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Wilma Wombat features in ‘Red School’ farewell

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November 22, 2017

Joy Humphries (centre) and theatrical director Diane Wiadrowski with Eva Wilson, Gabby Murray, Sienna Mullavey, Ella Rhodes, Marnie Hoskins, and Maya Hargreaves in character to perform Joy’s book Wilma Wombat.

Yarrawonga College P-12 students are beginning to feel the nerves and excitement as they put the final touches on rehearsals for their theatrical production ‘From Bullock Drawn Days to the School of Today’ to be held on November 30 at the Yarrawonga Yacht Club, starting at 6pm.

The two-and-a-half-hour production will involve students in grades from prep to year 6 as well as some senior students, staff members and community members.
Each year group will play out different eras of the school including the opening of the school in 1887, World War I detailing the impact the conflict had on Yarrawonga and the school, the 1970s with the inclusion of music to the school due to Frank and Jenny Kennan before finally reaching the present day, heralding new beginnings with the move to a new campus.
One of the present-day performances to be seen near the end of the production is based around a former teacher of the school Joy Humphries’ book ‘Wilma Wombat’.
Wilma Wombat is aimed at young children aged between three and six years and follows the female heroine Wilma as she learns about new Australian animals and imitates their movements in her quest to connect and be similar to each animal.
Joy wrote the book for children of that age group as she taught three to six year olds over her teaching career but said she cannot recall where the idea came from.
“I actually don’t know the full reason why I wrote it,” Joy said.
“I’ve always loved working with kids so this book suits them but I can’t even recall when I first thought of the idea.
“Once I got started I created it so that the last animal she sees is an animal so different to her in the way of a caterpillar that it leads me into my next book.”
Joy is since retired from teaching and wrote Wilma Wombat in her downtime but said she never intended for it to be printed but is proud that part of the school’s production is being based around it.
“It was the school’s doing that the book even got printed,” Joy said.
“I told Michelle I had written a book thinking I wouldn’t do anything with it and they suggested to print it for me.
“I think it’s beautiful that part of the production is based around my book, it’s just lovely.”
Joy also has an involvement in the Wilma Wombat segment of the production by narrating the story as the students perform the actions.
“I read the book in the production so my role is that of the narrator,” Joy said.
“My son is also going to be there on the night as he did the illustrations and did the black and white painting of the book while I did the colour.
“I am honoured to be a part of the production in some way.”
Although being honoured to be involved in the school’s tribute to the closing ‘red school’ Joy said she was sad to see it go due to its historical significance to Yarrawonga and hopes it can still be of use in some capacity.
“It’s sad that the school is closing,” Joy said.
“My grandfather was the brick-maker of the bricks that are still in place at the school, so it’s sad to see such an old historical building no longer being in use.
“I still do a bit of art voluntarily and the art group I am involved in, we float around with no real base so we would like to advocate to use it part time.”
Joy said from the rehearsals she has seen so far and the costumes that have been created for the whole production ‘From Bullock Drawn Days to the School of Today’ is a must-see performance.
“The whole production is looking fabulous with the costumes and props and the students acting out the different eras of the school,” Joy said.
“It would be marvellous to see much of the Yarrawonga community at the Yacht Club witnessing the work and effort that has gone into the production and as a way for the community to farewell the old school.”
With just over a week until the big production, Yarrawonga College P-12 is asking the community to spread news of the event far and wide, to ensure everyone can return to celebrate the ‘Red School’ and say goodbye to an era in Yarrawonga history.

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