Please forgive my enthusiasm. I know many of you have attended school assemblies to watch your children, but for me this was a first since I was in primary school & boy, did I enjoy myself.
Last Friday I was at Summer Hill Public School to give a talk for National Schools Tree Day about trees, wildlife & nesting boxes with Inner West WIRES. Five hundred children between the ages of eight to ten, gathered in the Hall with a good number of parents. I was very impressed by the behaviour of the children & the respect they gave to their peers, their teachers & us, the visitors.
I watched a fabulous dance given by a large group of children about being green. Children took roles of responsibility introducing teachers & the next segment. They also took responsibility for crowd control bringing this very large group to absolute quiet. At times you could hear a pin drop.
I was impressed at the peaceful ways the teachers & other students managed to bring the group to order. This is a well-behaved bunch of children & their parents & teachers have much to be proud of them.
Numerous awards were given for all sorts of accomplishments, including teamwork, co-operation & maintaining cleanliness in the playground. These children were well aware that what gets dropped in the area would likely end up in the Cooks River. The school has comprehensive environmental programs & are divided into four wards with two of them being flying foxes & cockatoos.
After I gave my talk about trees, nesting hollows, nesting boxes & tree vandalism, Meg from Inner West WIRES wowed the children with her slideshow & talk. She entertained the children, made them laugh, gasp & also reflect on the damage human beings cause to the environment & to wildlife & she did all this without lecturing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself & judging by the reaction from the children, they did too.
Ed, also from Inner West WIRES, brought along Mythras, his Red-tailed Cockatoo. Myrthras sat with Ed & Meg at the front of the hall during the program. Mythras was quiet until he heard one of the children speak the name ‘Cockatoo’ in an Aboriginal language & then he let out one of their distinctive calls. It astounded a few of the adults around me. It was a very nice coincidence.
After Meg did her presentation, a whole year of students gathered around Ed & Mythras. We asked them to gather into groups of ten, which they did without a fuss. Then Ed & Meg took Mytras around to each group who got to pet him.
This was something quite special, as very few of us get this opportunity. It was only my second time having a Red-tail cockatoo standing on my shoulders. Mythras did not have any negative reaction to the noise of children ending assembly. This bird likes attention & apparently can take as much as he is given.
I thank Summer Hill Public School for their warm welcome, for taking nesting boxes & for giving us this opportunity to talk to their students. This school has lots of trees & a good range of species in their grounds. They also have numerous garden beds filled with native plants & shrubs. I saw a number of birds, including some Lorikeets eating in one of the playgrounds.
After last Friday’s experience I feel much hope for the future. These children are aware of the value of trees, the importance of habitat for wildlife & how people need to take care of the environment for the benefit of all.
I have a few more school talks to give & look forward to these. It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to talk to young people about the value of trees & wildlife & makes what I am trying to do with SoT really worthwhile.