Fitzroy High School, VIC
Toilet Doors, 2009
Fitzroy High School was closed in 1992. After a passionate eleven year campaign by parents and residents, the school re-opened in 2004 with a mandate for educational innovation. In order to foster an environment where strong relationships could develop between teachers and students, enrolments were capped, with no more than 100 students accepted in a year level. Fitzroy High values children as individuals, learners and contributors. Our aim is that Fitzroy students will become life long learners, reflective and creative thinkers, and responsible and active citizens. The small size of the school enables us to get to know our students well, and to establish deep relationships in order to engage students in an intellectually challenging education based on powerful ideas which help them toward social maturity and active participation in Australian society.
In 2008, Red Room Education worked with Year 9 students in Fitzroy's 'Excel' sessions, to construct a 'Cabinet of Lost and Found'. Encouraged by their participation in the program and by their energetic young teacher, Ms Briony O'Keeffe, the now Year 10 students revisited the program through a different project.
On May 13 2009, the class presented and performed their group and individual poems to an audience of friends, family, teachers and supporters in the School's new VCE block. Poet Lisa Gorton attended, and the reading included a dialled-in performance from one of the students holidaying in Manchester. They launched a series of posters created from their poems and illustrations, which have been taken up by local businesses for display in their toilet cubicles. Hosts of the posters include Dench Bakery, 3RRR, Cinema Nova, Tin Pot and The Green Grocer in Fitzroy.
You can download their poem posters below, in 3 sets. Poems and posters are copyright to individual authors, please contact Red Room if you wish to reproduce these posters:
Ms O'Keeffe and representatives from the class appeared on Alicia Sometimes' "Aural Text" program on 3RRR to talk about and read their new work.
Lisa is a poet, essayist and fiction writer. She studied literature at the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford. After winning the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize she travelled in Ireland for six months and went to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. There, she completed a Masters in Renaissance Literature and Doctorate on John Donne, and received the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in Donne studies. During her studies, Lisa worked as a visiting tutor at Rhodes University, South Africa. Returning to Australia, Lisa’s first poetry collection Press Release (2007) was shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize and Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award, and received the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. In 2008 she published a children’s novel, Cloudland. Her second poetry collection Hotel Hyperion (2013) was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and Western Australian Premier’s Prize for Poetry and received the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. Lisa's novel The Life of Houses came out with Giramondo in 2015. Lisa is the judge for Red Room Poetry Object 2015.