A creative approach to wellbeing has placed 39 choir and dance students and one violinist from St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School Central Bankstown centre stage at the 2023 Positive Schools Wellbeing in Action Conference.
The students sang and performed to Coldplay and The Chainsmoker’s collaboration Something just like this and Hall and Oats’ You make my dreams come true at the Sydney Masonic Centre on 26 October.
The students belong to lunchtime dance and choir clubs formed at the school in February to help build an environment for students to thrive.
Confidence in context
The students were invited to perform at this year’s Positive Schools conference by applied social psychologist Dr Helen Street, whose work on contextual wellbeing forms the basis of St Brendan’s whole-school approach to wellbeing.
Staff completed professional development with Dr Street after St Brendan’s Principal, Patricia Laidler, and Leader of Diverse Learning and Wellbeing, Michelle Coupland, saw her present at the Positive Schools Conference in 2022.
“We are so proud of our shining stars – students and teachers alike.” – Ann-Maree Vyvyan
Dr Street framed an educator’s role as not to tell someone how to be well or to reward them for behaving well, but to provide the right context and environment for students to flourish.
Assistant principal Ann-Maree Vyvyan said the dance and choir clubs had helped St Brendan’s culturally diverse student population to build friendships, self-esteem, resilience, and a sense of belonging.
“These students now have the confidence to go back into the classrooms and, in small group collaborative activities, lead their peers in discussion,” she said.
“They are volunteering to stand up in front of others and perform.
“Our students have loved the opportunity of sharing their talents with an audience outside our Sydney Catholic Schools community by opening the Positive Schools Conference. As a community we are so proud of our shining stars – students and teachers alike.”
Students in the spotlight
Year 5 student Zara Raya and Celine Nguyen, in Year 4, both performed at the conference.
Zara credits the twice-weekly choir rehearsals for her newfound courage in front of larger audiences and willingness to sing solo or do longer readings at church.
“It has given me a whole bunch of confidence,” she said.
“The choir teachers are really nice and teach us in a way that helps us to remember the words to songs. It’s really fun, it brightens up my day. I’ve made new friends in the choir as well.”
Celine said jazz was her favourite style of dance among the lunchtime club’s offerings.
“I love that we get to bond with everyone and we learn so much,” she said.