You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Cairns builds attendance 'culture' with Try for 5!

North Queensland Toyota Cowboy Tahlulah Tillett helped Woree State School fire up the Woree Wonka Machine for the last time in 2023 during her term 4 Try for 5! visit and final time connecting with graduating year 6 students.

It was a bittersweet trip to Cairns for the Cowboys community ambassador and NRLW player who offered well wishes to students who will head off to high school in 2024, having been part of the program since year 2.

Participating in the Cowboys Try for 5! school attendance program since 2019, Woree State School’s uniquely designed and built Wonka machine has been put to good use in drawing class prize winners as a reward for increased school attendance.

Woree State School Assistant Principal Shane Curley said their Wonka machine - fed with golden tickets earned by competing classes as they reach attendance milestones - builds excitement and a positive culture around school every day.

“We’ve been doing the Wonka Machine for about four years, and it’s one of those things or events that kids will remember from school, and it’s simply about making it fun,” he said.

“We’ve really tried to make Try for 5! part of the culture, we’re not just handing out the prizes, it’s the events like the Wonka machine, the Try for 5! attendance shield, and trying to do different things each term.

“On top of that I think the Cowboys connection is really important because students see other people care about them in the community, this isn’t just about us, there is a stronger connection with a higher profile group, so they look forward to all the visits knowing that someone cares about them.”

It’s a similar story across town at Balaclava State School where their term 4 attendance party invited 100% attendance students and their families to enjoy a barbecue lunch, games and prize draws.

Students had the chance to learn some new skills and run around with Cairns junior Tillett, who has also become a familiar face there through regular visits and online catch ups with staff and students.

Tillett said schools throughout Cairns are committed to the Try for 5! program, with fun and creative initiatives like the Woree Wonka Machine and Try for 5! attendance parties helping instill a sense of excitement around the program.

“You go to these schools at least once a term, so you build a good rapport with the students, and now those year 6 students are heading off to high school next year,” she said.

“While it is sad to know I won’t see them at visits next year, it’s also very exciting to see what the next journey and next chapter brings, that’s really exciting and as long as they keep ‘trying for five’ they’ll be fine.

“I think the program helps set them up for success, it instills the culture within kids and families to attend school every day. I certainly hope they carry that routine with them into high school.

“It’s always fun to get back and see the kids, see how excited they get and to have further events where there’s community engagement with families who turn up to be part of it is quite awesome as well.”

Tillett’s Try for 5! trip to Cairns also included visits to participating schools, Cairns West State School and White Rock State School.

The Try for 5! program is designed to address short and long term impacts of students missing foundation learning in their primary years through poor school attendance, and rewards individual classes and schools using the club’s profile and ambassadors.

The program will return to schools in the Cairns region in 2024 with the support of the Australian Government and Rex Airlines.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.