As the 2022 school year comes to an end and the newest batch of graduates celebrate the wonderful milestone of completing 13 years of schooling, some Year 12 students from across Western Sydney reflect on their experience – how they feel, what they have learned, what they will take away with them and what they hope to achieve.
St Patrick’s Marist College, Dundas student Amy Jahja had a big year. In addition to undertaking her final year of school, Amy also served as the Year 12 College Captain. When reflecting on her experience, she spoke about how her schooling has shaped who she is today.
“I believe one of my greatest achievements at school has been the ability to build my resilience when things have not gone my way. I’ve learnt to work harder and come back stronger when I haven’t gotten the result that I wanted,” Amy said. “I have great teachers to thank for that. Their encouragement and support have been a constant source of support.”
Amy also acknowledged the support of her friends and classmates, recognising the laughter, love and support she felt throughout her time at school.
Servant leadership opportunities were highlights of her learning and faith journey.
“St Patrick’s has helped me to grow in my faith, to place my trust in Jesus and follow in his footsteps,” she said. “This has been reflected through my servant leadership role – I was the Junior Environmental Captain, a Year 10 Peer Support Leader and a member of the Social Justice Group. Helping out at events and working with Marist Connect and Ekklesia Food Bank have been amazing highlights of my journey.”
Year 12 student Alisha Santos from Emmaus Catholic College Kemps Creek was the recipient of the Bishop’s Excellence Award earlier this year. She completed her schooling journey having been an active member of the student leadership team, school music ministry and various Social Justice initiatives. Her proud mum reflected on the passage of time at the awards in September.
“When I saw her getting her award, it brought back memories from when she was in Kindy and I started to get teary,” said her mother, April.
For Alisha, the culmination of her schooling has filled her with confidence to undertake the next stage of her life. She is planning to study for a Bachelor of Architecture in Fremantle next year and says she will take what she has learned from school into everything she does.
“I’ve learned that I’m capable, that I am independent and have really developed problem-solving skills,” Alisha said.
“The teachers were so supportive, especially around helping us with our mental health and wellbeing, they were always there to bring comfort and support and to help figure out solutions.” she said.
Alisha also noted that through her social justice work in community outreach, she was able to connect with lots of different types of people through things she was passionate about and good at, opportunities she credits to her Catholic schooling.
Louise Armstrong from Caroline Chisholm College Glenmore Park fondly reflects on her time at school and encourages her younger peers to relish every moment.
“Enjoy every moment, make the most of the time with friends and enjoy the support systems around you because it is really unbelievable and you won’t get that afterwards,” she said.
Sophia Trotnar from St John XXIII Catholic College Stanhope Gardens echoes this sentiment. She said even though some days could feel like they were ‘dragging on’ she would go back in a heartbeat to relive the time again.
“I would cherish the moments more and I would make sure to tell my teachers just how grateful I am for all of their support,” Sophia said. “Being able to reflect on the whole 13 years of school and my experience this year has given me the opportunity to realise who I am, what I am good at and what I need to work on as I finish school and step out into the adult world.”
With plans to study a Bachelor of Arts and Education (Secondary) at Macquarie University next year, Sophia hopes she can have the same positive impact on the next generation that she received throughout her years at school.
“I would love to teach in Catholic education and provide the same amazing opportunities for students that I received from my teachers,” she said. “I’d love to be able to give that to others.”
For further information about your local Catholic school including enrolment and career opportunities, please visit www.parra.catholic.edu.au.
From the beginning of 2023, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta will be known as Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd.
This article was originally published in the 2022 Advent | Summer 2022 edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can pick up your copy of the magazine in parishes and offices across the Diocese of Parramatta now or you can read the digital version here.