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During assembly on Friday 14 September, 19 students received either their Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards. The awards were presented by Stephen Mason, Executive Officer of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award- Victoria and Mr Mahamed Ahmed, Programs and Engagement Manager.

The Duke of Edinburgh program is an internationally recognised award that invites young people aged 14-25 to realise their ambitions and to change their world.

Young people challenge themselves by choosing activities that spark their interest in the three sections of the award – service, physical and skill. They set their own goals and work towards achieving them over the given time period.

The Bronze Award is the first level of the program and involves a 3 – 6 month commitment in the three areas of skill, physical and service plus four days of an Adventurous Journey. The Silver award is a 6-12 month commitment across the three activities and involves a total of six days of adventurous journey or exploration.

Congratulations to the following students achieved their Bronze and Silver awards:

Bronze Award:  Year 11 – Aaron Zhou

Silver Awards: Year 11 – Eliza Allen, Ashlea Cross, Olivia Cross, Erin Doupe, Matthew Evans, Molly Fleming, Vishnu Pillay, Julia Rosenbrock, Kaitlyn Woodhill, Mitchell Wooller

Year 12 – Daniella Cosentino, Jimmy Cox, Miranda Molnar, Elizabeth O’Dell.

The Gold Award is a very significant achievement and highly regarded in the community worldwide. Four Year 12 students received their badge in the assembly: Niamh Lewin, Tara McAsey, Ruby Wensor and Joel Williams.

These students did not come through the Bronze or Silver program and commenced with the Gold award, which means that for one of their activities they had to commit to an 18-month program. The other two activities were 12 months each. The adventurous journey component was a minimum of eight days. In addition, each student undertook a residential project, which involved living away from home in an unfamiliar environment with people that they would not normally stay with whilst undertaking an activity for six hours a day. In all four cases, the students undertook projects within a community vastly different from their own.

Niamh Lewin and Joel Williams completed their residential projects just outside of Jaipur in Northern India in a Children’s village as part of the World Challenge program in 2016. They spent six days in the community and their program included helping with lessons at the adjacent primary school, preparing meals in the kitchens and playing with the children during sport time every day. In addition, they undertook two big construction projects – the laying of brick paths around the onsite craft center and the laying of foundations for a covered walkway from the village entrance to the school at the opposite end. The building materials were paid for by funds raised from projects held here at Tintern.

Ruby Wensor also completed her residential project in India during World Challenge. She spent six days at a rural primary school in Haripad, which is in Kerala, a state in Southern India. She spent time playing with the children and helped around the school, painting walls, gardening and helping local labourers with tiling and plastering the classroom. The money spent on refurbishing the school was raised by her team’s colour run, which was held earlier that year.

Tara McAsey spent a week at the Ntaria school for indigenous students in the Northern Territory outside Alice Springs in the September holidays in 2016. She stayed with a local teacher and worked with the students and members of the Indigenous community in order to understand social justice issues. She participated actively in the classroom and was able to learn about community cultural customs, traditions and events in the Western Arrernte Community. She also volunteered at the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct.

For Niamh, Tara, Ruby and Joel these residential projects will remain in their memories forever. Volunteering in such a capacity is a two-way exchange. Whilst these students may have left thinking that they were the ones doing the giving, they returned richer and wiser for their experiences with an understanding and respect for another culture and way of life.

Congratulations to these students on respective Duke of Edinburgh awards.

by Anne Bortolussi, Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator