Shepparton ACE College students took part in a smoking ceremony to start the school year.
The indigenous ceremony involves burning native plants to create smoke, as a way to rid an individual of negativity.
Students each received a small eucalyptus branch and took turns placing them into a bucket, followed by taking a big breath in.
ACE College principal Bronwyn Rose said the ceremony was a great way to welcome students for the year and show respect for the wider community.
‘‘We need to show more acknowledgement and recognition for our local first people,’’ Mrs Rose said.
‘‘We’re showing our respect for the ceremony, for each other and the community.’’
ACE College has introduced a new program encouraging all students to learn more about local Aboriginal culture.
ACE College youth worker Ivan Lister was looking forward to building stronger community connections.
‘‘The program will run weekly on a Thursday and, although focused on our Aboriginal students, will be open to everyone,’’ Mr Lister said.
‘‘It will also be designed by our students.’’
Yorta Yorta elder Uncle Ruben Baksh was delighted when Mr Lister approached him to help co-ordinate activities.
‘‘We’re going to take them fishing and teach them about their culture,’’ Uncle Ruben said.