Award to Winmalee High

Winmalee High School students and staff have won a highly commended award in the 2016 Resilient Australia Awards schools category for their project Straw Hats, Thongs & Toothbrushes.

Award: Emergency services minister David Elliott, students Natalie Schroder, Flynn Mackay, Emma Johnston, teacher Madeleine Sheehy and deputy premier, Troy Grant.

Award: Emergency services minister David Elliott, students Natalie Schroder, Flynn Mackay, Emma Johnston, teacher Madeleine Sheehy and deputy premier, Troy Grant.

The award recognised the significant contribution the project made in building a more disaster resilient community.

Straw Hats, Thongs & Toothbrushes was a play developed by year 9, 10 and 11 drama students from the ground up.

Its distinctive name came about after hundreds of straw fedora hats and ugly yellow rubber thongs were donated to the school after the October 2013 bushfires, as well as nearly a thousand toothbrushes.

They were deemed the most impractical donations of all, hence the name of the play.

The students worked with a Newtown-based theatre group, Zeal, on developing their concepts. 

Drama teacher, Madeleine Sheehy, said she believed that drama would continue the healing process that so many students had been through after losing all in the fires.

The students interviewed friends and family (year 9), the school community (year 10) and the broader community (year 11) including the mayor, police, RFS volunteers and others affected by or involved with the fires.

They then developed the play.

The deputy premier, Troy Grant, and minister for emergency services, David Elliott, presented the students with their award at a ceremony in Parliament House earlier this month.

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