This place is yours and mine
Its called Noongyars and Nungyers which means yours and mine in Bundjalung- and it was in this reconciliatory spirit that Lismore High Schools new Aboriginal Learning Centre was officially opened last Friday, March 16.
As Bundjalung artist and parent Sheldon Harrington Snr and Mayor Merv King cut the ribbons to open the Centre, students poured into the colourfully painted room that is to be a resource and support centre for the schools 61 Aboriginal students, as well as the wider student community.
The centres opening is the realisation of a vision co-created between the Gan-ngah (parents) Committee and the high school in early 2006.
Mark Lindburgh, English teacher and coordinator of the schools Aboriginal programs, said the centre was designed to be a tutorial and learning centre primarily for the schools Aboriginal students.
It will also house an oral history project, recording the students personal stories, (and possibly those of their families), in a book to be used as a school library resource.
The oral history project is not only a way to record local Aboriginal history, it also serves as a literacy project and will help inform the wider community about Aboriginal stories.
The centres bright atmosphere is thanks to a group of dedicated students who spent three months painting intricate murals on two of the the walls, under the guidance and tutelage of Mr Harrington.
One mural Sun, Land and Sea depicts a local landscape while the other is a map that outlines and provides information on the regions various tribes.
The murals were a collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students from start to finish, with everyone learning more about the Aboriginal culture and heritage of the Northern Rivers.
(The practice of) Aboriginal art is soothing, it calms you down, said Mr Harrington.
It comes from the heart, thats how I teach it. The kids got on really fantastically, Ive never seen a group of kids like it. They love the murals, they are over the moon.
Levi Bock, a Year 10 SRC Aboriginal representative said it had been fun doing the paintings.
We had to research places on the map and we learned about where all the tribes come from, which was really good.
Lismore High School principal Keiron Klar said it was not just a room with a painting.
Its what it means, she said. The main outcome is students are very proud of it and they will want to come to school.