Loreto Rural Partnership
Rural life is at the heart of so much that happens at Loreto Normanhurst, particularly through our connections in the Boarding School with communities across the country. The Loreto Rural Partnership is an opportunity for Year 10 students to immerse themselves in two western NSW communities – Dunedoo and Coolah – and to build and strengthen relationships with their school communities.
This partnership is first and foremost between the local Catholic primary schools of St Michael’s Primary School in Dunedoo and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Coolah. A total of 13 Loreto Normanhurst students spent this week sharing their love of learning through planned lessons and classroom involvement. Most significantly, the value of friendship and ongoing understanding is at the core of this partnership. Students today return to ‘normal life’ with a greater awareness of the joys and challenges of rural living and its necessity in Australian society.
The ongoing drought is an ever-present reality in the Dunedoo and Coolah communities. Current statics show that 100% of the state is still classified as being in drought with 15.7% drought affected, 48.7% in drought and 35.6% experiencing intense drought. The resilience and innovation of farmers has been an eye-opening experience for students for whom the drought does not affect everyday. Farmers and families from both Dunedoo and Coolah have opened their homes to share their care of the land, love of animals and to educate students on the variety of ways they have employed to ride out the severity of this drought. After school activities have included shearing, visits to the Men’s Shed in Dunedoo, work experience with the vet in Coolah and visits to various family farms.
Special thanks to Sr Margaret Flood, Principal, St Michael’s, staff and the Dent family in Dunedoo as well as Mr Newton O’Dea, Principal, Sacred Heart, staff and the Hallett family in Coolah for the warm welcome and care they have showed us. Students were accompanied on this immersion by Mrs Melanie Oxley and Mrs Hannah Truong and I also extend my thanks to them for their care of the students and generosity of their time.
Mr Phillip Merchant