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Queensland's 150th anniversary is a chance to celebrate our past while honouring history in the making - and festivities will be in full swing during State Education Week in June. Rebecca Perry reports

Celebrating education | State Education Week

Queenslanders are taking a nostalgic look at the past as the state gets ready to mark its historic 150th birthday.

During State Education week (SEW) 2009 from June1-6, the Department of Education and Training will focus on how the education sector has evolved over the years.

This year's SEW events will coincide with Q150 Queensland Day celebrations.

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Back to basics ... Millaa Millaa State School principal Stephen Fresta prepares a billy tea to share with Prep-Year 7 students, teacher Gayeline Steventon and Back to School Day guest dairy farmer Colin Daley.

Back to basics ... Millaa Millaa State School principal Stephen Fresta prepares a billy tea to share with Prep-Year 7 students, teacher Gayeline Steventon and Back to School Day guest dairy farmer Colin Daley.

Old-fashioned celebration

Technology might have brought the world closer together but some things never change.

At Millaa Millaa State School on Far North Queensland's Atherton Tableland principal Stephen Fresta says children are learning important lessons about old-fashioned community values.

Mr Fresta, who was educated at an isolated, one-teacher school in central Queensland, incorporates these values in the SEW celebrations at Millaa Millaa each year.

'I was teaching at another school when we started doing the national Back to School Day initiative,' he said.

'Some schools use high-profile people to talk to the students but I wanted the kids to know you don't need fame or money to be happy.

"I deliberately invited regular people from the community who were truly happy and successful.'

Mr Fresta's SEW event, which he has run at Millaa Millaa since 2006, takes students back to basics. The children make bread in the morning using traditional hand kneading methods and bake it in camp ovens using a wood fire.

While they wait for the bread to bake they tell stories with their special guests around the camp fire and then share bread and billy tea with them.

'We work together on the bread and we enjoy a few laughs as we listen to stories from past students. It generates a warm family feel that permeates the whole event,' Mr Fresta said.

The former students tell the children about pranks they used to play on each other, how they got to school and where they would keep their horses during the day.

Lifelong Millaa Millaa resident and dairy farmer Colin Daley shared his stories last year.

'I went to this school with my siblings, two of my children have gone here and my baby boy will too,' he said.

'Talking together helps you get a real sense of community and that is something that we are coming back to valuing.'

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Passion for the past ... Q150 director Graeme Potter enjoys being a Principal for a Day and sharing his experiences with students.

Passion for the past ... Q150 director Graeme Potter enjoys being a Principal for a Day and sharing his experiences with students.

Principal for a day

Q150 director Graeme Potter knows all about history. His prior posting was deputy chief executive officer of the Queensland Museum.

Over the past few years, he has shared his passion for the past with students by becoming a Principal for a Day.

Dr Potter and other community leaders and high-profile Queenslanders around the state step into a principal's shoes each year during State Education Week.

Dr Potter was an assistant principal at a Canberra high school many years ago so, unlike many honorary principals, he has first-hand knowledge of the role.

'Working in schools is a great opportunity and this event gives other people from the community the chance to experience it,' he said.

'Our educational pioneers certainly paved the way for the resourceful and innovative facilities we enjoy today and being a principal helps you appreciate how far we have really come.

'It also gives participants a glimpse into a school's achievements, while students and teachers learn from someone else's experience and expertise.'

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Showcasing state schools

Showcase school ... Upper Mount Gravatt State School's 2008 leaders in front of the You Can Do It mural. The mural depicts the school motto Strive to Excel and the five keys of the social emotional learning program: organisation (green), getting along (yellow), confidence (red), resilience (purple) and persistence (blue).

Showcase school ... Upper Mount Gravatt State School's 2008 leaders in front of the You Can Do It mural. The mural depicts the school motto Strive to Excel and the five keys of the social emotional learning program: organisation (green), getting along (yellow), confidence (red), resilience (purple) and persistence (blue).

Programs making a difference to young lives will get more than a pat on the back during State Education Week. For the tenth year, up to 97 regional awards of $1,000 will be presented in the Showcase Awards for Excellence in Schools.

For entrants, it is a chance to share their success stories.

Brisbane's Upper Mount Gravatt State School is contesting the Showcase Award for Excellence in Leadership for its life-changing initiative, Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Spirits.

After revamping its tuckshop menu and trialling the national KidsMatter mental health initiative, the school has turned around an environment of poor morale and low results.

Families are involved, academic results are improving and behaviour is now so good the school has "retired" its detention room.

Parents' and Citizens' Association president Irene Thompson said looking after children holistically had become integral to everything the school did.

From this year's regional winners, the Showcase Board of education and community leaders will choose 24 state finalists who will each receive $5,000. Of these 24 finalists, eight will win a further $20,000 each in grants at the state final presentation in October.

Winning has changed the way Dysart State High School runs its innovative training programs, after taking out the Showcase Award for Excellence in Community or Industry Partnerships last year.

Head of Department Sally Munns whose school in central Queensland has developed strong links with the region's mining industry said Dysart High had bought a 25-seater bus so it could access more training opportunities for students.

'For the fifth year running, 100 per cent of our students have been successful in gaining a job or gone on to further study so it has been very rewarding to get the recognition,' Ms Munns said.

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Stars ready to shine

Our best performing arts students are preparing to bring the house down in the biggest variety show the state has ever seen on Queensland Day on  
June 6. 

Rehearsals for Creative Generation - State Schools Onstage 2009are well under way. 

More than 2500 students, a symphony orchestra, stage band, massed choir and 1000 dancers are ready to star alongside showbiz drawcards including country music star Lee Kernaghan, pop sensation Ricki-Lee, ARIA winning band Operator Please, So You Think You Can Dance 2008 winner Jack Chambers and 2008 Australian Idol finalist Chrislyn Hamilton. 

The fifth annual show will transform the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall into a kaleidoscope of colour. For more information visit the Creative Generation website

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Top teachers

The My Favourite Teacher competition winners will celebrate in fun fashion - the prizes are a Dreamworld Family Two-Day World Pass for four people. 

Queensland students are voting for teachers who encourage them to be innovative and winners will be announced during State Education Week. 

For information on what's on or how to get involved, visit the SEW website.

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