved their time being billeted by Quirindi families on local farms or in town. A school dance highlighted both the similarities and differences between the daily lives of both groups. A formal assembly was held at which the mayors of both councils acknowledged the bond between the two schools. The assembly included performances by Quirindi and Mitchell High School students and a tree planting ceremony was conducted at a local dam as well as in the main street of Quirindi.
The reciprocal visit: Quirindi High students arrive in Sydney
In May 2008, thirty Quirindi High School students travelled to Blacktown to visit Mitchell High School. Their visit coincided with the Blacktown Festival where they were the guests of honour. A school dance was held on the first night and a welcome assembly held the next day. The welcome assembly included performances by the Quirindi Aboriginal dancers and a contemporary dance by Mitchell High students.
The Tournament of the Minds competition was a highlight with students in mixed teams acting out solutions to a very complex problem. The following day, Mitchell High students and their Quirindi High billets toured Sydney taking in the sites of Manly Beach, the harbour, the Sydney Opera House and city centre. For many Quirindi students, this was their first experience of Sydney. The following Saturday, Quirindi High students marched alongside Mitchell High students in the Blacktown Festival street parade.
Today the Mitchell/Quirindi exchange program continues to grow with Mitchell High School.