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Spreading bucket loads of love

Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead (standing far left) with the cast and crew from St
Mary MacKillop, who staged the inaugural international performance of her play

ST Mary MacKillop School, Birkdale, made history when staff and students had the honour of staging the international premier of the anti-bullying play Have you Filled A Bucket Today?.

An added bonus for the school was the presence of the play’s writer, Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead, who flew in from New York to witness the performance

Ann Marie, an associate professor at St Lawrence University in New York, based her play on US author Carol McCloud’s award-winning book about Trey, a Year 4 student who learns about “Bucket fillers”, people who help without being asked, give hugs and compliments and generally spread good feelings, during a summer camp. 

Guidance counsellor Judy Butler said producing the play was a mammoth undertaking for the school.

She said the school had achieved some significant firsts – the first international production and also the first time the play was performed by children.

An impressed Ann Marie said she was honoured and humbled her play was produced in Australia with a creative and innovative staff and student community.

“I was especially excited to have the opportunity to discuss the issue of bullying with the St Mary MacKillop staff who are as determined as we are in the USA to address the problem.

“I believe we need to do so with new and creative mediums and I hope my play will help in some way.” 

She said the children preformed so well and it was great to watch their confidence grow. 

“I am so proud of all of them, and I sincerely enjoyed my time with them,” she said.

The play was the culmination of the school’s three-week student protection program, which first raised the concept of “bucket filling” as a way to get students to support each other to create safe and friendly schools.

The cast consisted of students from the school’s drama club under the guidance of drama teacher Terry Larson, as well as staff members.

Judy said the bucket filling concept had given students something tangible to say to others and be instantly understood, which was making a positive difference to interactions between students.

“The enthusiasm of the students from Prep to Year 7 is amazing to be a part of as they are learning both to acknowledge positive behaviours and be more able to stand up for themselves,” she said.


Brisbane Catholic Education Office

243 Gladstone Road, Dutton Park Q 4102

GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia

Phone: (07) 3033 7000

Fax: (07) 3844 5101