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Try For 5! challenge winners revealed

The winners of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys 2023 Try for 5! inter-school challenge have been crowned with Garbutt State School and Western Cape College Weipa finishing top spot on their respective leaderboards.

Incentivising and rewarding increased school attendance across North Queensland, the Try for 5! program, supported by Rex Airlines and the National Indigenous Australians Agency, saw 16 participating schools battle it out to become Try for 5! attendance champions.

Program schools were challenged to consistently surpass their attendance goals week by week and term by term, using Cowboys Community ambassador visits, weekly and term prizes and program support material to encourage student and family engagement within their school communities to attend 5 days per week.

Garbutt State School was presented with their winner’s prize – a team-signed and framed 2023 Cowboys jersey – at a special assembly on Wednesday while Western Cape College will receive theirs in the coming weeks.

Garbutt State School Principal Jackie Guiney said students simply couldn’t believe it when they were named Try for 5! challenge winners.


That’s it – we’ve officially crowned our 2023 Try for 5! winners for the Chad Townsend Attendance Challenge: Garbutt...

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“We were very excited for our kids, it means a lot for us as a small school in our area that we could win something like this from the Cowboys and the Try for 5! program,” she said.

“We live and breathe Try for 5! here at Garbutt State School, attendance has always been an issue for our school and our families really do struggle sometimes to get the kids to school, but this is a great way of encouraging them and explaining to them the importance of coming.

“Our kids are really proud when they do something like this and we win things, so we’re going to pop that jersey up in the administration office where the kids come all the time, and they can see it, and we can promote that with new families coming in that we’re a Try for 5! school and we’re winners.”

Coupled with new initiatives like the MVP program – a personalised mentorship with individual students at each school, setting goals and working on strategies to increase their average attendance –Try for 5! is helping North Queensland communities to reinforce positive school culture through attendance.

Try for 5! is designed to address short- and long-term impacts of students missing foundation learning in their primary years through poor school attendance with participating students reaping academic, social and personal development benefits.

Cowboys Community ambassador and Cowboys NRLW halfback Tahlulah Tillett said attendance is critical for students getting an education and pursuing their academic goals.

“It’s where we learn a lot of life skills and get an education, and it’s important for kids to know that while you’re at school you’re getting that education, but you can also make friends, learn social skills and that school is a safe place as well,” she said.

“The kids love the program and they love the Cowboys, for us to be able to come to this school and spread important messages around attendance you can see we’re having a really positive impact not just at Garbutt but in the wider North Queensland community.

“You can see the kids work really hard to try for 5 and we’ve seen great improvements not only across the whole school, but also in individual students and families as well.”

The Try for 5! program is now underway in 2024, with St Kieran’s Catholic School, Mt Isa and Pormpuraaw State School joining in the program fun.

Cowboys Community ambassadors continue to visit every school each term across the region, reinforcing the program messaging and encouraging students towards school every day.

Further north, Western Cape College Weipa Campus Deputy Principal Danielle Ross said the school is excited to be leaderboard winners for 2023.

“As a school, we prioritise attendance and appreciate our partnership with the Cowboys and Try for 5,” she said.

“Try for 5 has supported us for several years through social media communications, school visits, mentoring of selected students, providing incentive prizes for students, families and teachers, and classroom creating tools that help students track their own attendance.

“It is wonderful to see that as we work together, we are kicking goals.”

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.