The 2017 History Here pilot program paired students from Borenore Public School, Mullion Creek Public School, Spring Hill Public School, Cudal Public School and Manildra Public School with heritage-minded seniors. The students interviewed the seniors for inspiration for their film-scripts. The students also helped write a music score and performed the stories on camera.
“Students were excited and enthused by the realisation that interesting, dramatic and significant events occurred where they live,” Paul Stafford said.
The short films by each school cover local stories:
Mullion Creek Public School – The Story of Ophir Joe (an early discoverer of
big gold at Ophir, as opposed to Hargraves’ few specks)
Borenore Public School – The story of Frank Rusconi, discoverer of marble
at Borenore (described as the best in the world)
Cudal Public School – The story of Max Hazleton, founder of Hazleton Airlines (which beget Rex) who survived a crash in the bush in the Cox River Catchment, sustaining no injuries apart from a broken watch) and wandered starving for 6 days through wild canyons
Manildra Public School – story of Allan Tom who founded Amusu Theatre
(the oldest continuous running in Australia) Spring Hill Public School did an interpretation of the Man from Ironbark. “The link according to Principal McAnulty is that Banjo Paterson is buried down the road so they own him,” Stafford said.
During five-day long workshops at each participating school, students were taught skills in research, interviewing and writing. Students learnt techniques
in using source materials, combining these with their own research – including talking to seniors – to create a set of compelling historical scripts. The stories were filmed on the final day of the workshop. Students were asked to engage
at least one senior citizen in their personal research of the event (grandparent, neighbour, family friend) and ask that person about their memories of that or other incidents in the district.
“In this way senior citizens were drawn into the information loop - they enjoyed being questioned about their experiences, and students were reminded how important a role seniors play as repositories of cultural memory and information,” Mr Stafford. “The seniors in the project essentially became both the source material themselves and the script consultants.”
Parents were invited to have input into the project, via their own information and/or assisting with period costume. Students were encouraged to share
what they had learnt with their parents, with a view to increasing community awareness of local events of historical significance.
“Students don’t have a large connection with the region’s history. History Here aimed to change that lack of awareness through connecting youth with seniors and highlighting the value of using historical events as the foundation for creative output,” Mr Stafford said.
Feedback from teachers and parents included:
“It was great for kids to get a better understanding of their own local history.”
“The process of researching a local event or character, then writing a script
and acting it out, really brought the story to life.”
“I was amazed at some of the things that had happened in my own backyard that I was unaware of.”
“We have such a rich history here in the Central West – projects like this help keep it alive, especially among kids.”
The films were screened to a full house at AMUSU Cinema in Manildra NSW, and will also be screened as part of the Orange Youth Arts Festival in 2018.
The History Here project was made possible through a grant from the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage’s Community Youth and Seniors Heritage Grants 2016-2017.
Films can be viewed @
Paul Stafford Interview courtesy of Arts OutWest