AFL Cape York art exhibition a success

THE AFL Cape York House art exhibition on Saturday was a resounding success, drawing crowds to the Hilton Cairns and delighting the students whose work was on display.

Me. The Exhibition was the secondary school boarding facility’s inaugural art exhibition, showcasing the students’ self-portraits depicting their learner identities.

Aside from the scores of Cairns locals and community members who came to see the artwork, many of the students’ families made the trek from out of town to see their young people shine.

AFL Cape York House – For Boys teacher Amanda Black said the event was a huge success.

“The event was incredible – so many families attended and we had a lot of proud families and proud young people,” she said.

According to Ms Black, a number of teachers from the students’ schools came along to see the exhibition, something that proved valuable as the teachers were able to see their students outside of a classroom environment.

“These teachers coming along showed a lot of support and a willingness to learn and connect with the young people,” Ms Black said.

“They were able to see the young people and their families in a non-school setting and get to know who they are beyond school.”

AFL Cape York House boarding manager Kane Richter said the even was one of the most special days in the boarding house’s ten-year history.

“I didn’t know what to expect going in,” he said.

“When we were setting up in the morning we didn’t think we needed the PA system and then we looked out and saw the crowd – we definitely needed the PA.

“It was much bigger than I thought it would be – it was really powerful and generated so much emotion in all the staff, the kids, and their families.”

Grayson Norman, the student who was the face of Me. The Exhibition and featured in the promotional images, had two aunties come down to Cairns who generated such a buzz on his behalf that exhibition visitors asked for his autograph.

“It gives the young people such a sense of pride and reminds them why they’re here,” Mr Richter said.

According to Ms Black, the event was powerful in that throughout what was a long process for the boys and girls, at every step of the way they gained a deeper understanding of their learner identities.

“It really hit home on the day when the community and schools turned up to support them and the kids could see how significant their efforts were,” she said.

Me. The Exhibition was not the only event for AFL Cape York House this past weekend – on Friday night there was the ten-year reunion of AFL Cape York House – For Boys, and Saturday night rounded out the weekend with the annual awards and graduation night.

“It was a big 24 hours,” Mr Richter said.

“We’re celebrating ten years of the boys’ house and five years of the girls’ facility.

“The awards night is always special as we celebrate the young people who are graduating from high school, and we were also celebrating the success of the exhibition earlier that day.”

According to Mr Richter, the exhibition was something new for the whole facility and it was very special for the staff, serving as a reminder of why they do what they do.

“Seeing something like the exhibition be so well-attended and such a success is very special to us,” he said.

“It reminds us of our ‘why’.”

Looking to the future, the staff and teachers at AFL Cape York House are considering how to build on the success and momentum of the exhibition.

“We like doing activities with the young people that strengthen their leadership, encourage collaboration, and make them proud of who they are,” Ms Black said.

“It’s exciting to think about what we can do to build on this going forward and see what the young people will achieve next.”