Jim Hill Middle School students visit sister school in Australia
Nine students from Jim Hill Middle School visited Whitsunday Anglican School, Jim Hill’s sister school in Mackay, Queensland in Australia last month. They left for Australia July 10 and returned last week. In 2005, 38 students and three teachers from the Australian school visited Jim Hill and stayed with host families in Minot. They invited Jim Hill students to visit them there.
Jim Hill was represented by assistant principal Cindy Mau, teachers Bill Irmen and Todd Magnuson, and students Brooke Beechie, Marcy Buchholz, Kaari Burbach, Alexis Colbenson, Madison Irmen, Trevor Magnuson, Max Murphy, Emily Veazey, and Jordan Zietz. Some of the students’ parents and siblings also made the trip.
Here are the impressions of the Jim Hill students, e-mailed from Australia July 20:
By Marcy Buchholz
Our first stop was Brisbane, Queensland’s capital. Brisbane is a beautiful city of 2 million. We couldn’t get over how clean the city was and how easy it was to get around. We strolled through the Botanical Gardens, taking many pictures and buying fresh fruits from a vendor.
Our favorite way to get around Brisbane was to take the City Cats, catamarans that ferry passengers from one stop to another on the Brisbane River. It’s a great way to relax and view the scenery of the city. There were also free shuttle buses that go through downtown Brisbane. It was a short bus ride to a Koala Sanctuary, the river front and the shopping district.
By Max Murphy
Some of the world’s best surfing beaches can be found along Australia’s Gold Coast, south of Brisbane. A few of us took the opportunity to get surfing lessons at Surfers’ Paradise. Our instructor, Ryan, was a good teacher and Australia-cool. He broke surfing down to small steps so we’d be able to learn to hop on, balance on our knees and finally stand up. I think everyone got up at least one time. Some were able to get up several times, but only for a few seconds at a time before we’d wipe out.
Another thing that impressed me was the beauty of the Gold Coast. The weather was sunny and in the low 70s. As this is their winter, the Aussies consider this to be very chilly. But to us, it was very comfortable, a nice break from the 90s we had been having in Minot. The water was as clear as can be, and all the pretty birds and palm trees along the beach are not what you would hear and see in North Dakota.
By Jordan Zietz
Some of us set off for the Australia Zoo. The zoo was started in the 1970s by the parents of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Even though Irwin died last year, his wife, Terri, keeps the zoo going in his honor. They have wonderful exhibits for crocs, koalas, kangaroos, venomous snakes, elephants, tigers and other animals and birds from Australia. There was a memorial to Irwin, with photographs, stuffed animals, flowers, and letters. A few of us got to meet Terri Irwin, but his daughter, Bindi, wasn’t on hand. The Australia Zoo was a great chance for us to see Australia’s wildlife, and we had a blast.
Welcome to Mackay!
By Kaari Burbach
Finally we were off to Mackay! We were very excited and nervous on the plane ride from Brisbane to Mackay. hen we walked into the airport, we were shocked! They had a chorus singing, a band playing, and school children in grass skirts dancing. We were greeted by staff, students, and old friends from Whitsunday Anglican School. It was an exciting moment for us all, the moment we’d been awaiting for two years.
Home Away From Home
By Emily Veazey
While in Mackay, we were all assigned to host families with whom we’d be staying. From the first time we met them at the airport to now, they have been very generous. They have not only let us sleep and eat in their homes, but they have planned activities for us and driven us to where we’ve needed to be. They have been very kind and have given us memories I will never forget. Our thanks go out to them.
By Madison Irmen
Whitsunday Anglican School is a parochial school for grades kindergarten through grade 12. Some of the students board at the school during the week. When we arrived at Whitsunday Anglican School the first day, we were surprised to see how open the school is. Unlike Jim Hill Middle School, the hallways are open air with stilts and a ceiling. Even the lunch areas and gymnasium are open air.
The Whitsunday students also wear uniforms. The girls wear red, gray, and white button-up shirts with gray skirts and socks. The boys wear gray button-up shirts with black Bermuda shorts and red neckties. Both boys and girls can also wear a red jumper, or sweater, as we’d call it. Jeans, open-toed shoes and dyed hair are not allowed in the school.
Aussies and Americans both speak English, but there are obvious differences. The “bubbler” is what we would call a drinking fountain. A “snag” is what we’d get when our fishing hook gets caught on a rock, but to the Aussies a snag is a sausage. Breakfast is simply “brekky” and supper is “tea.” Also, some words we would consider cuss words and would be unsuitable to print are also used in casual conversation in Australia.
While at Whitsunday, we gave a Power Point presentation about Minot and North Dakota. The students and staff were very curious about our home and asked many interesting questions. Being from a tropical climate, they were most interested about our cold, snowy winters.
The students and staff of Whitsunday Anglican School have been very hospitable. One of our first projects was to build a nine-man cardboard boat for their boat race. They were very helpful and gave us supplies and advice. For the race, we made a North Dakota-themed boat. The race is not in the water, thank goodness, but a footrace. We will all get in it and run for the finish line. From what we understand, crossing the line before your boat gets wrecked is the biggest challenge. Winning would be nice, but we’re hoping to just finish the race.
The Hamilton Islands
By Alexis Colbenson
Our Aussie hosts have taken us on a couple of day trips to see the area. We spent one day on the beautiful tropical paradise of Hamilton Island. After a choppy ferry ride, we set off to explore all parts of the island. Some went snorkeling, some went kayaking. We spent time on the beach making sand sculptures. One of the hotels had a glass elevator, and from the 16th floor we got a wonderful view of the island. We rented golf carts to drive around the island (stay in the left lane!) While Hamilton Island is a hot celebrity vacation site. We didn’t see any, but we did have a wonderful day!
By Trevor Magnuson
The Illawong Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many of Australia’s birds, snakes, reptiles, and marsupials. Whle Illawong has many of the same animals as the Australia Zoo, we were able to have a more personal experience at Illawong. We fed and cuddled kangaroos. We also fed emus while they tried to cuddle us. They have a forest area full of tropical birds. Also on display were crocs, who seem lazy until you get close to their water holes. Then they become very fierce.
After surviving the crocs, it was on to the koalas. Koalas are often incorrectly called “koala bears,” but they are not related to bears; they’re marsupials, or pouched animals. They are by far everyone’s favorite. They look cute and cuddly, but they do scratch and have a habit of taking a bathroom break while being held.
Next up was a trip to the Eungella National Park. For many, this was the favorite stop so far. Eungella is up in the mountains in the rain forest. There are miles of trails winding through the rain forest to explore. One of the Aussie boys found a brown snake, which is poisonous but not deadly. This future Steve Irwin showed us how to handle the snake and didn’t seem too worried about being bitten.
The star of Eungella is the duck-billed platypus. The platypus is a very rare, shy creature, but if you wait quietly by a pool, you may be lucky enough to see one. We were very fortunate to make a couple of platypus sightings. They are much smaller than we expected, about the size of a cat. Many Aussies we spoke to said that they have been to Eungella several times and have yet to see a platypus. He must have known we were there!
Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival
By Brooke Beechie
The Whitsunday Anglican School held the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival the third week in July. Some of Australia’s top authors were featured, including best selling mystery author Tara Moss, Mem Fox, Andrew Daddo, and Aboriginal author Boori Pryor, among others. The authors gave writing, art and cartooning workshops. Some 5,000 students from all over the Mackay area attended. We enjoyed listening to the authors talk about what inspired them to become writers and they gave us great advice on how to write better.
Our time in Australia has gone by fast, even though we’ve been on the move since leaving Minot. We’ve made tons of new friends, and we hope to continue our sister-school relationship with Whitsunday Anglican School staff and students. We are already planning to have the Aussies back at Jim Hill in the fall of 2008. This sister school exchange has been amazing for the staff and especially the students of both schools, and hopefully it is something we can keep going. G’day!