St Joseph’s Primary in Benalla held a Harmony Day celebration last Wednesday to acknowledge the rich diversity of people and cultures in Australia.
The day had a Japanese theme with a sea of youngsters equipped with Karate Kid-style headbands enjoying a special assembly in the morning sunshine.
The school welcomed special guests from the Sandhurst Diocese who have, in the past, assisted the school with grants to develop their languages program.
FCJ College principal Joanne Rock was also in attendance and was joined by her deputy principal and language teachers.
The ceremony included students paying respect to local Aboriginal people and their elders, an introduction and blessing from Father Peter Taylor and some angelic Japanese singing from the school choir.
At the end of the ceremony students released orange balloons to signify that everyone belongs in Australia, regardless of race, nationality or the language they speak.
Orange is the official colour of Harmony day.
Japanese language teacher Jeni Dunn said she was delighted with the way students and staff were able to join together for this special day.
‘‘Respect for all cultures is so very important in the world today and if we can succeed in teaching this to our young members of the Australian community, Harmony Day will be every day,’’ Ms Dunn said.
‘‘We would also like to thank the Sandhurst Catholic Education Office for the generous Languages Partnership Grant, we received in 2017.’’
That grant was used to install dual English and Japanese signs around the school, these provide visual aids to help pupils learn.
St Joseph’s students are introduced to languages in Year 5 and have the opportunity to continue classes through years, 7, 8 and 9 if they continue on to FCJ College.