By Linda Douglas, Principal at Ruyton Girls’ School in Melbourne
Sitting in the audience of the Year 6 Musical, I could not stop smiling. As I looked around at other audience members, it was clear that I was not alone. The sheer enthusiasm, talent and joy exuding from the stage was being reflected in the faces and the reaction of the audience. We were taken on a journey with Jojo the Boy, Horton, Gertrude McFuzz, The Cat in the Hat and the Whos, a journey where we marvelled at the ability of the girls to bring to life the story of Seussical Jr.
As always at Ruyton, there were many meaningful connections across our community at the performance. The girls were so well supported by staff and by parents; both their own families, and the parents backstage helping with costumes and makeup. In the audience that night were young women from the Class of 2014, who as Year 6 girls in 2008 had also performed Seussical Jr. Their sheer joy in returning to our Royce Theatre and seeing their Year 6 Musical come to life again was in itself a treat. And then there were the current Year 12 girls. When the Year 6 girls were in Prep these girls were their Year 6 buddies. The pride of the Year 12 girls in seeing their younger buddies take command of Royce Theatre was both endearing and empowering. It was truly a night to remember.
Recently our Year 8 girls undertook the exciting Signature Programme, Urban Escape, where they collaborated in small groups to devise, create and execute an Escape Room in less than a week. The interactive format of team-based problem-posing and problem-solving within a narrative thread, provided an ideal learning challenge. The opportunity for our Year 6 and 7 students to also participate to solve the Urban Escape challenges provided an important part of their learning process. They were presented with insights into what lies ahead, and the experience of completing a challenge before creating their own Escape Rooms in future years.
The sharing of learning across year levels is a regular feature of our school through Classroom Snapshots and Values presentations in Junior School Assemblies as well as our Open Classrooms. Our Pre Preps are involved in shared learning when they visit and work with Year 4. Our Senior School girls provide exemplary examples by devising vibrant, creative and elaborate House performances, including students in Years 7 to 12 for the Ruyton Performing Arts House Festival (PAHF).
These experiences reinforce to our girls the value of a shared learning experience and the many varied and valuable roles of learner, mentor and mentee.