One of the major milestones was the establishment of the Virtual Academy as part of the continued rollout of the Gifted Education in schools across the Diocese.
The Virtual Academy provides a flexible online platform that can be accessed 24-hours-a-day and gives students units of work that go beyond what is provided in a regular classroom. As part of their work the 35 students in the academy were tasked with completing a research project. Students chose either a local or global issue or challenge - and then designed a solution.
At the end of term last year, the Virtual Academy students shared their completed projects with their Virtual Academy peers and parents.
Phoebe Lawrence of St Therese’s, New Lambton designed a vertical village to reduce the environmental effects of urban sprawl while Ethan Hudson of Holy Name, Forster researched how the influx of tourists increased rubbish and impacted garbage collection. He also designed a garbage bin - in the shape of a wave - to be placed on Forster beach. This is to encourage people to clean up their rubbish.
Their efforts attracted the attention of the Newcastle Herald which late last year produced an article about their projects.
Another student who attracted the Herald’s attention was Year 6 student, Famke McCallum from St Mary’s, Warners Bay.
Famke won the Port Stephens Council for Social Enterprise Award at the Hunter Young Business Mind Awards. The awards challenge students to come up with an idea or invention and make a two-minute video explaining the idea and why they are passionate about it.
Famke won her award for her mobile app and hearing device that delivers positive messages to users in an attempt to counteract and prevent mental health issues.
Her invention was inspired by the work of the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation which, among other things, brings children to Australia who have with medical conditions that cannot be treated by their local doctors.
The device, similar to that of a hearing aid, is fitted into the wearer’s ear. The device senses changes in body temperature to detect the wearer’s mood and delivers quotes and advice into the ear of the wearer when it detects a negative mood. It aims to keep the wearer remain calm and stimulate a healthy mind by reducing stress and anxiety.
As the youngest entrant, Famke took home $1,000 for her winning entry.
On the HSC front, students from our schools in the Diocese achieved some outstanding results in 2018 - with one of our students in the First in Course list, seven in the All Rounders list and 146 in the Distinguished Achievers list.
Clayton Carlon from All Saints’ College, St Mary’s Campus, Maitland achieved First in Course in New South Wales for Industrial Technology.
Other students in the Top Course Mark in the state were:
- Bradley Montroy of All Saints College, Maitland – second in Engineering Studies
- Alex Vaughan of St Catherine’s, Singleton – fifth in Industrial Technology
- Sophie Derkenne of All Saints College, Maitland – fifth in English (Extension Two)
- Sydney Slade of All Saints College, Maitland – eighth in Geography
- Matthew Parvin of St Clare’s in Taree – ninth in Industrial Technology.
On the All Rounders list there were five students from All Saints’ College, Maitland and two students from St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton. They were:
- Lily Cains - All Saints' College, Maitland
- Clayton Carlon - All Saints' College, Maitland
- Sophia Derkenne - All Saints' College, Maitland
- Bradley Montroy - All Saints' College, Maitland
- Sydney Slade -All Saints' College, Maitland
- Jasmine Sullivan - St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton
- Hannah Hickey - St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton.
On the list of students who achieved Band 6 results there were:
- 29 students from St Catherine's Catholic College, Singleton
- 34 students from All Saints’ College
- 37 from St Francis Xavier’s College
- 21 from St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen
- 21 from St Clare's High School, Taree
- 17 students from St Paul’s Catholic College, Booragul.
Diocesan Dux, for achieving the highest ATAR in all our schools, was Jasmine Sullivan of St Francis Xavier’s, Hamilton.
Gerard Mowbray, Acting Director of the Catholic Schools Office, had this to say about the results:
“In recognising the magnificent achievements of our students, it is important that we honour all HSC teachers. Taking a HSC class is both a privilege and a challenge. I well know the commitment such staff take to walk such a journey with their students over two years to ensure they effectively manage assessment and the exams. The hours of preparation, marking and overall individual support for each student’s needs is something that at this time of year it is so important to recognise.
“It is important, also, to recognise the love, support and patience of family through the HSC period. Families are amazing support networks at such a demanding time and we celebrate the role they have played.
“Every student and their families should have a serious sense of pride in their individual accomplishments.”
Gerard said that the HSC is a stepping stone for all students, adding:
“I congratulate every student who has completed his or her HSC. This credential is a rigorous and challenging one and requires serious commitment and persistence or successfully navigate it.
“It is important that students realise the HSC is just a pathway to the future. Its importance is in allowing each student to create a purposeful next step in their lives and careers. It is also vital to understand that there are many pathways towards that next step and it is vital that students seek that appropriate advice to access the right next step for them,” he said.
“I am confident that our students who have completed their HSC will have bright futures.
“Research released earlier this year showed that those who went to Catholic schools seem to have an advantage in the jobs market.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics examined people who were in Year 11 or Year 12 in 2011, and then tracked what they were doing in 2016.
There were 514,000 Year 11 and 12 students in 2011 and most had a job in 2016.
The research showed that those educated at a Catholic secondary school were more likely to be employed five years later (with 76.7 per cent in a job) compared with 68.5 per cent for public schools and 71.9 per cent for non-Catholic private schools.