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Communities come together to remember teenage couple

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Two inner city Catholic colleges have been coming to terms with the tragic death of two former students, St Mary’s College graduate Chelsea Ireland, 19, and her boyfriend Lukasz Klosowski, 19, who was an old scholar of Christian Brothers College.

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As the news broke, Clare Nocka, principal of St Mary’s, issued a statement saying the community was “heartbroken at the loss of two fine young people” while Christian Brothers College principal Daniel Lynch said the school was “devastated” to learn of the tragic death of Lukasz.

Both schools offered counselling for anyone affected by the tragedy and organised separate memorial services to remember the young couple.

On September 23 past and present students and staff of the St Mary’s community, including Chelsea’s parents Greg and Debra and sister Maddie (Class of 2016), gathered to share their memories of a young woman who was determined to change the world.

Teachers who had taught Chelsea over her five year journey at St Mary’s spoke of a talented student who was not afraid to speak out for what she truly believed in.

“A true Dominican, involved in genuine dialogue, and also engaged in actions for the betterment of people and our world,” Rob Napoli, Assistant Principal Religious Identity and Mission told the hundreds who attended the memorial.

“She may have flown under the radar in some ways at school, she was humble and yet she listened to better understand and then responded from this deeply informed place. She was not afraid to speak out for what she truly believed in.

“She was an integral part of Ecommit and shared a massive passion for looking after our Mother Earth…and we both share a deep love for the Crows!”

Chelsea Ireland

Mr Napoli spoke of Chelsea’s involvement in the 2017 immersion to Oak Valley, which is in the Maralinga-Tjarutja Lands in the heart of the Great Victoria Desert, a trip where students connect with the Anangu people and learn about their culture and way of life.

“We joined a group of scientists from around the nation in an overnight Bush Blitz expedition, sleeping under the stars in our swags, and in this dry desert place the seeds of Chelsea’s future found fertile ground.

“Fast forward three years and she had started on her journey towards becoming a mechanical engineer, where she saw herself establishing the best platform to change the world.”

Teacher Sharon Clements said Chelsea was a St Mary’s girl “through and through”.

“If you were to select one student to represent our college it would be her. She cared about others, she cared about the community around her, she cared about the environment and she cared about social justice issues,” she said.

Maths teacher Julianne Price spoke of how Chelsea joined the Specialist Maths class half way through Year 11 and through hard work and commitment managed to catch up with the course and then excelled.

“It was really just a reflection and another example of Chelsea’s strength and commitment,” she said.

“It is typical because she tackled everything with commitment – her working to completely fund her overseas trip, her commitment to environment – I’m sure her mum and dad and sister will always put each piece of rubbish in the correct bin forever! And her commitment to causes, like PuddleJumpers.”

Members of the Class of 2018 also spoke fondly of a dear friend who had such an impact on their lives.

Anna Hilferty, a friend who studied Specialist Maths with Chelsea, said her classmate’s determination was a defining characteristic.

“I was blessed to experience this side of her in a variety of ways. The two of us also worked side by side in the social justice committee where she showcased to the world her true, genuine compassion and care for the people around her,” she said.

“It’s easy enough for all of us to talk about the values of social justice we are taught about here at St Mary’s College, but Chelsea truly lived them, each and every day of her life.

“Her and her boyfriend Lukasz made a profound and genuine impact on me, and I will continue to appreciate their kindness for the rest of my life.”

Sophie Ienari described her friend Chelsea as a “bright and enthusiastic girl who knew how to live in the moment”.

“She regarded every day to be a new experience filled with challenges and opportunities, instead of drifting through the day,” Sophie said.

“This enabled her to accomplish great things at such a young age by making the most of her time, whether that be trying new foods, visiting new places, socialising with friends, spending time with her family and Buddy, helping the homeless or starting fundraisers.”

Lukasz Klosowski

Hundreds from the CBC community also gathered to remember their ‘brother’ Lukasz and Chelsea.

In a message to the college community shortly after the event, head of CBC’s senior campus Lee Del Col wrote of Lukasz’s laid back approach to life.

“In 2018, and arguably his eight years at CBC, Lukasz thrived in the informal. He came to school every day happy to see the people he loved and to laugh,” Mr Del Col wrote.

“Lukasz was often late to classes as he would get ‘caught up’ talking to teachers or friends, deaf to the school bell as so entranced in a game of handball, and irrespective of how hot the day was, proudly wearing his Year 12 jacket everywhere. A jacket that rested upon the altar on Tuesday night, simply too empty in not being able to hug him anymore.”

Year 11 and 12 coordinator Krystle Helps recalled Lukasz’s “cheeky sense of humour” which would always see the room filled with laughter.

“He was such a gentle, kind and genuine young man that his peers held in high regard,” she said.

“Fiercely proud of his Polish heritage, Lukasz was quick to correct the mispronunciation of his name, but also saw the lighter side of this. His final Year 12 quote sums it up – ‘Mistakes are a part of life, but you’d think after eight years of schooling you would be able to get my name right… I guess Big Wu is fine’.

“His peers fondly recall his ‘surely!’ catch phrase which was frequently heard both during lessons and in the yard.

“A young man with such potential. He will be greatly missed by all of the CBC family.”

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