Cire goes Bear Grylls, almost

While not with the same hype as a Bear Grylls or a Survivor episode, Cire Community School students have notched up their own achievements in the outdoors this year, well beyond their “wildest” dreams.

School camps and expeditions have enabled them to move well beyond their comfort zones and develop soft and hard skills they can apply to many aspects of their lives and have loads of fun.

Some of these opportunities were funded through the Victorian Government’s Positive Start program, designed the help address the impact of the harsh lockdowns and restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program enabled Cire students to have a five-day paddling camp at Lake Eildon and the Snowy River near Buchan, putting to the test and further developing what they had learned from about 12 activities days in terms of building relationships, stamina and skills.

For Eildon, students co-designed the camp, which involved a five-day paddle along the Delatite arm of Lake Eildon.

Students learnt to put up tents, construct a good cooking fire, improved their already decent tarp skills, continued to improve their paddling skills, cooked over a fire and use stoves, and developed leadership, navigation, conflict resolution, and negotiation skills.

They also demonstrated great resourcefulness and creativity. Two students harvested pine sap from a plantation and heated it on rocks to make glue – and one made an axe with his glue, a rock, and a branch and found cable wire. Together the group made two fishing rods/apparatus, upcycling random items found, including hooks from ring pulls. While the fish managed to escape being caught, they enjoyed the corn bait.

Camp coordinator KD Skidmore said some amazing reflection and conflict resolution took place.

“We worked through some social division arising from conversation topics and created inclusive solutions … there was a great change in vibe and benefits, of which the whole group was able to articulate at some point.”

Particularly special moments included seeing the blood moon rise and then the eclipse over the water, climbing a ridge and watching the moon rise on another night and then sharing the nightly reflection with the mosquitoes.

The benefits of the camp were also captured in the following student comments:

Moss: Highlights were getting to know people better and having great chats around the fire; learning how to work as a team, paddle straight and even how to propagate a pine tree.

Rhylie: I learnt more about myself and how to work better with others. Also, how to consider everyone else’s feelings and opinions.

Melanie: I really enjoyed being with my classmates.

Mel: Being on camp, away from everything, was really good for my mental health. I enjoyed doing all the activities I usually would not do at home.

Bianca. I enjoyed canoeing, talking around the fire, and watching the moon eclipse and the solar eclipse.

Tristan: One of the highlights for me was finding connections with people I didn’t know I had connections with.

Matari:  I loved the whole experience of getting to know everyone better. It was a great experience overall, and I think we all really value what we got out of it. The view was really nice out on the water, everything was so flat and perfect, and the eclipse/blood moon was pretty epic.

Pictured: EACH Wild staff Tristan Sterry and Loui Callas (foreground), with students Matari Grace, Bianca Schyf, and Rhylie Scammell.


L-permits for Christmas

Christmas came early for some students at Cire Community School who recently attained their Learner Driver permits after successfully completing a Changing Gears program.

It was a particularly exciting way to end the year and given the much anticipated Changing Gears pre-learner driver education program had been rescheduled three times due to COVID restrictions.

Twelve students participated in the pre-Learner driver education program at the Mount Evelyn campus with seven ultimately gaining their Ls on the final day. All 12 students learned valuable lessons in safety, persistence and practice and had a great time engaging with the course.

The following comments help capture the value of the experience:

It was a bit confusing at times but then it made sense.

There are lots of the questions that just take time to work out the safest option. It’s like a puzzle.

Changing Gears has become an important part of what Cire Community School’s offers and helps students achieve one of the ”rites of passage” which may not otherwise be within easy reach, as well as contribute to keeping our roads safer.

It has been made possible by support and funding through the Department of Transport and VicRoads as a safer driver and passenger intervention. Students have achieved 100 per cent success rates for almost every program.

“Changing Gears gives students, and their families, the confidence to undertake their Learner’s permit test and then gain invaluable time driving under adult supervision,” explained Karen Swankie who has been instrumental in securing the necessary grant funding and overseeing the program.

“It provides a supported environment that breaks down the road rules into manageable learning opportunities and as a result, our students have been incredibly successful in gaining their Learner permits over the years.”

Changing Gears gives students, particularly those with low literacy levels and self-confidence, the opportunity to achieve success by learning the road rules in a supportive environment with their peers. Facilitators work with individual students on areas where they may require extra support and students are able to learn with their peers, which further embeds the learning. Being able to sit for the test with a group, rather than alone, helps to alleviate nervousness associated with testing.

Students in the most recent Changing Gears program loved their instructor Linda who was able to communicate the road rules in an effective manner using a range of digital and physical mediums such as videos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations and physical maps to demonstrate traffic manoeuvres. The students particularly appreciated the practice quizzes as they gave them valuable insights into the learner’s test and further familiarised them with the rules of the road.

Linda provided lots of support to the students throughout the sessions and checked in on their wellbeing and understanding on a regular basis. Students were reminded that the Victorian road rules always looked for the safest approach and that the quizzes could be completed with common sense. Linda spent time with each student, helping develop that ‘common sense’.

On the day of the test, many of the students were excited to finally sit for their Ls. They were all very encouraging towards each other even though some were not able to pass on the day. Overall, we had a high success rate and those who did not pass have the option to try again in February.

For future students completing this course, be sure to have the correct documents and identification.

Cire has again been awarded funding for Changing Gears in 2021/2022. Our school is also set to be the benchmark in the region for a new safer vehicles intervention which is being rolled out for the first time, as well as a Looking After Our Mates online session.

Best wishes and safe driving to all those new Learners on the road!




Top Gear for Kaylum at the Wandin Rotary Car Show

With a passion for both photography and cars, Cire Community School student Kaylum was in his element helping out at the 2019/2020 Wandin Rotary Custom Car and Bike Show.

Kaylum attended the family-friendly local show on several occasions to assist and learn tips from the club’s official photographer, who is recording the event on camera.

“It was really great,” Kaylum wrote of his experience. “I saw all the cool cars people brought to the show… Cars from the 80s and before except for some like a Nissan R33 Skyline (Release Date 1995). I saw some of my favourite cars”.

The Wandin Rotary Custom Car & Bike Show is held monthly over the summer at Wandin East Reserve (Old Baker Rd, Wandin East) with six shows showcasing the very best custom and classic vehicles. With all sorts of makes and models on display, this wonderful local event is sure to satisfy even the most ardent car enthusiast!

On Wednesday evenings, the event offers something for everyone, with food trucks, a well-stocked bar and live entertainment, including music and a jumping castle for the kids, in addition to the spectacular array of cars.

Kaylum’s Top Five Cars

  • Mini Morris which was supercharged. It is similar to a turbocharger but instead of being connected to the exhaust like a turbo, a supercharger is connected to the fan belt.
  • Mini Clubman. The clubman is similar to the Morris except that is has more of a flat bumper opposed to the more bug-eyed look of the Morris.
  • Corvette Stingray. The Stingray was one of my top favourites when I was younger. I can’t recall why I liked it so much but I think it was the design the sleek pointed front end that looked like a blade.
  • Dodge Charger. The Charger was a car that I discovered in the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie – Dom is one of my favourite characters and the Charger is his car.
  • Nissan R33 Skyline. The R33 Skyline is a part of the GTR family which has been a big part of the JDM community for a long time and the Nissan GTR became even more popular from the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie where Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Conner drove them (specifically the R34). Paul Walker was a massive JDM fan.”

Visitors can enter the show for a mere gold coin donation or, if you have a pre-1985 vehicle or bike you’d like to display, you can do so for $5. With all funds raised going to the Royal Children’s Hospital as well as local community projects, not only will you have a fantastic evening out, your attendance will support some wonderful causes!

Final shows for the year take place on Wednesday 15 January, 19 February and 18 March. For further information, please visit the Wandin Rotary Custom Car & Bike Show Facebook page or email

Students graduate with Learner permits

Congratulations to some of our Cire Community School students who recently gained their Learner Driver permits.

It was a 100% success rate with the 12 students who completed the three-day Changing Gears driver education program attaining their Ls at the Mooroolbark Licence Testing Centre. Cire Community School was able to deliver the program at an affordable cost to students thanks to a grant of $1000 from the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

The following feedback from students highlights the value of the program which is run by instructor Linda Jane from Changing Gears:

“I got my Learners permit and it’s all because of the Changing Gears program.”

“Thanks, Linda, for being such a great teacher and helping us pass our test.”

“Linda was so patient with everyone. Even though there was a lot of distractions, we all learnt about the Road Law and how to be safe, and we passed.”

Linda Jane said the following statistics were a testimony to how important driver education is for young people:

More than 350 young drivers aged 18-25 have lost their lives in Victoria in the past 10 years – representing one in four, or a quarter of the road fatalities in the State over the decade. In 2016, 19% of drivers who lost their lives were aged between 18 and 25 years with this age group only representing about 10% of Victorian licence holders.

Of the 29 young drivers who lost their lives on our roads in 2016:

  • 76% were male
  • 55% were killed in regional Victoria (94% were killed on 100+ km roads)
  • 69% were killed in single-vehicle crashes
  • 63% were involved in crashes that occurred in high alcohol times
  • 55 people die and 1,245 are seriously injured each year in crashes with drivers under 25.

Linda Jane said inexperience, lifestyle factors, risk-taking and using older, less safe cars made young people for more vulnerable to crashes and injury.

Subject to funding to ensure the program is affordable for students, Cire Community School tries to offer Changing Gears on an annual basis.

Linda Jane delivers the program in a fun and interactive way of using learning activities such as:

  • videos
  • information that is explained so it makes sense and is easy to understand
  • easy to use workbook
  • lots of practice tests
  • easy to remember methods
  • student questions answered.

If you would like to know more about Cire Community School and the education programs they deliver click here.