Yesterday, Tuesday 27 March, was an exciting day for the Junior School with the opening of the new Centre for Inquiry and Innovation (CII). Mrs Nicole Armatas, Deputy Head and Head of Junior School, led the event, joined by many special guests including Mr Andrew Eddy, Chair of the Board and Mr Gerard Houlihan, Head of the School, staff and the entire Junior School.
The afternoon began with an Acknowledgement of Country from our Year 6 Co-Vice Captains Amelie (6I) and Tommy (6E). The Harrison Choir (P-2) also performed a traditional Indigenous Australian lullaby sung in Yorta Yorta language. The Junior School have been leaders within the School in paying respect to, and learning about, Aboriginal culture, both locally (on Boon Wurrung Country) and across the nation. We know that the CII will continue to promote their curiosity, their engagement and their connection to the land, waters and skies.
Already this term, the Year 2 students have welcomed Jaeden Williams (Boon Wurrung community member) to the CII. This interactive experience focused on Indigenous connection to place and cultural understandings of seasons. Jaeden’s storytelling was invaluable to our students, and they had many opportunities to ask questions and inquire. The CII is a wonderful learning environment where our Junior School students can learn and play and where they have already had so many key learning opportunities.
Student voice and agency are integral to St Michael’s and our way of being, so naturally students have played a key role in influencing the design of the building and how the spaces are used. During the design process students expressed the importance of feeling that they were learning surrounded by nature. Careful attention was therefore given to the landscaping around the CII and, in collaboration with our maintenance and gardening team, the Environmental and RAP Club students planted shrubs in a vertical garden on the eastern side of the CII.
Many students have already had the privilege of using this space for their classes, Signature Programs and lunchtime clubs. From reading in the Early Years, to learning about the history of the School and making pancakes in the kitchen on Shrove Tuesday, the learning experiences in the CII are interactive, inquiry driven and always complement the important work they do in their class-based-learning.
Our thanks to the architect, builders, landscapers and staff who have helped this vision come to fruition. We know the children will continue to have a plethora of valuable experiences in this space for years to come.