Croker kids conjure dragon karma

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Croker Island children aim to step into the belly of a marine monster. The seagoing leviathan is a seven-metre long dragon boat — dubbed The Bunyip — to be built by Mamaruni School students.

Powered by 10 paddlers, the boat will be manufactured by 13 to 18-year-old Aboriginal students participating in the Croker Island Dragon Boat Project — an Employment Pathways initiative overseen by teacher Jotham Krom.

“The dragon boats have fired the imagination of our students, and we are clearing construction space and organising building materials,” he said.

“Our project-based curriculum seeks to boost proficiency in literacy and numeracy, enhance students’ career oriented skills, and maximise their employment opportunities.

“The students are improving their numeracy and literacy by getting quotes for timber and materials, planning out resources and budgets, and by writing away for sponsorship and grants.

“Most students have limited tool handling experience and have never seen anything like this. Boat building is highly motivating work, but it also requires a commitment to teamwork, accuracy and quality workmanship.”

Students Wunyidirri Beckett, Luke Dhamarrandji and Shennal Beckett, are addressing the program differently.

“I want to learn how to use a drill, saw and hammer,” said Luke. “We will have to work together to get this done.”

“This is a chance to do something that will be remembered for a long time,” said Wunyidirri. “I want to see how to work with fibreglass.”

“I look forward to paddling it for the first time,” said Shennal.

Mr Krom said challenges such as dragon boat building are opportunities to build connections between the school and the community.

“We are always looking for ways to engage students, parents, and all Croker Island community members,” he said.

“Many Minjilang residents can remember a large dugout canoe being built by local men more than 20 years ago.

“Some adults recall old dugout canoes on the local beach when they were kids.”

During a celebration to mark its launch, scheduled for September 25 this year, the boat will be donated to the community.

Croker kids conjure dragon karma
Students await new building instructions.

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