The Connections program has been specifically designed to allow our Year 9 students to develop a greater awareness of the world outside of Fintona.
This unique program encourages greater responsibility and independence. Students take various forms of public transport and are responsible for devising routes to different locations. They are asked to work in different groups and combinations throughout the year, in order to work with others in their year level beyond their immediate friendship circle. They develop new approaches to team work and a new sense of belonging with their peers through these experiences.
Traditional classes are suspended for one day a fortnight and Year 9 students wear casual clothes in order to participate fully in a wide range of experiences both on and off campus. During the program, students focus on getting to know the city of Melbourne and important cultural, architectural and social landmarks.
In addition, students visit organisations like the Big Issue, Melbourne City Mission, Fair Share and Urban Seed, who work with marginalised groups in the community and provide necessary services. Students visit the Victorian Parliament, and view it from an architectural and civic perspective, as a vital part of our community and democratic society. They visit the Magistrates’ Court, to gain experience of the fundamental role it has in our legal system.
A cultural perspective of Melbourne is delivered by a tour of the Chinese Museum and Chinatown, an example of a vibrant migrant community. The indigenous heritage walk at the Botanical Gardens, offers an indigenous perspective on this particularly iconic Melbourne site. A global perspective is sought through the United Nations day, where students take on the role of delegates from a variety of countries and debate and negotiate a number of controversial topics.
In Term 3 the students “Connect with the Community” in an area of personal interest. This opportunity places emphasis on sustained community service. Students will opt to work with a local organisation, which may involve working in an aged-care facility, in environmental protection, a library, or a centre or school for people living with a disability. This voluntary work provides the students with an opportunity to travel independently, to provide useful work that benefits an organisation and increase their confidence in communicating with a range of people. The placements often provide an insight in to how others in the community live and work, and is a rewarding and valuable experience.
The Connections program allows for much personal growth and maturity. In reflection, students often comment on the way the program has helped them to empathise with others, to think about their own role in our society and to encourage them to give of themselves. In addition, the students have a lot of fun, enjoy the challenges and the time together, and delight in many aspects Melbourne has to offer.