Knox Grammar School
A Uniting Church Boarding and Day School for Boys
Knox Grammar School offers AIEF Scholarships for boarding students.
Knox Grammar School – 2021 Report
John Weeks, Headmaster
2021 was a very productive year for the boys involved in the AIEF Scholarship Program, despite the challenges that Covid presented to both the boys and their communities. There have been many proud moments for me as a Headmaster as I witness the growth and maturity of our young men in the AIEF Program. All the boys demonstrate an immense pride in their culture and are involved in many diverse activities across the school including the Knox Pipe Band, track and field, drama and musical productions, the Cultural Dance Group, the Ku-ring-gai Special Olympics Fun Run, participation in the international OPEN Network Spaceship Planet Earth event, and Surf Life Saving.
I was very proud to attend the graduation ceremony hosted by AIEF of our Year 12 student Kyh, a 2021 Prefect, who also achieved School Colours for track and field, rugby and Pipe Band. Kyh has been working towards his future as he also has early entry into Macquarie University Walanga Muru. Kyh joined us in Year 7 on an AIEF Scholarship and has risen to the challenge to participate in all aspects of school life, and has succeeded academically. Kyh was the recipient of the "Exceptional Contribution to the Community" award as part of the 2020 National Boarding Awards, and he has continued to mentor the younger boys in the program.
Our Reconciliation and NAIDOC Ceremonies in 2021 were exceptional. All were student-led and the Reconciliation Week events the boys participated in included traditional dancing before and during the ceremonies led by Uncle Den Barber. Kyh made a powerful speech about racism and how its prevention is the responsibility of all. His message was courageous and a timely reminder that Reconciliation starts with mutual respect of all peoples.
Our usual NAIDOC week celebrations, which include a cultural day and Indigenous rounds of all sports, were put on hold due to the lockdown. However, each boy in conjunction with their families, produced a film clip of what NAIDOC Week means to them and their community.
The boys shared their powerful stories and their vison for a future Australia where full Reconciliation and Truth Telling are important to the future of all Australians. We are proud of the way the boys share their knowledge and culture with us so openly, and in so doing enrich our Knox community.
A fellow Knox Prefect emphasised the contribution of our Indigenous boys to the school community in quoting from the Uluru Statement of the Heart which echoes the enriched partnership we share with the boys and their communities:
'When we (our boys) have power over our (their) destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.'
The boys engage on a regular basis with cultural mentoring guided by Uncle Waylon Boney and now Uncle Den Barber. Many of the boys have been learning their traditional language and have shared this gift with us in their Acknowledgements of Country and in song. Such natural cultural strength has inspired the local community at public events, and also younger students within the Knox community and in local schools.
In our Knox community the focus on the NAIDOC theme of 'Heal Country' has been to have the boys establish a Bush Foods Garden on site and engage in environmental issues with Walgett High School students. It was emphasised that healing was possible through owning our true history and understanding the Uluru Statement of the Heart.
We were very aware that the lockdown created additional pressures for the boys and their families, and Helen Clarke, our Aboriginal Program Coordinator, was in continuous contact with the boys and parents. To support the boys, we provided a program of one to one tutoring and cultural mentoring, and additional data dongles to support them every day. They were therefore able to engage with their academic, TAFE, and cultural studies. This program has led to positive wellbeing outcomes for these boys and their determination to finish school at Knox and graduate at Year 12.
Knox continues to partner with AIEF which supports our Aboriginal students, and we are proud of the contribution the program and the ways all the boys enrich our Knox community.