Bangalay festival builds budding student writers

The Bangalay Literary Festival attracted dozens of enthusiastic student writers from Sydney’s northern suburbs. Pascal Adolphe reports.

Four students sitting on a couch looking at laptops. Four students sitting on a couch looking at laptops.
Image: Northern suburb public school students collaborating to produce great stories at the Bangalay Literary Festival.

The Bangalay Literary Festival promotes a love of literature, celebrating reading and writing in the community of public schools known as the Northern Sydney Entente Cordiale (NS EC).

The NS EC was instigated by Ryde Secondary College in 2013 with the aim of fostering collaboration in public education.

It has grown into a community of nine high schools, which include Riverside Girls, Marsden High, North Sydney Boys, Cammeraygal High, Chatswood High and The Forest High.

The Bangalay Literary Festival concept was developed by two staff members from Chatswood High and The Forest High, Kate Wealleans and Sarah Peachman, for students in Stage 4.

Ryde Secondary College principal Cassy Norris said the festival was a three-part event offering students an opportunity to work with local authors to produce a fiction or non-fiction piece inspired by their landscape, culture, or other issues.

“The first event was at Chatswood High. Students had an audience with guest authors Yvette Poshoglian and Felicity Pulman,” Ms Norris said.

“They were given free copies of their novels to read and discuss, then participated in writers’ workshops to begin planning their creative pieces.

During the second event at The Forest High in Term 2, students participated in a writing presentation to develop their personal style, before the guest authors returned to discuss their novels and engage in some creative writing activities.

Ms Norris said Ryde Secondary College hosted the third event, where students had an opportunity to reflect on their ideas, enjoy some intensive writing time, and collaborate with their peers.

“Their submissions are in a variety of forms, including journalism, graphic novels, poetry, and short fiction. All of them have been inspired by their local areas in accordance with the focus of the initiative,” she said.

“It was a pleasure to see the students work confidently and productively with peers from different schools and year groups. They got a great deal out of sharing their ideas and hearing from others.

Ms Wealleans and Ms Peachman said they were looking forward to seeing the completed works from students.

"We're excited to see their final products next term and can't wait for the showcase, where the e-book will be launched on the website and students will be invited to do a reading of their literary submissions," they said.

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