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Tertiary prize winners

Talented students from multiple schools, including two sets of sisters, were the star attractions when 23 Awards were given at the Annual Prize Giving staged by A Start in Life at the Taronga Park Function Centre in April.

Family, friends, sponsors and officials were generous in applause as the students qualified for honours in five different categories: primary school, high school, tertiary, humanitarian and general awards at the 2019 ceremony.

The sister duos were Anna (Primary school) and Agnes (High School) and Casey (High school) and Amy (General). The Hodgson Memorial Prize for Tertiary Top Graduate was claimed by Hannah while Melissa received the Old Masonian Jubilee Prize as the Outstanding All Rounder.

Winners of the Beryl Rudd Prize Winners of the Beryl Rudd Prize for Humanitarian Awareness with Garry Sayer of the Leichhardt Masonic Hall Co (back left) and Anne Ellison, A Start in Life Executive Committee member (back right).A Start in Life expressed its thanks to all the lodges, masons, organisations and individuals who have given their support to assist the organisation to continue providing for the educational needs of students as long as they require assistance.

Hannah began receiving support in 2018 when in her final year of study in Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science and after completion was able to obtain employment as a radiographer. When her parents were unable to help financially, the organisation support given to her included contributions towards accommodation, internet, living expenses, food and transport, laptop and printer consumables.

Melissa, the Outstanding All Rounder, had few doubts about the future. She is in Year 9, lives with her mother in government housing and obtained an A grade in English, Maths, History, Technology and French and a B grade in all other areas.

‘I motivate myself by trying to get a higher mark than last time and when I see an improvement I know my hard work has paid off. I know my mum is proud of me as well and this is what motivates me to keep going,’ she said. The support she was given included school fees, excursions, uniforms, school shoes, reading books and tuition.

Sometimes it is difficult to adjust when transferring to a higher class but Ryan was so successful he was given the Albert C Petrie prize for Encouragement and Achievement in the transition from Year 12 to university. In his second year at university, he is studying for a Bachelor of Science. Though he has had to move 300km from home to attend university, assist his mother with her health issues and keep on top of their financial problems, he has passed all eight university subjects in 2018 and wants to become an engineer. His assistance from A Start in Life was towards accommodation costs on campus, living expenses in food and transport, printing costs and books.

The Chief Executive Officer of A Start in Life, Neil Robinson, thanked everyone for joining them for a small celebration of some rather large achievements by the students.

‘We are honoured to have been part of another remarkable year for our students. Our innovative model of tailored and in-depth support continued to inspire improvements in academic performance, confidence, resilience, motivation and wellbeing. It did so whilst also giving students opportunities to explore new hobbies, learn new skills and develop new friendships, within both their school and wider communities.

‘Today, however we will provide some extra special recognition to just 23 of these students who overcame the various obstacles each faced to education and whose efforts were both extraordinary and nothing short of inspiring.

‘Each of these students eagerly took on every opportunity that was provided, and each of you approached your studies and extra-curricular pursuits with a level of passion, dedication and drive that will, no doubt, pave the way for your brighter future.

Recognition for students ceremonyEagerly awaiting the start of the award ceremony‘To these students, we trust you will take home not only your well-deserved awards and prizes, but also a great sense of accomplishment. You have done extremely well and you have every reason to be very proud. We are certainly very proud of each one of you!

‘It is just over a year ago that we made some enhancements to our program of support. Key within those enhancements was the development of learning goals that Jason and Georgina, our Student Support Team, now agree with each of our younger students and their parents.

‘These learning goals seek to address areas of academic underdevelopment, encourage behavioural change, such as building a study routine, lifting classroom participation, fostering new interests and focusing on the attainment of personal goals, for example raising self-esteem.

‘We are very pleased that so many of these learning goals have been attained, or are well on their way to being reached. What has however, really delighted us, are the many other unexpected outcomes we have been advised have arisen from this. For instance, parents indicated it was easier to remind their children of what they had agreed to do. Parents also had a greater understanding of their role in after school study. These goals helped our Student Support Team to tailor support to newly identified classroom needs and helped ensure there was a consistent understanding of student expectations between home and school.

‘I also wish to acknowledge the generous individuals, community groups and organisations that A Start in Life has been able to count on for support, over the 96 years in which we have been assisting students and families in need.’

Article extracted from Freemason magazine, June 2019, pages 16 and 17.

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