Something to celebrate

Posted on February 9, 2021

The pursuit of excellence is a cornerstone Joeys value. It is the realisation of our God-given talents, the fulfillment of the Marist work ethic and the embodiment of the school motto: “Striving for better things”. 

At the annual St Joseph’s College Academic Prize-giving ceremony these characteristics were on full display as the College honoured students who had excelled in their studies.  

Held in the Brother Emilian Hall, it was an opportunity for boys, teachers and parents to celebrate Joeys educational traditions and mark individual achievements. 

Resilience and adaptation in a year of Covid uncertainty were key themes, underlining the capacity of Joeys’ boys to produce their best in the most trying of circumstances. 

In his address, Headmaster Mr Ross Tarlinton said that “2020 boys were role models of determination in a year where things didn’t go their way in a way not seen since the great pandemic of 1919-1920.”  

Those in attendance were honoured to hear from guest speaker, leading Catholic schools educator, Professor Brother David Hall FMS. He expanded on Mr Tarlinton’s idea that courage and character are what defines Joeys boys. 

“The College is not just educating for employment,” he said, “it is educating character for fine young men.” 

In congratulating the prize-winners, he reminded all students of the necessity to put their skills and wisdom to use for the common good and make the world a better place. Invoking the African concept of Ubuntu – “I am what I am because of what we are” – he stressed the interconnectedness of humanity and the importance of pushing beyond our narrow preoccupations.

“Don’t live your life through a microscope,” he said. Live your life through a telescope.”

Across the board in 2020, Joeys achieved excellent academic results, but it is the Year 12 HSC cohort, with a remarkable 21 per cent of students receiving a mark of 90 or above, who deserve special mention. Not only did they perform to their potential, observed Director of Teaching and Learning Matt Bookallil, but they also maintained focus and output during the worst of the coronavirus. 

Dux Harrison Bentley thanked his parents and teachers for the role they played in his success and highlighted the unique camaraderie that exists among Joeys students.

“Joeys is less about the individual and more about the community … we lift each other up when it would be easier to push each other down; we rally and support each other.”

He ended his speech with a quote from the ancient Roman narrator, Cicero, that echoed Professor Hall’s sentiments: Non nobis solum nati sumus – “We are not born for ourselves alone.” 

An exceptional eight students from the the class of 2020 received an ATAR over 99.00. Aidan Kearns and Darcy Creagh both earned the second and third highest ATARs for the College in 2020, with 99.70 and 99.55 respectively. 

After the ceremony, prize-winning Year 12 students and their parents mingled in the Farrell Auditorium for snacks and light refreshments. 

For Liam O’Connell and his father Pat, it was a chance to reflect on a journey that began 400 kilometres away in Forbes and ended at Joeys with an impressive ATAR and the John Vale Memorial Prize for Service. Liam will study Communication (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University. “I hope I can contribute to a better public discourse and try to make a better society,” he said. “I want to make a difference.” Pat says his son fully embraced Joeys’ commitment to social conscience. “The Marist value of egalitarianism and the ethos of service is what we really like about the College,” he said.

Vince and Maz Creagh paid tribute to the teaching staff and their ability to instil a positive work ethic in students. Their son Darcy achieved an outstanding ATAR of 99.55, placing him third on the school’s honour board. “Joeys taught Darcy how to study from day one and he made the most of that,” Vince said. “They created good study habits.” Darcy agreed: “Hard work pays off. If you put in the effort, you will reap the rewards. That was ingrained in us from year seven.”

Tom Newton was recognised for his photography, which was included in the prestigious ARTEXPRESS exhibition of outstanding art created for the HSC. His Dad John said that Joeys helped Tom reach his potential as a student – and a human being. “He really discovered art at Joeys – photography is a passion he didn’t realise he had. Over the years, he has developed from a little boy to a self-aware young man.” Tom plans to study Medical Sciences and Law at Macquarie University and is thankful for the support he received at Joeys: “You’re never alone. There is always someone to help. You can do anything together, but to do things alone is a lot harder.”

Anne Coffey felt her son William’s outstanding ATAR rank of 99.5 could also be attributed, in part, to the network of care and support Joeys provides. “It’s so inclusive,” she said. “When he started boarding, it was like another family. The boys are all accepting of one another – it’s like another back-up.” 

Marist love of work was central to William’s success. He is about to study Engineering and Commerce at Sydney University. “If you love your work, you’ll keep on doing it regardless of the circumstances,” he said. “Especially during Covid, this idea was very important.” William’s father, Simon, believes the values his son has acquired at Joeys will stand him in good stead in his future endeavours. “I hope William continues to work hard and challenge himself and if he does both of those things he will continue to achieve what he wants out of life.”

The Year 12 cohort of 2020 brought great acclaim to St Joseph’s in a year blighted by the pandemic. Their steely determination serves as a reminder to the rest of the school of the importance of perseverance and supporting each other through difficult times. As Mr Tarlinton pointed out, their conduct goes to the very essence of what it means to be a Joeys student. “If you can look back at your time at the College and honestly say you have achieved your potential as a student and also a friend, a leader and a witness to the Marist spirit, then you have excelled.”

St Joseph’s College would like to congratulate all 2020 prize-recipients and wish them every success in the years ahead.