Snags and sauerkraut, Bollywood and butter chicken

How many nationalities do you think we have represented at Kew Primary? I checked with Robin and the office staff and we came up with thirty-one:

American, Argentinian, Australian, Bosnian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Chilean, Chinese,  Croatian, French,  German, Ghanaian, Greek Indian, Italian, Iranian, Iraqi, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese, Malaysian, New Zealander, Nigerian, Pakistani, Polish, Samoan, Solomon Islander, Sri Lankan,  Swiss and Thai. (Let us know if we left you out).

I love the fact that my kids are hanging out every day with kids who have a connection to another part of the world; I think that’s fantastic and really important. This year the Peppercorn BBQ is celebrating this fabulous cultural diversity with a World Food and Dance Celebration! I asked Emma Moore, Angela Gill and Claire Tanner from the PTA to tell me about the event.morris

Claire: Last year the PTA ran a very successful end of year Peppercorn BBQ Aussie Bush Dance. All the kids got to learn some bush dancing during the day and really enjoyed dancing with parents and teachers to an Aussie bush band in the evening.

This year we thought it would be good to run an event that celebrated our cultural diversity and encouraged involvement and belonging amongst all our families at school. So the idea arose to have a World Food and Dance event as our end of year Peppercorn BBQ celebration.

One of the goals of the PTA is to engender a strong sense of community and belonging and part of that is encouraging respect and learning across cultures and that builds on the school values of our CARE program (Cooperation, Acceptance, Respect and Excellence). We also want to encourage people to have fun which happens when everyone feels welcome and able to celebrate their uniqueness. 

We’re also hoping to raise some money, of course, which will go towards our cooling solutions. The first stage, which includes the junior school and performing arts room, will cost around $58,000 and so far the PTA has raised $42,000 towards the cost. School Council will also contribute and the work will begin on 7th January, 2014!


Jacqui: So what will the kids be learning during the day?

Emma: We’ve organised a dance/music incursion which includes an African drumming and dance group, Salaka, and an Indian music troupe, the Bollywood Beats. The kids will all have a turn at drumming and doing some dance routines and they’ll learn about African music and culture. Bollywood Beats will do some demonstrations with costumes and music and then give the kids lessons.salakatour_1

In the evening, a festival of world music and dance will be presented by Stomp Dance Company, showcasing music from around the world and incorporating dances that have been learnt during the incursion and throughout the year.  Stomp will run the world music dance from 5.00 pm in the evening to truly celebrate the end of the school year.stomp

We’re also encouraging parents to volunteer to teach their national dance in the evening, be it a bush whacker or Zorba the Greek; we’d love the children to see and experience it all. You can check out all the dance companies here: Salaka: Bollywood Beats: Stomp:.

Jacqui: Sounds great. I used to do a mean Morris dance in my youth…?! And what about the food?

Angela: There will be Indian food – organic butter chicken curry, dhal and rice – provided and prepared by Jolly and Ruby Ghuman (Grade 1) who run Fitz Curry Cafe, at 44 Johnston Street in Fitzroy. Polish sausages will be served in a bread roll with sauerkraut provided and cooked by Eva and John Tomacwicz (Prep).indian food

We’re also hoping to provide toffee strawberry and grape skewers (Cora Pang, Grade 1), Lebkuchen (and possibly Turkish delight) (Alex St Clair, Grade 4), Pice ar y maen or Welsh cakes (Dylan Coleman, Grade 4), Koripedes or Greek shortbread biscuits (Simone Manning, Prep), gazpacho (Tania LeConte, Prep) and a Persian traditional dessert (Zohreh, Prep).welsh cakes

And there will also be some plain beef sausages in bread cooked by BBQ expert Chett Beavis (Grade 3) and his team of helpers.

Jacqui: That’s a huge effort. Who’s involved in the organising and do you need any more help?

Emma: We’ve got a great team who have been working really hard to make this a success. We will be needing help from the parent community and class reps will be sending around rosters so people can put their name down to help out with the various jobs. We’ll need help setting up before the event (starting at 2.00 pm) and cleaning up afterwards, and teams to help serve drinks and food.

This event will only be a success if everyone makes it a priority to come along. You can pre-book your world food on Hope to see you there. Friday 13th December, 5.00pm-8.00pm.

Any of the PTA organisers (below) can answer your questions or give you a job! And, don’t forget to support our sponsors.

Coordinator: Emma Moore (Grade 2 & 4) Music/Dance: Emma Moore, Tahnee Planner and Robin Grace, Bar: Rachel Naylor (Prep), Joanna Szeszycka (Grade 2 & 4) and Fiona Hollingsworth (grade 1 & 3), Food:Angela Gill (Grade 2) and Claire Tanner (Grade 2 & prep), Rosters:Emma Cooney (Grade 1 & Prep), Fiona Hollingsworth, Fairy floss etc.: Loraine Trist (Grade 4) and Belinda Holmes (Grade 4 & 2), Giving Tree:Grade 5s and Clare Connor.

Sponsors:Kew Baker’s Delight is donating bread (thanks Jeb) and Gourmet Meats, Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn is donating 500 sausages (thanks Josh and Luke).

John and Ting Zhou Ling (Grade 1) are generously donating Zilzie red and white wine (thanks, guys).

Jacqui Tomlins

Tackling a perennial problem…

As I arrived at school last Monday morning I wandered up to a group of mums having a chat; I assumed it was about their weekend or how great the ‘CARE’ chairs looked. ‘I’m waiting to see Robin Grace,’ said one.  ‘Nits! I’m over it…’

This started a conversation between us that I’ve had on many other occasions at school or over coffee. A staff member joined us and said that she’d seen lice crawling around in kids’ hair and she even saw one travelling across a child’s forehead!!  I’ve heard stories like these before too. One of my children has told me on numerous occasions that she can see the lice moving around in her classmates’ hair!  If this topic is starting to make you scratch your own head, read on!


As parents, we cringe when we receive the notice in the school bag: IMPORTANT INFORMATION… A CASE OF HEADLICE IN GRADE 1 HAS BEEN REPORTED TO THE OFFICE etc. Of course, lice and school age children can go hand in hand, but what is frustrating for parents, however, is when those notices keep coming home regularly which invariable means that some parents are disregarding them.  I’m also positive that not all cases of head lice are reported to the office. So how big is this problem really?

When you receive that notice in the school bag, do you check your child’s hair, or do you think: they’re not scratching, they’re fine, they don’t have them, or do you take quick peek and dismiss the thought of having to treat the child’s hair, wash the bed linen etc. because it’s too hard/ you’re too busy/there’s no money in the purse to buy the treatment products?lice 2

I was guilty of that myself a while ago, and kept getting frustrated when my daughter kept getting lice not too long after each treatment. It turned out it was my son who was maintaining a nice little colony in his hair!  According to him, his head wasn’t itchy!! And I couldn’t spot anything! Lesson learnt: treat all the kids at once!!

It’s worth remembering:

  • Lice are not fussy – they love any hair, clean or dirty
  • If found, you must treat the hair, wash bed linen, towels, hats etc.; the lice don’t move out!
  • You must repeat treatment after 7 days.

I asked at the school some time ago if there are blanket checks of all students from time to time. I was informed that the school are unable to do this because of privacy constraints. Some  schools nearby have  a ‘head lice consent to check’ form signed by parent s at the beginning of the school year with all the other consent forms which enables a DEECD representative to visit the school and conduct checks or have the school nurse/staff check. I am certainly not suggesting students be singled out publicly, but a letter home to parents requesting treatment would be appropriate.

The current KPS head lice policy on our school’s website states:

  • A pilot program will be undertaken in 2010 to minimise the presence of lice within the school population and to educate the school community about the management of lice. Written consent will be sought from each KPS family.
  • As part of this program a trained person (e.g. school nurse) will be employed to check each student’s hair at the start of the year and again about 7-10 days later. All students who are examined for head lice will be given a letter to indicate the presence or absence of eggs or lice at that time…

This policy was due for review in 2012 and, according to the parents I speak to, the problem is persistent so perhaps it’s time to prioritise that review?lice 3

In the meantime:

  • Please take a good look in your child’s hair, especially behind the ears and at the nape of the neck.
  • If your child does have head lice or their eggs (nits) – PLEASE treat it and report it to the office; the office staff are very friendly and there’s no need to be embarrassed. This is the only way that the school can monitor the problem and keep families informed.
  • Students with shoulder length hair or longer must tie it back as per our current Student Dress Code policy.
  • Next time a notice comes home – treat anyway – you may be surprised what you find!

For treatment advice, options and more information, please refer to:

Nikki McConnon

Blog’s birthday!

This week it’s Blog’s birthday and to celebrate Blog has been featured in the local paper, Progress Leader. If you haven’t seen the real-life version:  Blogging a school’s life (page 13) you can check it out on-line here: HB1

I started Blog a year ago with the aim of engaging the broad school community in the school’s day-to day life. I wanted to showcase some of the great things that are happening, promote debate about current practices, share parents’ concerns and pass on their thoughts and advice to others.

I’ve been helped in this by a host of guest bloggers who have taken the time to write their personal stories, or discuss topics of importance to them and the school community generally.  Lots of staff have agreed to be interviewed and photographed and have let me take up their lunch break or preparation time.

So for this week I am going to reflect on some of the highlights of Blog’s first year.


There have been 36 posts in all with many of those provided by our guest bloggers. Those posts have been viewed in 65 countries around the world. In total there have been 8, 614 views of the site so far.

We’ve had 50 comments in all which is very respectable. (Other bloggers will know how hard it is to get people to comment!)  I’ve had many, many more comments and lots of conversations in the playground and over coffee about some of the topics discussed which has been great.

We’ve covered student well-being and resilience, art and sport, communication, fees and funding, healthy eating and body image, chooks and the garden, the canteen, bike riding, iPads, book reviews, swimming, chess, volunteering, school council, holidaying around the country, pen-friends, Flower Power trivia night, Grade 6 Leadership, local fund-raisers,  World Teacher’s day, a host of teacher interviews and some farewells.HB6

If we were to have a medal ceremony for the top posts in Blog’s birthday year it would go something like this:

Bronze Medal to Nikki’s McConnon’s  blog about vision therapy. I think we really like to hear other parents’ stories and I’m always grateful when people are willing to share their personal experiences.

Silver Medal to Scout Nichols Tomlins for accidentally spending $1372.27 on in-app purchases in record breaking time and to Sarah Nichols for staying up all night to work out how to get it back.

The Gold Medal would definitely go to the fantastic story shared by Shelley Ware about her community and the extraordinary achievements of her father, Bob Ware (306 views on the day and many more afterwards).  It’s my favourite too.HB2

I’m looking forward to Blog’s next year and to more great stories and playground discussions. If you’d like to write for the Blog, or if you have an idea for a story, please let me know.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped along the way.

Jacqui Tomlins