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Festival of Gifts: thanking God, who makes and creates


Find out how Coomera Anglican College’s Festival of Gifts celebrates and recognises that all we have comes from God

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Zareena Rajan, Community Engagement and Communications Coordinator, Coomera Anglican College

Festival of Gifts is an annual celebration that brings the entire community of Coomera Anglican College together to give thanks for our shared life.

It is a time when we express gratitude for the many gifts and talents we have been individually blessed with, and the ways in which we bring our own colourful “tile” to the mosaic that is our College and the wider community.

The festival provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the life of our College through giving thanks to God, who makes and creates. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the beauty and wonder of the world around us, and to recognise that all we have comes from God. We express our gratitude for the many blessings that we have been given, including our health, our families and our community.

At the Festival of Gifts opening ceremony, held at the end of Term 1, the entire College Community, including students from our Early Learning Centre to Year 12 and staff, gather in the Rod Lane Sports Centre, which is named after one of the College’s founders.

This ceremony is an opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our students, teachers and staff. We celebrate our achievements, our successes, and our growth as a community. It is a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future with hope and enthusiasm.

Two of the unique Festival of Gifts opening ceremony elements are “Yelgrued” and “Gilgan”, both of which celebrate our College Houses (Gibbs, Smith, Morris and Lane) and working together as a community.

Yelgrued is not an ancient or First Nations term, but rather a word created by combining the colours of each House – Yellow, Green, Blue and Red. In roughly 10 minutes of colourful and creative mayhem, Yelgrued sees students from each House working together across year levels to accomplish a series of increasingly strange tasks, involving balls, buckets and unusual outfits.

Gilgan is one of our most important traditions – a rhythmic activity incorporating various musical instruments that is led by our student leaders at major events throughout the year. Each House creates its own beat that harmoniously blends with those of the other Houses. The resulting sound is simply beautiful, and it is a testament to the power of collaboration.

At Festival of Gifts, the wider Coomera Anglican College community gathers to acknowledge our human giftedness – being and doing, loving and serving. We celebrate the many talents and abilities that we are blessed with. We also acknowledge that these gifts are not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of others. We recognise the importance of loving and serving others, and we commit ourselves to using our gifts and talents for the betterment of our College and the wider community.

Dom Fay

“Indigenous peoples around the world often perform songs and dances at their ceremonies as a sound of who they are as a people” (Dom Fay, Coomera Anglican College, 2023)

Dom Fay, Faith and Spirituality Coordinator, Coomera Anglican College

Festival of Gifts has been a unique part of our College’s cultural heart for many years.

In the very early days of the Coomera Anglican College story, our foundation Chaplain The Rev’d Richard Browning, crafted Festival of Gifts to be a celebration of giftedness and community.

Originally aligning with Pentecost, Festival of Gifts has, like all traditions, changed in shape and form over the years since then.

The heart of it remains the same though – to provide a space for the entire College community to come together in recognition and celebration of our uniqueness and our connectedness.

Indigenous peoples around the world often perform songs and dances at their ceremonies as a sound of who they are as a people.

This is what Gilgan exists to be for our community, and is often referred to in the College as “the rhythm of life”, symbolising the way we each bring our own unique sound to the world to create something beautiful together.

The Coomera Anglican College choir

The Coomera Anglican College choir performing at the Festival of Gifts in 2023

Imogen W, Year 12 student and Faith Prefect, Coomera Anglican College

A highlight of the Festival of Gifts ceremony for me was our Principal, Mr Patrick Innes-Hill, officially opening his first Festival of Gifts. He was filled with excitement and gave us all a laugh when he mentioned the Hawaiian House shirt he was wearing with his suit, along with other staff members.

I believe it is crucial for a school to celebrate its gifts to bring a unique sense of gratitude and community. I have attended every Festival of Gifts since Year 1 at the College and it continues to be a favourite event for many students and staff, which brings the entire College Community together in one space.

One of the many gifts that we celebrated was music – through the College’s many different age groups in choirs, ensembles and our worship band. This greatly benefits the school community because music is an integral part of our culture, and the music created by a diverse individuals has the ability to lift the mood and connectedness of any space.

Brayden H, Year 12 student and Faith Prefect, Coomera Anglican College

Some highlights of the 2023 Coomera Anglican College Festival of Gifts for me include the amazing musical performances, as well as the incredibly rivalrous Yelgrued races between Houses.

As stated by Mrs Stelzer (College Lay Chaplain) during the ceremony, I believe that competition is a key part of what makes the College so special today. I think that Festival of Gifts also celebrates the ways in which we help people, not just within our own Houses, but in other Houses, to grow and push harder.

Coomera Anglican College’s Festival of Gifts reminds students of the ways in which the College was founded, with mind, heart, soul and spirit, as represented by the meanings of each House.

Our respect and determination to strive for more is what makes our College community so strong.

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