Wednesday, 1 October 2014
A significant milestone for year 12 students on the Central Coast has been reached, because they are now marking their final moments in high school. Over the past several weeks graduation ceremonies have been taking place across the Central Coast, and it has been an honour to be present at many of them. For students and for their proud parents these are the important times of excitement but also reflection and consolidation before the important Higher School Certificate exams. Seeing the joy in these young people's faces as memories came flooding back and friendships were savoured made each presentation event that I attended that much more special.
One of the most significant ceremonies this year has been the first ever graduation of year 12 students from Kariong Mountains High School. This school opened in 2010 after years of campaigning from the community. The foundation cohort, who began in year 8, helped in designing the school's motto, uniform, logo and, importantly, its reputation. The 48 students who graduated last week as the first year 12 class are now well placed to pursue pathways in higher education or traineeships. Handing medallions to each of these students was a great honour, and it took me back to my own final days as a student at Gosford Christian School in Narara. Back then, that school was also new on the Central Coast, and it was a tremendous honour to be a part of the first graduating class of Gosford Christian School in 1990.
Principal Ann Vine, Deputy Principal Scott White, Founding Deputy Principal Gus Vrolyk and Year Adviser Peta Werlemann from the Kariong Mountains High School have done an outstanding job in joining with the community to build the school up to what it is today right there in the Mount Penang area. The school is known for its specialisation in biosciences and technology, but what was obvious was how hard the school works towards its values of unity, knowledge and respect.
Matilda Eder and Bradley Rodrick spoke eloquently as school captains at the graduation ceremony, and Matilda has received a Global Leadership Award to study law at Macquarie University. She also received an award for her academic rigour along with Emily Dart, Erik Tults and Koji Yijima.
At St Joseph's Catholic College at East Gosford there was also genuine pride in their academic achievements and the school's culture. The students spoke fondly about growing from being 'Joeys Girls' into 'Mackillop Women' in the spirit of Mary MacKillop, and it was also a great honour to be there. The night was superbly run by Principal Tony McCudden and Year Leader Dave Matthews, and it was hosted by Holy Spirit Church at Kincumber.
I must congratulate all the students, including Riley Evans, who won Sportswoman of the Year and who has been called into the state and national basketball teams; Dana Hawton, whose service to the community includes being a member of the Rural Fire Service despite her youth; and Jade Antcliffe, who received the University of Newcastle Award for Academic Excellence, which includes a $2,000 Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship.
I would also like to commend Narara Valley High School, whose Year 12 Graduation has also taken place recently. I commend the Principal Michael Smith, Year Adviser Britt Fowell and the impressive school captains, Shae Wright and Lachlan Head. Shae also received the Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership Award, and Lachlan was presented with the Senior Service award. Eddison King was Narara Valley's recipient of an excellence award from the University of Newcastle.
There were many other outstanding students on display at all three of these schools, and the fantastic news is that this government is providing all students with more choice and more opportunities. We are doing this by expanding the demand-driven Commonwealth funding system for those who go on to study higher education diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees as well as for the graduates who study at non-university higher education institutions doing bachelor courses. More than 80,000 additional students each year will benefit from this by 2018. Those from a low socioeconomic background on the Coast can tap into the greatest scholarship scheme in Australia's history. This might include needs based scholarships to help meet costs of living. It could also cover fee exemptions, tutorial support, or assistance at other critical points in their study. Finally, from 2016 universities will be able to set their own tuition fees. This will mean that the conditions will be right so that regional universities will be able to successfully compete to attract more students. And, of course, students do not have to pay a cent up front and only repay their loans once they are earning a decent income.
So, as these students on the Central Coast bid farewell to year 12, I wish every single one of them in this important time in their lives all the best in their study and their future endeavours.