Now into Term 2, our Academies of Excellence are in full swing! New to the line-up this year is the Agriculture Academy run by Mrs Susan Plum.
Of the addition of the Agriculture Academy to the innovative Academies of Excellence, Mr Craig Moore, the Academies of Excellence co-ordinator, said “The diversity of opportunities available to students through the Academies of Excellence continues to grow and the School of Agriculture has been a great addition to the program. The School of Agriculture gives students the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities that connect them to our wonderful local environment and our local community. It’s great to see what has been achieved by these students in such a short period of time and we’re all looking forward to seeing what they can achieve over the rest of the year.”
Here is a quick snapshot of what the very popular academy (full enrolment this year) has been up to over Term 1 and Term 2.
What is the Agriculture Academy?
The Academy of Agriculture offers an exciting opportunity for students to be involved in setting up and maintaining an agricultural plot on school grounds. The Agriculture Academy gives students the opportunity to work together to use scientific investigation and experimental design in relation to plant growth and development.
This term students worked together to find the most suitable plot on the school grounds in which to plant the vegetable garden. They decided on a plot which housed some lavender plants. Before digging up the plants, they harvested the lavender and, with the assistance of Dr Nelson and the Science Academy, distilled the lavender to make lavender essential oil which they used to make some lovely bath bombs. They also distilled some rosemary to make rosemary essential oil.
Much time was spent deciding on which plants were suitable at this time of year (Term 1) and the students designed the layout of their garden bed. Students then tested the PH of the soil and prepared the bed for planting. This term the students planted various varieties of lettuce and kale and some herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil, coriander and sage.
Nurturing the SMGS Orchard
During the term, students researched how to best take care of the various fruit trees in the orchard on SMGS land. We believe these trees were planted by Snowy Hydro workers and there are a number of interesting European varieties of fruit trees. The students harvested a good crop of mirabelle plums (which are small orange plums) from which they made the plum jam that won first prize at the Dalgety and Cooma Shows. Looking into the future, once the orchard is better established, the students hope to be able to market and sell their produce.
Learning about Shearing at Coolamatong Farm
Last week, the Agriculture Academy students visited Coolamatong Farm in Berridale during shearing. We are very grateful to the Weston family for inviting us and for taking time to explain the different aspects of shearing to the students.
When asked about the outcomes for our students and their time at the Westons’ farm, the Agriculture Academy teacher, Mrs Susan Plum, said, “It was a wonderful hands-on experience for the students as they were invited to have a go at shearing themselves. They also learnt about the different roles in the shearing shed and were given an insight into the rates of pay and costs involved in shearing.”
Our students were equally excited about the experience at the Westons’ farm. Shelby Holland (Year 10) said, “I liked how inclusive it was. Instead of just watching the shearing, we were invited to help the shearers and felt very involved in the process.” Olivia Weston (Year 7) said, “My favourite part of the excursion was showing people what I get to experience regularly”, and her classmate, Cat Stynes Garratty (Year 7), said, “My favourite part of the excursion was that I experienced shearing a sheep.”
Where to now?
The Agriculture Academy continues to be a student driven academy with the participants working on a number of projects that interest them. During Term 2, they are getting their hands dirty maintaining the garden bed they designed in Term 1. They are also working on a composting system for the school which will enable the school’s food scrap waste to be utilised to make high quality compost. In the coming weeks, the students will be implementing the care plans for the fruit trees in the old orchard on school grounds. Students are also excited to be planning for accommodating some chickens on school grounds and are looking forward to caring for the chickens. Finally, the students plan to visit a number of other local agricultural enterprises and are looking forward to our first “paddock to the plate” culinary experience for the term.
Academies of Excellence
With credible research demonstrating that students in education across the globe are disengaging from learning and school, at Snowy Mountains Grammar School we are heading in the opposite direction and engaging students in areas in which they love to learn.
SMGS has introduced a program called the Academies of Excellence, an innovative educational elective program available to students from Year 7 onwards. The program is designed to inspire and engage students in their choice of a broad range of interests and opportunities. It is imperative that students have opportunities to experience a range of subjects and in this program students can elect to try a new elective each term, semester, year or continue for several years. Excellence can be attained when students remain with a program over a longer period.
In addition, our students also learn the full complement of the rigorous Australian Curriculum administered through NSW BOSTES and successfully complete the Higher School Certificate in Year 12.