Street seat

Students Anna, Kevin, Jordan, Anthony and Lina with councillor Sean O'Reilly and their bench prototype. 110703 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


PRIMARY school students have taken a seat in “the real world” by designing and pitching a unique bench they hope will grace Springvale’s streets and open spaces.
The Year 5 and 6 students from St Josephs Primary School drafted their S-shaped prototype from scratch, collaborating with Keysborough welder and fabricator Mick Cuttriss, and marketed the idea to Greater Dandenong Council.
The school is one of nine Greater Dandenong schools unveiling their community projects in a Voices forum held by Monash Health’s School Focused Youth Service on Tuesday.
St Joseph’s deputy principal Alan Brew said the idea was for students to develop their “voice” through community projects.
“It’s something very practical,” Mr Brew said.
“It’s getting an idea to fruition in the real world.”
The students identified the need for more seating on Springvale streets, then embarked on leadership training, came up with a shortlist of six designs and voted on which would be the final plan.
They worked closely with Mr Cuttriss to build a scale model of each option, to decide what were suitable materials and source companies to build the bench’s components.
Then they learnt persuasive writing techniques to pitch to the council why Springvale needs these benches.
The final design was a green bench, incorporating a flowered environmental theme and shaped for users to face one another.
Mr Cuttriss, a former TAFE teacher, was impressed with the students’ “really worthwhile ideas” expressed in diagrams and pictures.
“They pretty much threw themselves into it. They had questions that I hadn’t thought of.”
“For them, dealing with someone outside the school but in the industry was good for them and out of their comfort zone.
“They’re going to be part of a future we can look forward to.”
Greater Dandenong councillor Sean O’Reilly was optimistic the bench could be part of Springvale street upgrades and its soon-to-be transformed civic precinct.
Other schools taking part are Harrisfield, Dandenong West, Spring Parks, Springvale Rise and St Anthony’s primary schools and Mt Hira and Lighthouse Christian colleges.