Back 23 November, 2023

Performing arts and winning debates at The McDonald College

Founded in 1984, The McDonald College has been able to simultaneously achieve a high-level academic education and a solid Performing Arts training program for students.

They dance, sing, play music, act and they engage in high-level, intricate philosophical debates about the country’s legal system – and they win them too!

Throughout the year, The McDonald College’s Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) and English Departments have been coaching the school’s Senior Debating Team, who participated in the Australian National Virtual Debating Competition. This inter-school competition engages students in competitive debating with leading schools across Australia. 

In July 2023, the team won their final round one debate in the Australian National Virtual Debating Competition against Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney. The topic: that the Australian judiciary system should have the power to revoke citizenship. 

The adjudicator commended The McDonald College’s senior debaters for their incisive arguments, dynamism, and responsiveness to their opponent’s position. He stated: “This was a university-level debate, with university-level debaters”.

In contrast with most schools, The McDonald College students are also deeply immersed in the world of Performing Arts. The Senior Debating Team is composed of musicians, actors, and dancers: Samuel Dunnicliff (singer in the music stream), Emma King (musical theatre stream performer), Danny Harris (pianist in the music stream) and Caitlin Dooley (music and tech production stream).

Founded in 1984, the College has been able to simultaneously achieve a high-level academic education and a solid Performing Arts training program for students. Continuing this unique immersive approach, students today enjoy, on average, ten or more hours a week in dedicated Performing Arts tuition.

Over the years, the school has seen new students arrive and experience a significant improvement in their academic results as they discover and explore their Performing Arts abilities simultaneously. This is not a coincidence, as research has shown that engaging in creative activities can enhance cognitive capabilities, including performing better in traditional subjects, such as Science, Maths, English, and History.

Furthermore, students learn best when they enjoy learning. As a Performing Arts school, The McDonald College gives students plenty of opportunities to discover their passions and, through these, learn to take joy in the schooling experience.

Students at the College engage in various performing art streams, including acting, classical ballet, contemporary dance, commercial dance, music, musical theatre, and technical production, as well as performance sports training in tennis and rhythmic gymnastics, all in parallel with your typical academic subjects.

With fewer than 300 students (from K to Year 12), the staff can give each child the individual attention needed to build their unique characters and develop singular learning pathways, which are vital for academic success.

The College’s Diverse Learning team is respected and widely used by all students across the school, whether they need additional support in a specific subject, have particular needs, or are candidates for acceleration.

Lastly, students at The McDonald College are surrounded by like-minded fellow creative students, teachers, and industry specialists who all share passions in common. Acting, singing, dancing (or whichever art form they choose to pursue) are very much collaborative efforts, where all involved have the same goal in mind: to perform and execute their tasks well – be that to bring a theatrical story to life, showcasing a musical number, or winning an academic’s debate.

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