When the first Ezidi refugees arrived at Drummond Memorial Public School in early 2018, principal Julieanne Compton didn't expect that nearly two years later they would be elected school leaders. One day, perhaps - but not for 2020.
To the delight of principal, students, and staff alike, two of Drummond's school leaders for next year are Ezidis: school captain Aymen Hilo and vice-captain Sherzad Muhi.
They join Australians Shae Stone-Glover as girl school captain and Keanu Casey as vice-captain, and Jarryd Cutmore and Lara Vanry as sports captains.
"I'm really looking forward to working with this group of students," Mrs Compton said. "These are outstanding leaders for next year - and now they're going to be a voice for the students."
Aymen was one of the first Ezidi arrivals in Australia. "He's just an overall awesome student," Mrs Compton said. "He's a fantastic role model because he really values education and wants to learn. He always does whatever he can to help the other students or Ezidis arriving in town feel as comfortable as he does now."
Shae has been at Drummond since she was young. "She's another great student who enjoys school, loves to learn, and help other students," Mrs Compton said. "She's very proud to be here at Drummond."
That multicultural team is a sign of how well the Ezidi children have adapted to Drummond, and how warmly the Australian students have welcomed them.
"We are a small school community, and we are very inclusive," Mrs Compton said.
The school has a large Ezidi contingent: a quarter of the students (54 out of just over 200).
The Ezidi children, Mrs Compton said, want to succeed. "They work hard; they listen all the time; and they put up their hand to try new things."
Many have already received awards because they are outstanding students in the classroom. They've picked up English quickly, and their families appreciate the chance for the children to learn in a safe, secure environment.
"They're working to fit in; they want to belong; they want to fit into our school," Mrs Compton said. "Our mantra is Respect, Connect, Succeed. They fit that mantra so beautifully."
The local children have benefited, too. The Ezidis share their culture on Multicultural Day and Harmony Day. And the playground is full of happy Ezidi and Australian kids running, throwing balls, and playing sport.
The Australians teach the Ezidis the rules of the games; even if some children don't understand English, Mrs Compton said, the kids communicate with each other extremely well.
The student leaders were announced at a presentation day on Monday. The week before, each student who nominated for a position had to present a political speech to the entire school body.
Fifth and sixth grade had studied how parliament works, and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce and mayor Simon Murray talked about different levels of government.
Students and staff voted; Mrs Compton and a returning officer counted the votes; and announced the election results at the end of presentation day.
Cr Margaret O'Connor was at the ceremony, presenting council's award for citizenship to Riley Burton.
"Every child at Drummond is a winner," Cr O'Connor said, "but for the wider community, it's wonderful to know the Ezidi children are sparkling in their new schools here in Armidale, clearly both loved and respected by their peers."
"Drummond has over the last few years has really changed," Mrs Compton said. "The culture of the school is very different to what it used to be, and it is putting some outstanding students into high school."
Several students were well above the state level for science on the VALID test; and the school is pleased with its NAPLAN results (Year 3 literacy better than the norm).
"The teachers here work so hard to support their students and to get them learning," Mrs Compton said.