Lachlan McAlpine.
Lachlan McAlpine.

Mt Larcom State School launches rural studies program

MOUNT LARCOM State School will go down in history as the first school in the Gladstone region to provide a rural studies program.

Two 3000L aquariums, a range of cattle, sheep, chickens, cropping land and a vegetable garden are some of the cool new things the school now offers to students who enrol in the program.

The school has been working for more than a year to get this ready for the students; and the hope is that it will get them more involved with school.

"We're only a small school, so we want to provide our students with as much as we possible can," the principal of the school, Pauline Porch, said.

"We had some students that were becoming less engaged in school, and some didn't even see the point in coming at all."

Of the 30 students who attend the high school, 24 students have enrolled in the program.

"So we spent this whole year setting up something the kids would really love, and get involved in.

"The kids are so much more engaged now, they love the animals and learning to live and educate themselves with the way of the land.

"It's not just a class, it's a lifestyle; the students even spend their lunch breaks feeding the animals and looking after them."

So far the school has three Dorper stud sheep; they're hoping to get three more next year.

The students are also breeding guppies and watching red claw and barramundi.

The school is now also home to two types of chickens, egg laying and meat chickens, which the students have been measuring growth rates for and their behaviour.

Rural studies teacher and coordinator Norm Horan said the program would also include getting the children involved in learning the history of Mount Larcom vegetation.

"Now that we have a dedicated cropping area, the children will learn about and grow what has grown here historically, including peanuts, cotton, sugar cane and forage crops," he said.

"It's a fantastic way to get the kids out of the classroom, but they are just as excited to get back in the classroom and study what they have learnt and put it in an assignment."

Yesterday the school finally cut the red ribbon on the program, opening it up to community members and the rest of the school.

"The kids were excited to be involved and loved the fact that they could give people tours and explain how things worked," Ms Porch said.

"The whole idea of the rural studies was to give the students a different pathway or option.

"The response we have had has been phenomenal; it's the best thing that has ever happened the school."

Mr Horan said although the program has been launched, there is still a lot of work to do.

"We still have a long way to go if we want to offer our students the best education rural studies-wise," he said.

"But at least we know how successful it is and there is definitely room to grow."

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