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Byron Shire
October 5, 2022

Life long learning with environmentalist Bruce Chick at Wollumbin High

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The NSW Department of Education are planning to remove 48 rainforest and native trees to put up a parking lot. Photo Taddy Ridge

As a former student of Wollumbin High School, having completed years seven through to year 12 from 1999 until 2004. I was privileged to be involved with Bruce Chick and his passion for native regeneration. Under his direction and co-ordination, a collaborative educational program was offered to students to regenerate the former farmland landscape of the school grounds with native species. Bestowing students like myself with awareness and appreciation of the delicate balance between mankind, our interaction with our physical environment and also our obligations to create and maintain sustainability.

Together We Learn

Together We Learn

I find it an insult to the pioneering work of students such as myself and the legacy of Mr Chick that such crucial collaborative, educational and sustainable living contributions to the ecosystem are proposed to be destroyed. My perspective as a 35-year-old is that Wollumbin High School, by name and motto, was an educational institution enlightened by the rich historical, cultural and environmental values of the broader caldera area that fed the school.

Mr Chick and his regeneration program was the embodiment of those ideals. I am not sure if it remains current but when I attended the school the motto was ‘together we learn’, and that is precisely what was offered to us as students through this program; an opportunity to learn and leave a lasting positive impact on both the school and the ecological system for generations to come.

The NSW Department of Education are planning to remove 48 rainforest and native trees to put up a parking lot. Photo Taddy Ridge

Living legacy

I nostalgically remember planting trees under the guidance of Mr Chick with a peer, a friend who would later die in year 11 before we completed high school. When I heard of the proposal for the trees being removed, I thought what did we prove? What is the lasting lesson here? I know what it should be, I know what Mr Chick wanted it to be and what we as students wanted; and that is a legacy that we created, a small contribution that with time and growth stimulates more growth and life for flora and fauna. It is also a living legacy of individuals who are no longer with us, and it is an insult to former students and defeating future endeavours to destroy that achievement. 

How do we promote environmental change when the pioneering work of patrons, and the collaborative achievements of individual students mean nothing in the face of convenience? From my perspective the Department of Education owes:

 a) Mr Chick and his tireless dedication more regard and

 b) the students involved an explanation as to why their work is proposed to be subject to nothing more than corporate convenient vandalism.

If the school is to be merged and that legacy lost, then at the very least as ex-students we deserve the respect and courtesy that our work is not in vain and remains as a living testimony to our achievements. A testimony that will continue for generations. That is the lifelong lesson Mr Chick instilled in our young minds decades ago and it’s a message I adamantly believe the Department of Education should promote and not destroy. 

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  1. Very well expressed, Aliesha. The DoE should scrap the car park plan, scrap the whole school amalgamation thing & listen to the wishes of the community for once!

  2. The fact that the Department has chosen to assert itself in this instance despite the knowledge of what we the school community achieved as a leader in ecological and sustainable education with then foundation patron Bruce Chick (memorial used in the garden) goes against the very fabric of the school’s ethos ‘together we learn’.

    In a year where climate events, recovery and loss of green space has changed our lives forever, has the Department gone against it’s own values in the wish to fit all public students into one very full box?

    The Tweed Shire Council has now developed a policy to ‘green’our urban heat banks throughout the Shire to encourage more balance and reduce stress overall due to increasingly hot summers.

    Why is this decision being forced upon the students and community of Murwillumbah?
    As a former parent and staff member of Wollymvin HS, I valued the greenery and natural surroundings of this school environment in stark contrast to the concrete jungle of other schools I worked in.

    Many families chose Wollumbin High School due to it’s values, small school feeling and green spaces which were used as ‘real life’ classrooms on a regular basis for both agricultural and scientific purposes.

    Surely our community deserves better. What will future generations remember from this experience if it proceeds against the community it supposedly supports?
    What will be the lesson and who will gain?
    ‘Together We Learn’.

  3. I find it so hard to believe that these bureaucrats making these decisions expect that in the year 2022 that we will all lie down and take these ridiculous decisions that affect so many lives without a murmur …..so wrong one so many levels…NO NO NO

    • Kim, its what this Tory Government legislation of new draconian anti-protest laws is designed to achieve, with total complicity from the spineless ALP.
      Bring in the school kiddies with Extinction Rebellion and Blockade Australia to stop the tree slaughter – lets see the Tories jailing school kids that have the gall to save ‘their trees’.

  4. The NSW LNP Govt are an absolute disgrace and it will be ejected from office in March. We may as well call them the “Termite party” as they do nothing more than eat away the social fabric of our society and just leave everything they touch rotten to the core!


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