Avondale School celebrates STORM Co milestone

The STORM Co team with community members in front of the mural. (Photo: Jonathan Christian).

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Avondale School (NSW) has celebrated its 20th consecutive year of STORM Co service in the New South Wales town of Cobar.

The most recent trip took place during July’s mid-year school holidays, with 32 students and staff members forming the 20th anniversary team.

A unique feature of this year’s trip was the mentoring that took place between the Avondale team and youth from the local community. Ten young people from Cobar, as well as another five who returned to the rural town to specifically take part in STORM Co, assisted the Avondale team in running programs and activities throughout the week.

The morning activities took place in the Cobar Primary School hall, and comprised of a combination of music, drama, puppetry, games, face painting and crafts, focusing on the theme of “celebration”. Each afternoon, the team was involved in community projects, ranging from moving mulch for the primary school to “Pick a Street”—randomly cleaning and gardening for Cobar residents free of charge.

A special event was held on the Monday, where a Pinnacle Challenge mobile recreation trailer was provided to allow kids to challenge themselves by rock-climbing and leaping out to a trapeze bar. The team also connected with local churches to provide Kids’ Club activities.

On Thursday afternoon, the team gathered at the “Youthie” for the annual pancake feed and the creating of a 20th STORM Co anniversary handprint wall. The wall artwork was painted by Sahara Deppeler and Zoe Cochrane, and everyone, including Mayor Liliane Brady, youth worker Narelle Kriz and former Avondale School STORM Co leader Mel Lemke, lined up to add their handprints to the wall.

A special surprise for the STORM Co team from the town of Cobar was a special anniversary cake, while Mayor Brady gave a speech thanking STORM Co for their contribution over the last two decades.

This year’s team comprised of team leader Jonathan Christian on his seventh trip, 18 current students from Avondale School, two teachers, one cook, 10 former students and one additional leader. The two teachers who accompanied the team were Karlie Fraser, who had been a STORM Co team member in 2008 when she was a student, and Braden Oliver, who was on the first ever school STORM Co trip to Cobar when he was in Year 10. Both were delighted to be part of this special trip, which brought back many memories and created new ones.

Mr Christian said he hopes the association between Cobar and the STORM Co team from Avondale School will continue for many years.

STORM Co stands for “Service to Others Really Matters” Company, and challenges students to serve a rural community without the expectation of anything in return, while developing leadership skills in the process.

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