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Recently retired North Queensland Toyota Cowboys player Ray Thompson kicked off his first week in his new role as a club community engagement and programs officer with a visit to Rasmussen State School for the Try for 5! program.

Happily taking on the role after hanging up his NRL boots, Ray will work alongside Cowboys legend and community engagement officer Matt Bowen to deliver programs throughout North Queensland, including Try Time!, Learn, Earn, Legend, and Try for 5!

Ray Thompson and Matt Bowen in class for the Cowboys Try for 5! program.

The Rasmussen juniors showed their Cowboys visitors and proud Try for 5! program partner Sun Metals through the school’s ‘Resilience Garden’, before heading into the classroom with attendance-winners of the fortnight, class 2R.

Sun Metals CFO and Director, Kathy Danaher with students from Rasmussen State School

A locally-based refinery operation, Sun Metals has been involved with Cowboys Try for 5! since the second term of the 2017 school year, and supports delivery of the school attendance program in 14 schools throughout the North Queensland region.

While the partnership is just beginning, the program's success is evident in percentage increases right across the school catchment area.

Cowboys Try for 5! is an intra-school competition designed to address short and long-term impacts of students missing foundation learning in their primary years through poor school attendance, with ambassador visits offered to reward high-performing classes.

Local member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper MP also attended the visit, and praised the program’s success and the local business partnership in delivering real change for primary students in the community.

“We want kids coming to school, and we want parents to encourage their kids to go to school, and what we’re seeing at Rasmussen is a 5.87% increase and overall 6.6% increase across all 14 schools,” Mr Harper said.

L-R: Wes Graffin-Sun Metals, Ray Thompson-Cowboys, Kathy Danaher-Sun Metals, Aaron Harper-MP, Matt Bowen-Cowboys, Dan Dubbeld-Rasmussen State School

Rasmussen State School chaplain Dan ‘Chappy’ Dubbeld said the Try for 5! program forms part of a wider strategy to encourage and excite students about coming to school.

“We’ve had huge success, and part of our bigger strategy with the Resilience Garden … the values program, and our pancake brekky a couple of times a term, all of these things are part of the bigger strategy to keep kids coming,” Mr Dubbeld said.

Rasmussen State School students show Ray Thompson their Resilience Garden

Try for 5! is structured to reinforce a positive school culture, communicate high expectations of attendance, and record and follow-up student absences and provide support where required.

>>> More info: Try for 5! school attendance challenge