ST Mary MacKillop School, Birkdale, made history when staff and students had the honour of staging the international premiere of the anti-bullying play Have You Filled A Bucket Today?
An added bonus for the school was the presence of the play’s writer Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead, who flew in from New York to witness the performance.
Halstead, an associate professor at St Lawrence University in New York, based her play on United States author Carol McCloud’s award-winning book about Trey, a Year 4 student who learns about “Bucket fillers”, people who help without being asked, give hugs and compliments and generally spread good feelings, during a summer camp.
Guidance counsellor Judy Butler said producing the play was a mammoth undertaking for the school.
She said the school had achieved some significant firsts – the first international production and the first time the play was performed by children.
An impressed Halstead said she was honoured and humbled her play was produced in Australia with a creative and innovative staff and student community.
“I was especially excited to have the opportunity to discuss the issue of bullying with the St Mary MacKillop staff who are as determined as we are in the USA to address the problem,” she said.
“I believe we need to do so with new and creative mediums and I hope my play will help in some way.”
Halstead said the children preformed so well and it was great to watch their confidence grow.
“I am so proud of all of them, and I sincerely enjoyed my time with them,” she said.
The play was the culmination of the school’s three-week student protection program, which first raised the concept of “bucket-filling” as a way to get students to support each other to create safe and friendly schools.
The cast consisted of students from the school’s drama club under the guidance of drama teacher Terry Larson, as well as staff members.
Ms Butler said the bucket-filling concept had given students something tangible to say to others and be instantly understood, which was making a positive difference to interactions between students.
“The enthusiasm of the students from Prep to Year 7 is amazing to be a part of as they are learning both to acknowledge positive behaviours and be more able to stand up for themselves,” she said.