Unhip as it looks, kids dressed as chefs are yelling "Pumped up on Pumpkin!" after the winning basket's been scored in a helter-skelter game of half-court hoops. A dozen high-school students from Yiyili Aboriginal Community School, two hours east of Fitzroy Crossing, are making a video about healthy eating. The taller chefs have roped in a mob of younger students as extras. Director Sabina Cox calls "Cut." The scene ends. And a supervised chaos, a pause in the normal school day, resumes. The black ball flies from hand to hand, and skinny legs and arms flail in an exuberant choreography. Soon the bell for lunch will summon a well-ordered procession to the community store for a hot meal, the teachers will retreat to their homes for an hour of down time, and the classrooms sit empty on the edge of the desert, soundless except for the murmur of wind. Yiyili, excised from Louisa Downs Station, is considered to be a model remote community. Assorted ministers and politicians from all over the nation have come here to see good news in the makingand, if you look on the walls of the administrative offices, to be photographed. Plans are afoot to capture more of the tourist dollar, through art and guided tours of Gooniyandi country. "The demise of trad-itional communities is due to structures, such as the [defunct] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Comm-ission, that have been imposed from afar by governments," says school principal Len Boyle. "It's far better now that the money, and responsibility, is in the hands of local comm-unities." Independently run by an Aboriginal community board, the school draws on funding from Perth, Canberra and philanthropists. Indeed, filing grant applications is the heart of Boyle's toil. With his graying hair, trim moustache and park-ranger look, Boyle is a soothing presence. The one-time carpenter and technical college teacher has been at Yiyili for nine years. Although many first-year graduates have passed this way on an adventure, several experienced teachers have made long-term commitments to the school of 60 students. The word is that Boyle's longevity, persistence and calm temperamenttogether with the leadership of board chairman Norman Coxexplain much of the school's success. Boyle, who witnessed a long, slow decline, senses that things may have turned around for indigenous people. "Local knowledge is so important," he says. "If you can get the right people on the ground to work with elders and the community's board, you can get these people off the ground." The school buildings are education-department issue in a wilderness setting. But the surrounds are graffiti-free and cleanquite different from most remote settlements. The children are managing a vegetable patch, dwarfed by tall sunflowers; the playground equipment is still functioning. In Miss Kristina's class for little onesAdiliah, Adoniah, Camille, Charlotte, Dudley, Elaine, Garry, Shonetta, Sunray, Tuwannah, Vaughan and Vondellathey are playing a memory game with shapes. All the kids appear to be well-fed, with a piece of fruit never far out of reach (Boyle has to hide the supplies). At playtime, games are spirited and fair. A covered basketball court (like an oasis in summer, says one teacher) evokes a savannah cathedral. It's owned, and used, by the whole community (for everything from concerts to funerals). The sound of industrial drills comes from inside an extension to the community's Laari gallery; the almost-completed annex will have a crèche, studio space, a kitchen and an area for the gallery's managers to catalogue art works. Yiyili is not perfect. Alcohol abuse, considered to be a manageable evil here, rears its head whenever someone carts in several cases of beer. Young males are turning to marijuana, says Boyle. Life can be grueling for kids on the surrounding outstations; parents often take them for extended visits to relatives or for ceremonies and they miss large chunks of learning. Few students achieve anything beyond the most basic education standards. Although, spurred by teachers, some at Yiyili are about to aim higher. One of Boyle's scourges is passive welfare, in particular the indigenous work-for-the-dole known as the Community Development Employment Program. "At 16 they're eligible for the CDEP," the principal says. "The participants are not supervised. There's no project officer or coordinator for these things, and hence no prospect of real employment." Pim Dedert runs information technology programs at the school. His tidy computer room is the students' main active link to the wider world. (Of course, there's no escape from television, that passive friend in a box to children everywhere.) Still, Dedert says, students are not greatly interested in making distant connections with others via the Internet; e-mail is used sparingly, if at all. "The outside world is a TV world," says Boyle. "This community, where their relatives and friends live, that's their world." The school and elders are trying to equip children with enterprise skills, he adds, so they can eventually earn a decent living at Yiyilithrough art, horticulture, and tourism. "This place can be the modern world for them," he says. "They don't have to leave here if they don't want to."