US writer attends Mary Mackillop premiere

FILLING a bucket has many different meanings, but for students at Birkdale's St Mary MacKillop School, it is about being nice to others and cracking down on bullying.

Last week, the school's students from Prep to Year 7 staged the world premiere of Have you Filled A Bucket Today?, a play written by US playwright Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead.

Students, with the help of guidance counsellor Judy Butler, spent many hours making colourful buckets and rehearsing the play before its Thursday production.

And the US playwright was not disappointed when the curtains went up.

She flew in to Redland on Wednesday to watch the world premiere of her play, based on US author Carol McCloud's award-winning book about Trey, a year 4 student who learns about "bucket filling" from his summer camp.

"Bucket fillers" are people who help without being asked, give hugs and compliments and generally spread good feelings.

"Now I understand that when people bully others they think they are filling their own bucket but it actually empties everyone's bucket. I want to be a bucket filler," student Finlay said.

The red carpet was rolled out for the playwright and the play's stars, who all soaked up limelight.

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 school yards.

Ms Gardinier Halstead, a professor at New York's St Lawrence University, said she was "honoured" the play was being produced in Australia.

"I was especially excited to have the opportunity to discuss the issue of bullying with the school's staff, who are as determined as we are in the US to address the problem," she said. "I was also impressed with the performance and I could see the children's confidence grow."

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