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Getting on board for city studies


Tackling Year 12 can be daunting at the best of times, but spare a thought for those students who have to manage their final year of secondary study while living hundreds of kilometres from their family.

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For some students, completing their Catholic school education means they move away from their home to become a boarder at a college in the ‘big smoke’. Only a handful of Catholic schools offer boarding facilities, one being Sacred Heart College at Brighton which accommodated 125 boarders in 2017.

For more than a century, families from rural, regional and remote parts of South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and beyond have been sending their children to the boarding school which embraces the Marist tradition.

In recent years SHC, including the boarding house, has achieved outstanding academic results and as a consequence boarders are now studying and working in a variety of areas around the world. Boarders from Port Augusta, Naracoorte and Clare are currently studying medicine, while others from Alice Springs, Ceduna and Broken Hill are studying law. Importantly, many boarders are pursuing studies in farming, engineering and mining-related fields with the intention of returning to their homes to contribute to their local communities.

Director of Sacred Heart Boarding, Shane Hennessy, said the college was understandably proud of the achievements of these students who had taken their studies in their stride despite living away from home.

“Each year we are excited to see what our boarders will go on to do. For example Josh Smith, who was a boarder from the Clare Valley, was one of seven students in the State to achieve a perfect ATAR in 2016 and he is currently studying medicine. This year Gemma Thomas, a boarder from Roxby Downs, is about to commence her own journey to become a doctor.

“Michael Quinn was a boarder from the Riverland and he and his family are currently working in Mexico for the Bill Gates Foundation. Michael is working with farmers in a rural area south of Mexico City assisting them to improve productivity of their crops.

“There are young women and men working all around Australia and in countries overseas – and boarding at Sacred Heart College has played a part in their journey,” he said.

Mr Hennessy added that boarders have an “ideal environment” in which to achieve their best academically. They are well supported with tutors on hand to help with homework, study and revision, and they also have significant access to their teachers.

“There are set study periods from Sunday to Thursday and boarders have to hand their phones in to carers during study. Teachers will frequently visit the boarding community to help groups of boarders, especially in the lead up to exams.”



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