Zoe Askew

On Wednesday, May 31, I travelled to Boisdale Consolidated School as a representative of the Gippsland Times to share my journalistic knowledge with local students as part of their Year 5 and 6 English studies.

Drawing on my previous experience in the education sector and my personal preferred styles of learning, kinesthetic learning and project-based learning, with the help of teachers Fluer Stone and Michael Roberts, I constructed a fake news story for the Grade 5/6 Boisdale Consolidated School students to investigate and write about. The story – a fire at the Boisdale Consolidated School.

Before students put their journalist caps on, they listened attentively to a brief lecture about journalism, news, and media and completed a short activity.

They learnt that news is information about current events that may be provided through many different media: word of mouth, printing, postal systems, broadcasting, electronic communication, or through the testimony of observers and witnesses to events. They also learnt that not all information is news; information becomes news when news values are added to the story.

News values include timeliness, impact, prominence, proximity, conflict, currency, novelty/oddity.

The Gippsland Times’ own Zoe Askew speaking with students at Boisdale Consolidated School. Photos: Contributed

Students were tasked with identifying news values in a story from the most recent Gippsland Times issue (Tuesday, May 30) to put their newly acquired journalistic expertise to the test before heading out in groups to investigate the breaking news story unfolding at Boisdale Consolidated School.

Students set out across the school grounds in search of information pertaining to the fire, meeting Ms Stone, the acting fire captain; Mr Roberts, the lead police detective and the front office administrator, acting as the Boisdale Consolidated School principal.

Each actor was given a list of information about the incident, which they relayed to the students and provided direct quotes for the student journalists, mimicking a formal press release.

After gathering information and compiling statements from the fire captain, lead police detective and Boisdale Consolidated School principal, Grade 5/6 students began constructing their very own news article.

Following my visit to Boisdale Consolidated School, which was reportedly well received by students, Ms Stone and Mr Roberts shared two stand-out pieces from the news story writing activity – ‘Suspicious fire at Boisdale School’ by Riddick Johnson and ‘Catastrophic fire’ at Boisdale Primary School by Evie Dierickx.

As a full-time employed journalist with a Bachelor of Communication and Media majoring in journalism, it is my professional opinion that Boisdale Consolidated School may just have two future journalists on its hands in one, Riddick Johnson and Evie Dierickx.

Suspicious fire at Boisdale School

By Riddick Johnson

Early morning on Wednesday, May 31, a serious fire broke out at Boisdale School. While no one was injured, it is being treated as suspicious.

Fifteen firefighters arrived at the scene at about 6am after neighbours called emergency services around 5.50am when they saw black smoke coming from the school. The fire burned half of the school. Four fire trucks and five police cars attended to the fire.

Parts of the school building collapsed, and flames spread to nearby trees and bushes.

Police confirmed nobody was inside the building.

A neighbouring resident said she was woken by loud sirens whizzing past her house.

“There was ash falling everywhere, and the embers were raining down,” she said.

One teacher who arrived at the school as emergency services worked to extinguish the blaze, said he heard cracks and bangs before the roof of the building caved in.

“The fire radiated heat onto the street, and the smoke was so thick it was almost choking,” he said.

Police are searching for two young individuals who were seen fleeing the scene at about 5.50am wearing black hoodies.

Detectives brought in two sniffer dogs at about 10am to assist the investigation. The sniffer dogs went all around the school but did not find anything.

There was no video footage as the fire destroyed the school’s security cameras.

Police have yet to identify any offenders.

Catastrophic fire at Boisdale Primary School

By Evie Dierickx

On Wednesday, May 31, at 6am, a catastrophic fire broke out in suspicious circumstances and burnt half of Boisdale Consolidated School, destroying years of progress.

Luckily, the fire happened outside school hours and no students or teachers were injured.

Five police cars and four fire trucks attended the scene following a call from neighbours to emergency services, who reported smoke billowing from the building.

As explained by the lead investigator, Dr Roberts, the school garden shed had its lock picked at and opened, petrol was missing from the school lawn mower, and a suspect in a black hoodie was videoed fleeing from the school.

The blaze allegedly started in the student kitchen, destroying the toilet, office and kitchen building and the ‘Ber’ building.

Police urge anyone with evidence or video footage to call crime stoppers.