Using art to make meaning as a school community
This theme was based on three subthemes: shared story; connectedness; and final product. Although not all schools used the final product of a digital video compilation of the stories, there was a strong sense that the project contributed to bringing the communities closer together:
And it didn’t happen to just me - it happened to everyone else, so which is how it taught her that she’s not the only one it happened to... these people had to deal with it, these are my friends, they had to deal with it as well, so I’m not the only one.
Like a story - they did it with the kids: what’s happened here; what happened at the beginning of the year and what happened next. They actually did a collective story about the year so far up until August about how they had recovered. So that was written then read out at the Moncrieff [theatre]. Actually it was recorded. The story they collectively made was over the pictures on the screen.
This shared experience or story increased a sense of connectedness within the communities:
Yes, helped knowing we’re not alone, we’re not the only ones out there.
Where this was everyone sitting there talking about it and even the kids who weren’t necessarily directly involved, but because they live here they would have seen things and so they had their own experience as well, so gave everyone the opportunity to talk about it even though they may not have been directly involved in something... I think it kind of brought them a little bit closer as they were able to kind of share their experiences and recognise that even the people who weren’t directly affected were still affected in some way.
The final product, a digital video, was used by one school at its end-of-year function. In another school, this was provided to individual families. One family, while appreciating having this video, preferred to put it away and not view it with their children for fear of reigniting fears and anxieties:
It was played at something we had at the Moncrieff up on the big screen. The final product was played back.
I think they’ll ask. When they’re old enough, what happened and we can watch it and show them, when they’re a bit more mature and can cope with it.
The ambivalence around the use of the final product, while having great potential to contribute to drawing communities together and allowing them to make meaning of traumatic events or bring a sense of closure, is an aspect that needs further consideration in regards to closing the loop with the project.