First Nations project transforms school

Archie, Billy-Jay O'Toole, Jo Chapman, Delilah at Ocean Grove Primary's new front entrance. (Monica Berry Photography)

Ocean Grove Primary School (OGPS) will unveil its transformative First Nations Heritage Grant project this Friday as part of Reconciliation Week.

Launching the project with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony at 2.30pm on Friday, May 31 at the school, OGPS invited the community to join in celebrating the completion of the Rekindling the Wadawurrung Spirit in Ocean Grove project.

The project includes the school’s transformed front entrance gates and two tunnels in OGPS’s inclusion playground, featuring an incorporation of traditional symbols and contemporary art.

Funded through the City of Greater Geelong’s First Nations Cultural Heritage Grant program, the project was delivered by a partnership between Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Wadawurrung artists Billy-Jay O’Toole, First Nations students, school leaders and Visual Arts teacher Jo Chapman.

Ms Chapman expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate with First Nations community members and artists.

“The Rekindling the Wadawurrung Spirit in Ocean Grove project is a testament to the power of art and culture in education,” she said.

“It not only enriches the learning experience of our students but also serves as a beautiful symbol of reconciliation and respect for Wadawurrung, the Traditional Custodians of Country and the First Nations community.”

Mr O’Toole said the project would leave a legacy for future generations.

“The most rewarding part of what I do is giving kids a sense of pride, a sense of connection and leaving something significant behind that they can always hold close to them while they attend this school,” he said.