Cake and dancing as 'Wiri' celebrates a decade of success

Like its namesake, the eagle hawk, Wiripaang Public School has soared to incredible heights since its opening 10 years ago. Luke Horton reports.

Two students and a teacher cutting a cake. Two students and a teacher cutting a cake.
Image: Wiripaang Public School Principal Julie Low with school leaders Sonny Kennedy and Ezra Miller.

Wiripaang Public School in east Lake Macquarie celebrated its 10th birthday with performances by Aboriginal student dancers and its Year 1 signing choir, as well as cake and a sausage sizzle.

Students from the Minimbah dance group at the nearby Hunter Sports High School joined their younger peers to perform traditional dances, while the signing choir’s rendition of ‘I Am Australian’ was warmly received by students and parents.

Wiripaang, which means ‘eagle hawk’ in the local Awabakal language, opened in 2013 following a successful community-based amalgamation of the former Gateshead and Gateshead West public schools.

Nearly one-third of the school’s 200 students are Aboriginal.

Principal Julie Low said the school’s success had been built on close connections with its community, as well as a committed staff.

“Our 10 years have been an absolute success. That’s down to our students, our community, and of course, our exceptional teaching and support staff,” she said.

Director, Educational Leadership for the Glenrock Principal Network, Steve Harris, presented Ms Low with a Director’s Award at the celebrations in recognition of the school’s efforts to boost attendance and improve literacy and numeracy results.

“Since it opened, Wiripaang Public has become such a vibrant school and community hub,” Mr Harris said.

“Public schools are at the heart of their communities and that is certainly true of Wiripaang. It’s a great school.”

Students from each year group contributed items for a time capsule which was sealed and buried as part of the school’s anniversary celebrations. The time capsule is set to be unsealed in the year 2073.

A teacher holding a certificate with four students. A teacher holding a certificate with four students.
Image: Principal Julie Low with her Director's Award and students Micky Whittaker-Abbouchi, Seanna Labuts, Lily Palmer and Levi Thoms.
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