STORMCo goes virtual in midst of pandemic

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Students filming a program for the community of Cobar.

Avondale School participated in STORMCo with the NSW town of Cobar for the 22nd straight year, but this time in a different way.

With COVID-19 restrictions meaning a trip to Cobar would not be possible this July, students from this year’s would-be team helped put together a “Virtual STORMCo”, so that their positive relationship with the community could continue.

Under the guidance of Avondale School’s STORMCo coordinator, Jonathan Christian, the team met and brainstormed ways that they could still deliver STORMCo. This resulted in three pre-recorded programs, that would run during the first week of the NSW school holidays.

“We underestimated the amount of time it would take to video and edit three complete programs, and we ran close to the deadline to finish in time, but the students were amazing,” said Mr Christian. “They gave up their lunchtimes and stayed back after school to film the various parts of the program.”

STORMCo coordinator Jonathan Christian delivering packages to residents of Cobar.

Each of the programs consisted all the usual elements that would be expected in a STORMCo Kids Club program: Music, craft, drama and puppets. Three Year 11 students, Olivia Morton, Ben Lindsay and Liam Curson, composed the lyrics and music for a theme song, “God is My Rock.”

Students also wrote a drama based on the popular tale of The Three Little Pigs, which—linking to the third little pig’s house of bricks—strongly reflected the program’s theme. Year 12 student, Zoe Cochrane, wrote a themed story which she read in interactive sessions with puppets, one for each day. Other students worked on blacklight puppetry and presenting the craft sessions. Everyone had a role to play and played it well.

The students also had a guest appearance by North New South Wales Conference Children’s Ministries director Pastor Darron Pratt, who participated in some ballooning, while teacher Tiani Page created two sand art performances for the programs.

Students wrote, performed and filmed a drama.

The student team raised funds to create 110 craft packs including arm bands, pet rocks and laser cut model planes to deliver to the children in Cobar. A week before the school holidays, Mr Christian drove to Cobar to deliver the craft bags and STORMCo shirts to the community team members. He also dropped off beanies and rugs to the local aged-care facilities—made by the Cooranbong knitting club and some Avondale students, a project that was coordinated by Avondale School teacher, Jane Murphy.

Coordinated by Mr Christian, the Cobar visit involved the team setting up in a local park area to distribute craft supplies. Nearly 80 craft bags were handed out on the day while Mr Christian created balloon art for the children. The STORMCo team also sent out care packs to some of Cobar’s most dedicated local STORMCo supporters, including Lillian Brady, who has been mayor of Cobar for the whole 22 years that Avondale School has been running STORMCo.

Mr Christian arriving in Cobar to make deliveries.

On the first Monday of the school holidays the STORMCo students met to watch the first Kid’s Club of the week together. Two people from the Cobar community drove to Cooranbong to show their appreciation.

Although students and teachers from Avondale School were disappointed to not be able to visit Cobar this year, the restrictions provided an opportunity to think outside the box and find a solution to a problem that nobody could have anticipated.