Exploring student agency at the Young Voices Exhibition

As part of the Catholic Schools Office Virtual Academy, students from across the diocese recently gathered at the University of Newcastle to participate in the Young Voices Exhibition.

The Young Voices Exhibition allows students studying the academy’s Agency unit to showcase what they have worked on throughout the term. Students are encouraged to think across disciplines to research and solve problems in an area of interest to them. 

In addition to the exhibition, the university excursion included a workshop on digital footprint, a debate circle, University of Newcastle Ambassador talks, and a tour. 

Check out some of the student’s exhibits below!


St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar

Inspired by his love of books, Oliver’s exhibit investigated agency through the decision-making process of his favourite literary characters.

“My project shows how agency can be shown through characters in reading and writing,” he said.

“When people view my exhibit, I want them to feel excited about books.”

In addition to presenting his work, Oliver was excited for the opportunity to explore the other exhibits.  

“It’s good to be able to see what my Virtual Academy peers have been working on and it’s good to talk about it,” he said.

“The Virtual Academy has also helped with time management and making me think outside the box. Those are core skills in life.”



St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead

Ivy’s exhibit caused quite a stir with her no-bake cooking demonstrations.

“We’re making no-bake chocolate crackles,” Ivy said.

“No-bake recipes help the environment. Not using an oven and strove reduces electricity.”

“It’s important to me because I love baking and helping the environment. It feels good to choose a topic I’m passionate about. I liked doing stuff by myself and figuring out stuff by myself.”



Holy Family Primary School, Merewether

Lily’s exhibit aimed to inspire creativity and confidence through dance.

“Today is the Young Voices Exhibition for 2024 where the Virtual Academy Agency students come together to present on what they are passionate about and what they want to raise awareness about,” she said.

“My project is about creativity and self-expression and I’m doing that through dance because that’s how I express myself.”

“Young people want to be creative and express themselves. If you can be confident and explore your own passions, that can help you in the future.”

Lily used the exhibition as an opportunity to workshop her own choreography, and said it was a great way to develop her presentation skills.

“Days like this are important for students to work on their communication skills and to have fun,” she said.

“The Virtual Academy has helped me with my digital skills and my social skills too, and it has challenged my learning.”



St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether

With change on the horizon, Year 6 student, Amelie chose to explore the concept of friendship and how relationships can change over time. Especially when transitioning to high school.

“Here at the Young Voices Exhibition, we get to express our creativity through what we’ve created,” she said.

“I’ve chosen to do mine on friendship and I’ve created a painting which shows the different seasons with a different number of friends to show how friendships change over time. I’ve also made a PowerPoint about what to do when your friends get into an argument.”

“I’m going to high school next year so my friends could change.”

“I think the Virtual Academy has challenged me because I have been learning new things and trying things that I haven’t tried before. It helps me to take a different approach to my schoolwork and to think of things from a different perspective.”



Holy Name Primary School, Forster

Max made the two-hour trip from Forster to take part in the Young Voices Exhibition. His work explored the importance of collaboration and listening to each other’s ideas when creating safe spaces for play and relaxation.

“I’ve brought a collaborative artwork and map that I’ve asked people to interact with to make an artwork to see how they work together,” he said.

“People can add objects that represent their ideas. I like making art and I just wanted to create something that people could do together.”

“It feels great to do something like this. It’s nerve-racking before but it’s really fun once you’re doing it. You get to do something you’re really passionate about and it’s something you get to work on by yourself.”


Ayla and Elsie

St John Vianney Primary School, Morisset

Ayla and Elsie’s exhibit delved into the joy and responsibility of pet care, illustrating how caring for your pets can lead to a greater appreciation and stewardship of nature.

“Our exhibit is about proper pet care, especially guinea pigs,” Elsie said.

“It’s important to spread awareness because if pets aren’t cared for properly, they can escape and tear apart nature.”

Ayla agrees, adding that it’s important for your pet’s quality of life.  

“It’s just better for your furry friend to have a better life. It’ll make them happy,” she said.

Ayla and Elsie chose to showcase pet care through the love they have for their own petite companions – their guinea pigs. To convey this message, they created a series of paintings and sculptures to depict the link between caring for your pets and environmental stewardship.

“We’ve been inspired by our guinea pigs. We have 11 guinea pigs between us,” Ayla said.

“We want to promote compassion and sustainability. It’s really cool to come here and share what we have done with bunch of people.”



St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton

Levi’s exhibit facilitated a workshop to teach people how to draw as a means to share his passion for art and robotics.

“I’m teaching people how to draw,” he said.

“I’m excited to be able to show what I like to do.”



St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead

Claye attended the Young Voices Exhibition excited to share his passion for Aboriginal Culture and traditional song.

“My exhibit explores Aboriginal Culture and I’m going to perform the Aboriginal lullaby, Inanay,” he said.

“Aboriginal culture is and will always be respected by me since I am Aboriginal myself. I think that if we recognise Aboriginal culture, we can improve life for all.”

“I think it’s important to choose what we want to do because I think people excel more when they follow their passions.”  

“Virtual Academy has helped me a lot. I used to be quiet but now I talk more, and I’ve learnt more skills. I’m glad that I get to do this.”



Our Lady of Victories Primary School, Shortland

Millie’s exhibit explored gender inequality as a way to educate her peers on gender-based violence.

“I’ve made a video that includes facts about gender-based violence and how to stop it,” she said.

“I heard that every four days a woman dies in Australia, and I thought that was really wrong, so I decided to share that with people.”

“I want young people here to watch my video so that they also know how to identify it.”

“I feel really passionate about this topic and the Virtual Academy gave me the chance to learn more about it.”

“It’s challenged me to reach outside my comfort zone by sharing my work and coming to different events to meet new people. It feels really good to do something like this and I don’t think I would have if it wasn’t for the VA.”

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