Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta has once again taken out the Training Provider of the Year at the NSW Training Awards. At the same time, Year 10 student Ethan Zammit has been named VET in Schools Student of the Year.
A leader in Vocational Education and Training, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) has 80 schools across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. This includes Ethan’s school, St Mark’s Catholic College (part of the Catholic Learning Community of St John XXIII Stanhope Gardens).
“CEDP’s success is due to our staff and their commitment,” said CEDP Executive Director Greg Whitby. “Their passion feeds through to students. It enables them to find meaning, provide opportunities and fuels their joy of learning.”
Greg’s comments drew praise from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) with Inspector Vocational Education Catherine Tucker tweeting, “Great way to sum up VET and your students’ experience. Congratulations and well done to your committed staff.”
CEDP delivers VET programs across 26 sites and through the virtual School of Now and the range of courses gives students the freedom to explore many job roles and industries they’re interested in.
“We are training for now and the future to meet workforce demands in a rapidly changing world,” said Greg. “Our contribution to the training of young people in Western Sydney continues to assist industry in this expanding region. It’s critical that we offer students any pathway and any opportunity to help them achieve their life goals.”
Despite being one of the youngest entrants, Ethan already possesses an impressive repertoire of skills and VET qualifications. He is planning a career in the entertainment industry.
“The NSW Training Awards have been an amazing experience and something that I am so proud and honoured to have been a part of,” said Ethan. “It was incredible to win the regional award and to win the state award is even more amazing. Of course, none of this would be possible without the hard work of my teachers and other staff at my school.”
Despite the lockdown limiting the ability of many students to progress with VET courses, it hasn’t deterred Ethan from working on developing relevant skills at home.
“I’m lucky that I have access to some audio and editing programs at home plus things like microphones, speakers, webcams,” Ethan said. “My friends and I have had fun seeing who can come up with the coolest setup with multiple cameras for zooms and stuff like that.”
Ethan’s interest in Entertainment started at a very young age when his family became an integral part of the new St John XXIII Catholic Parish Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens.
“It all started in church with my dad who has always been there since it was built 15 years ago, overseeing the musical side of things,” explained Ethan. “I grew up in the Church and as he ran the choir, I got introduced to audio engineering and mixing audio for church.”
Years of learning from his father and taking on various technical roles at his church helped Ethan acquire some impressive skills. It says something about the talent of a young primary school student when they’re called on by staff to guide senior school students and that was exactly the case for Ethan.
“It all sort of got serious for me when I was actually in primary school at John XXIII Primary,” Ethan explained. “The Director of Religion at St Mark’s Catholic College would come and get me and I’d take the secondary school students up to the church and show them how everything worked.”
“Then I got to high school and found out there’s an Entertainment course and a Sound and Lighting Club and I very quickly found my place with that. I found that I already knew quite a lot of the skills through church and so I was able to mentor some of the other students.”
Ethan and other members of the school’s Sound and Lighting Club were integral to St Mark’s introducing the VET Entertainment course midway through 2020.
“We asked the school and managed to get the Entertainment course up and running midway through last year and we had to put in extra hours to catch-up on all the school work,” said Ethan.
“This was all at the same time that the COVID pandemic was unravelling. It was a very strange thing, especially for a course as practical as Entertainment. We were trying to learn about events and event management without having any proper events we could work on. Thankfully the teachers at St Mark’s were fantastic with helping us find other ways of learning the hands-on components of the course.”
Ethan has been supported at school by Catholic Learning Community of John XXIII Music & VET Entertainment Industry Teacher Mark Lewis who shared how impressed the whole school has been with Ethan’s endeavours.
“Ethan has been responsible for set-up and pack down plus operating sound and lighting systems for numerous school productions and events such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, HSC Drama and Music practical exams, college assemblies, open nights, concerts and Masses, swimming and athletics carnivals and careers events,” said Mark. “As a result of Ethan’s passion and dedication to so many events, he has developed his technical skills and experience in audio, lighting, vision and staging outside the classroom.”
Despite being in Year 9, Ethan went on to complete the VET Entertainment course as early commencement. Now in Year 10, he’s excited to add to his burgeoning skill set by undertaking more VET courses.
“It’s just so obvious how transferable the skills are that you learn in VET courses,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing another VET course soon, perhaps Business.”
Ethan has also taken on added responsibility at his church and prior to the lockdown, enjoyed an eye-opening work experience stint at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.
“After starting the course, I was also appointed AV and IT Co-ordinator at my church,” said Ethan. “I was tasked with upgrading our entire IT system. I was researching equipment, organising quotes, all the while using skills I had been learning in my Entertainment course.”
“I loved doing work experience at Riverside Theatres. It really opened my eyes to how a big venue like this operates. Being on the job and doing the work has been such a great learning experience. I hope I might go on to get a job in production for performing arts one day.”
With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.