Exploring some exceptional Aussies

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Year 6 students from Our Lady Star of the Sea at Miranda dressed to impress. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Year 6 students from Our Lady Star of the Sea at Miranda dressed to impress. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Filling the shoes of some prominent Australians was all in a day’s work for students from Our Lady Star of the Sea at Miranda.

Saint Mary MacKillop, Charlie Teo, Guy Sebastian, Matthew Flinders, Tim Cahill and Nancy Wake were just some of the notable Aussies researched and brought to life by the Year 6 students as part of their history syllabus.

Tasked with researching people of Christian values, as well as being admirable for making a positive contribution to humanity, some of the notables included were Australian wheelchair sportsman Dylan Alcott, Dr Victor Chang, John Howard, Olivia Newton-John, Adam Goodes, Hugh Jackman and Turia Pitt.

And some not-so-well known but equally deserving Aussies included orthopaedic surgeon Munjed Al Muderis, Australia’s oldest person and volunteer Violet Robbins, amputee golfer Geoff Nicholas and Australian emergency medicine specialist and former Senior Australian of the Year, Dr Gordian Fulde, whose stories are both incredibly powerful and inspirational.

Year 6 teacher Alison Frost said getting the students to not only research but to dress up and become the person they studied gave them a real insight into their life.

She said the students were learning in a fun and interactive way about prominent people who have helped make Australia the country it is today.

“The project gives students an opportunity to step into the shoes of the person they have researched, to speak from their perspective and show what they have learned through their research,” she said.

“The students often made comments about how much they enjoyed learning about their notable and speaking from their perspective, while embracing the opportunity to be creative.

“This engaging event is designed to elevate the students’ understanding of the qualities, characteristics and challenges that are part of every successful, ‘notable’ person’s life.

Jackson Arena explores the past as Matthew Flinders. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Jackson Arena explores the past as Matthew Flinders. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“It is meant to inspire them to nurture and develop their gifts and talents in order to make our world a better place.”

Eleven-year-old Lachie Edgell, who featured singer Guy Sebastian, said that while he loves his music it was the work that he and wife Jules do for those marginalised in society that earned him his respect.

He said The Sebastian Foundation is one that a lot of people aren’t aware of but that does tremendous work for those who don’t have a family through underprivilege, serious illness or domestic violence.

“He’s one of my favourite singers and his music is really cool but it’s the other stuff he does away from the cameras for those in need that I think is amazing,” he said.

“He has set up seven shelters for women who face domestic violence and have nowhere else to go.

“He doesn’t have to do any of that stuff but takes it upon himself to help others which really is very special.”

Angela De Frenza, 12, selected Saint Mary MacKillop to emulate due to her hard work and lifetime of support in educating children.

Angela De Frenza, 12, dressed up as Saint Mary MacKillop. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Angela De Frenza, 12, dressed up as Saint Mary MacKillop. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

She said that through her research she discovered she’d had a very difficult childhood but still managed to become Australia’s first saint.

“She had a very hard time as a kid, her dad used to gamble the family’s money away so she was forced to get a job at just 14,” she said.

“Yet despite such a rough start she still wanted to help others and set up schools and was very special for her faithfulness, generosity, bravery, compassion and holiness.

“She has set a very good example for us all to follow and someone I really look up to.”

Vet-to-be Sophie Chew selected renowned neurosurgeon Charlie Teo quite simply for “making such a huge difference to everyday people”.

She said his work was a real inspiration and motivation for her to aim at studying veterinary science.

“He really is amazing, he has not only changed but saved so many lives,” she said.

“Seeing the work he does really inspires me to be the best I can be and hopefully one day that will mean being a vet.

“He is a very interesting person and I have learnt so much not only about him but about resilience and not giving up from him.”