St Maryʼs College Ipswich (SMC) teacher and Cultural Program Leader Courtney Fook is passionate about creating opportunities for students to thrive, and building the vibrant community at SMC.
“Each time a student gets involved in any aspect of the extra-curricular Cultural Program I feel enormously proud of them,” she said.
Courtney began teaching at SMC in 2015. “This was the year we established Dance as a Curriculum subject at SMC, as well as the extra-curricular Dance Troupe program at the College,” Courtney said.
As Cultural Program Leader, Courtney facilitates all the extra-curricular Cultural activities, including Dance Troupes, Choirs, Bands and Ensembles, as well as the Journalism and Media Team, and Debating teams. She is also responsible for producing the Combined Collegesʼ Musical every two years, and running annual SMC events such as the Cultural Showcase and Dance Spectacular. Courtney said the talent, dedication and passion of SMC students motivates her to come to work each day. “I thoroughly enjoy working closely with our performing arts students to perfect their skills and technique,” she said. “I love watching them grow in their confidence and build their performance abilities.”
Courtney said one of her highlights from this year was establishing a new debating competition for local students – Ipswich Secondary Schoolsʼ Debating Competition – in conjunction with SMC Debating Coordinator Eryn Gower. No local debating competitions were scheduled to run in Ipswich, meaning students would need to travel to different venues across south-east Queensland, usually around the Brisbane CBD. This was not practical for many Ipswich students. The competition saw almost 40 teams from local secondary schools compete each week during Term 2.
“The program I am most proud of is the extra-curricular Dance program. Now our largest extra-curricular Cultural activity at the College, with 80 to 100 girls involved each year, it has taken enormous amounts of hard-work and enthusiasm to get it to where it is,” Courtney said. “Our Dance Spectacular at the beginning of October was a fabulous event, and showcased the incredible talents of our dancers.”
Other highlights for Courtney this year include the Show Choir receiving the Adjudicatorʼs Choice Award in the Choral Section at the Ipswich Junior Music Eisteddfod; the launch of student podcast SMC Amplified; and the introduction of some small ensembles to the music program, including the SMC Guitar Ensemble and SMC Keyboard Ensemble to encourage the involvement of junior students, and the establishment of the Senior Dance Excellence group, to target senior students wishing to hone their choreography skills.
“It was also wonderful this year to celebrate the bi-annual MADD Dayz Festival at the end of Term 2. All students in Years 7 to 12 participated in a broad range of Music, Art, Dance and Drama Workshops, including photography, videography, typography, hip hop and contemporary dance, jewellery making, music editing, pottery and so much more,” Courtney said.
“Looking forward to 2022, SMC is excited to be producing the Combined Collegesʼ Musical in July at the Ipswich Civic Centre.”
“I am most excited, though, that I get to continue to work with the wonderful students of SMC as they get involved in the Cultural Program and work towards achieving their personal best.”