Our community


Parents and carers are encouraged to be a part of our school community and to take an active interest in their child’s learning journey.

The Parents and Citizens’ Association (P&C) always welcomes new parents/carers and interested community members at its monthly meetings or to volunteer in the school canteen. The P & C is active in promoting the welfare and achievements of our students and in enhancing facilities and resources in the school.

Our Indigenous families have initiated a Hawk Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Paraent Advisory Table which meets twice each term. This displays to children a powerful model of engagement.

Regular conversations and activities are incorporated into the school calendar to promote the voices of our Indigenous, migrant and International families in school decision-making.

All parents/carers are encouraged to be involved by:

  • advising of reason for absence, providing medical certificates and/or responding to SMS messages from the school
  • ensuring records are up-to-date with the latest contact and medical information 
  • attending parent-teacher interviews
  • attending relevant ceremonies and assemblies as well as our Presentation Night

Our School Totem Poles

In 2014, the Year 11 and 12 Multi-Arts Class designed and created totem poles to represent the four houses: Balkuin, Barang, Bonda and Dherwain. The student's explanations of the design are below.  The totem poles were unveiled during the 2014 NAIDOC celebrations and Ms Connor added context to the students work:

Mrs Connor's Introduction

First of all I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians – the Jarowair and Giabal people of the land on which we stand and all other elders and indigenous people here today and elders from other countries who may be here today. I acknowledge and pay respect to my own Gomilroi Elder and sister Mrs Lyla Dreise.  The Totem Poles represent the four houses of Harristown State High School: Balkuin, Bonda, Dherwain and Barang.  These are the four of the Waka-Waka language group.

In a moment the students will explain in greater detail their Totem Poles.  Thank you to everyone who helped us create these totem poles.

First of all thanks to all the people who did all the groundwork last year – the elders, Stacey Trindell, Ms Helen Parker, Mrs Sall’ee Ryman and Daniel Schick and his students last year who installed the poles . Thanks also to John McLay, the Facilities Officer from Harlaxton State School who gave up his own time to prepare the poles for painting, Doctor Mayrah Dreise who was acting Principal of Harlaxton, for donating paint, Jason Dreise who advised the students on symbols, Mrs Karen Tuite for donating paint, David – the facilities officer here, Mrs Sall’ee Ryman for her support and Ms Helen Parker, Deputy Principal in charge of Indigenous Studies at this school. A special thanks to Jeff Chesters and Kassidy Leslie for giving up their time to support us.

Most of the credit has to go to the students themselves who designed the totem poles and did all the painting and designs by themselves. They are a credit to their families and our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities of Toowoomba and surrounding areas. But most of all they are a credit to themselves. Some of them have never painted before and some of them have not painted since they were in kindy.

It was a joy – both professionally and culturally to watch them in action. They worked together as a team discussing the design and painting and over a period of time they became so focussed and involved and engaged in the task. Sometimes they would be standing around literally waiting for the paint to dry, talking and listening to their music then they would jump up and all of a sudden a big goanna or a big Rainbow serpent would appear on one of the poles. It was a magical experience and something the students will carry in their hearts for the rest of their lives. 

Thank you.


On our totem pole we see hard work and effort. Our totem pole is designed for Dherwain House. We like our pole mostly because it was designed how we wanted it to look and it turned out just the way we wanted. There were changes made to the pole multiple times but those changes only made the pole look better.

The pole has a snake that stretches from the very bottom of the pole to the top; kangaroo tracks; a waterhole; a boomerang, a kangaroo and stars.  The pole also has our names to let people know who helped out.  The symbols and images on the pole represent things from dream time stories and past indigenous people of this land. 
Jaimee, Alex, Chelsea, Thomas, Breehanna and Jasmine


The green Balkuin totem pole displays the school’s name Harristown High. We used white paint to dot around each letter.  We designed a goanna and a turtle on the pole, painting little designs on the body of each of these animals. We placed our handprints on the pole in the gaps.  We used the goanna and the turtle because they were the totems of two members of our group and the group was happy with this decision. We used handprints to represent everyone in the group. 
Our designs on the animals are based on traditional Aboriginal symbols. These symbols include a waterhole and water streams flowing into the waterhole. We also put a tree-like design in the goanna to represent family, a family tree.  In the turtle, the design represents paths where the traditional Aboriginal walked. We wanted the audience to connect to the traditional lifestyles of Aboriginal people, feel connected to the pole and get the feel of Aboriginal painting.  When we showed and explained what we did with the pole we felt as if the people connected with us.
Alex, Tony, Antoine, Gerome, Bryce, Ryan and Gavin.


Our totem pole is Bonda red. On this totem pole we represented our pride as members of the Indigenous community. Our pole shows hand prints, representing individuals; Indigenous symbols, representing water, earth and sun.  We wrote ‘Bonda’ on the front of the pole and drew the Aboriginal flag on the top and the Torres Strait Islander flag on the bottom.
The main feature of our totem pole is the two snakes.  The black snake represents the mountains and the white snake represents the water.  Most of our ideas came from our imagination, adding new ideas every day.  We love our final product.  We really enjoyed creating our totem pole that can now be loved and shared for years to come.
Elizabeth, Shanleigh and Ryan.


Our totem pole is the Barang pole which is blue.  We painted the pole blue to match the House colour and decided to make the design ocean-themed as it seemed most appropriate.  Our group placed handprints on the pole to represent teamwork. The handprints were outlined with black and white dots around them.  A turtle was placed on there to represent the ocean theme; the seaweed was painted on the bottom of the pole for the same reason.  

‘Barang’ was painted on a bright blue ribbon to show pride in our House. The Aboriginal symbol for waterhole was used because of the water theme and to also show pride in Aboriginal culture.  We hope viewers will see the effort and the shared culture that was put into the totem pole.  We hope for them to feel it is a professional artwork and to be proud of the school and the House.
Anthony, Jemimah, Raquel, Katlyn, Michael.
Last reviewed 03 August 2022
Last updated 03 August 2022