Courage to fly

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24 April 2024

Senior students at St John’s School, Mitcham, studied Steve Worland’s book Paper Planes and celebrated with their own paper plane competition complete with a special guest.

Building on the school’s 2024 theme of ‘courage’, the school invited paper plane champion Cameron Clark to their paper plane competition. ‘When Cameron started learning how to make paper planes, he didn’t realise that this art and technology – and the banter that he had with his father – would take him so far’, said Deputy Principal Melinda Buscema. ‘It showed our students how persistence, creativity, taking risks and having courage to try something new can take you to unexpected places in life.’

students throwing their paper planes

paper plane champion Cameron ClarkThe competition was the culmination of studying Steve Worland’s book, which tells the story of Dylan who overcomes adversity to reach the world paper plane championships. ‘Dylan faced so many challenges, but he reached his goal in the end’, said student Evie. ‘After we’d read the book and met Cameron, we discovered that we could do anything we set our mind to, even if it’s making paper planes. Some of us even discovered that we have a talent for making paper planes.’

The competition also allowed students to have the courage to show their flair and individual creativity. ‘The best thing was when we came to the school and we all had different paper plane designs’, said Lachie. ‘Nobody had the same design, and it was interesting seeing all the different designs and how they performed in the air.’

For Kirralee, one of the highlights was the collegiality of the experience. ‘We’re all different and we all enjoy doing different things, but this is something we all enjoyed doing together. Even though some of our planes flew further than others, it was still a fun thing that we did together.’ For Jackson, the book and the subsequent competition were an extension of an existing passion. ‘I’ve made many planes and been searching for different designs over the years. It was awesome to get to that moment when everyone got to see their paper planes soar through the air.’

At the end of the day, student Ben’s 20-metre flight was judged the winner, but Cameron’s story proved there were many ways we can experience success. ‘Cameron’s experience competing as a paper plane builder showed us that it wasn’t just about winning or losing’, said Kirralee, ‘but having the courage to follow your passions’.

Deputy Principal Melinda Buscema with students