Ryan Catholic College, QLD
Toilet Doors, 2012
Ryan Catholic College is a co-educational College catering for students from Prep to Year 12 across two campuses in Kirwan, North Queensland.
Ryan Catholic College was established by the Catholic Diocese of Townsville in 1979 to serve the rapidly developing areas on the outskirts of the city and the corridor development of the Upper Ross area.
In order to foster a sense of community and to provide a support for family life, the College was planned as a co-educational institution from its inception. It was Townsville's first co-educational Catholic College for children from Preschool to Year 12.
Named after Bishop Hugh Ryan (the long-serving Catholic Bishop of Townsville), Ryan started in January 1979 with 74 boys and girls in Years 1, 2, 3 and 8. The first Principal was Barry Taylor, who led a staff of 5. By 1980, Years 4, 5 and 9 had been added and, as our reputation grew, additional groups followed until we received full Year 1-12 status in 1983. In 1992, a two-stream pre-school was added.
The Junior campus was opened in 2001, beginning with a new intake of Year 1 students. 2004 saw a full complement of students from Preschool (later Prep) to Year 4 located on the Junior Campus, with four streams in each year level. Ryan is now Townsville's largest Catholic College, with enrolments of almost 2000 students and 220 staff.
Red Room Education poet Eileen Chong taught 4 classes a day, with a mix of 10, 12 and 14 year old boys and girls, across 4 days. The learning resource, Toilet Doors, which focuses on guerrilla poetry, really resonated with the kids. The Year 9 students have been studying guerrilla poetry in their English classes so Eileen felt it was exciting to tap into their existing knowledge and to see their enthusiasm for the writing activity.
"Blackout poetry is a great activity for kids of any age," says Eileen. "Some of the teachers got in on the action too and surprised themselves with how much fun they were having! What I love most about this activity is how freeing it is: 'a poem is discovered in play' indeed. And the results can be very moving, unexpected and funny, surprising with their wisdom and inventiveness."
She also composed a poem for the school, ‘After the Wreck’, which is published on the Red Room website (and in playlist above).
Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet. Burning Rice (Australian Poetry, 2012) was shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, Australian Arts in Asia Award and the Prime Minister's Literary Award. Her other books are Peony (Pitt Street Poetry, 2014) and Painting Red Orchids (Pitt Street Poetry, 2016).