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Words count as Felix takes top English prize


With a goal to simply “read books and cultivate my love of stories”, Felix Kimber said it came as a complete surprise when he was named the winner of the prestigious Tennyson Medal for the highest mark in English Literary Studies in SACE.

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Presented the medal by Premier Steven Marshall at Government House last month, Felix’s outstanding achievement added to a long list of accomplishments during his schooling at Saint Ignatius’ College.

In Year 12 he achieved merits in Ancient Studies, Modern History, Research Project and English Literary Studies, as well as receiving numerous awards from Saint Ignatius’ including the
Fr Terry Kelly SJ Memorial Prize for ‘conspicuous influence in the life of the college’.

Felix (pictured), who belongs to the Norwood parish, said from the outset his focus during Year 12 had been “enjoying my studies and investing myself in my learning” and the thought of receiving the Tennyson Medal, which has been presented for more than a century, had never crossed his mind.

“English Literary Studies had always been a subject I enjoyed and was something of an escape from my other subjects,” he said.

“Strangely enough, doing well in the subject was never my primary objective; all I wanted to do was to read books and cultivate my love of stories.

“Good marks were a mere byproduct of this process, so to be told I had achieved the highest mark in the State was unexpected.”

Felix, 18, said one of the best parts of Year 12 was being able to choose subjects he cared about.

“I’m interested in history because of its breadth…it is the study of philosophy, politics, art, literature, culture, music and language. I’m also interested in the way that the construction of history can contribute to a society’s collective understanding of itself,” he said.

“I’m interested in classical studies because of its continuing importance in our modern world. So much of Western literary canon finds its genesis in classical works: Homer, Virgil, Ovid and many other writers. Archetypes and narrative trajectories that we see in modern texts were often first implemented by these poets.”

Reflecting on his final year of secondary schooling, Felix said one of the challenges was balancing his school work with extra-curricular commitments – which included playing football, cricket and water polo – fulfilling the duties of college vice-captain and Social Justice captain, and spending time with friends and family.

As Social Justice captain he was involved in several campaigns to support those in need. They included the ‘Winter Woolies’ initiative that saw warm clothes donated to the Moore St Day Centre; ‘Feed the Need’ which collected food items for the Norwood parish; and ‘Lunchboxes of Love’ where lunchboxes filled with personal hygiene items were donated to the St Vincent de Paul Society.

“The Catholic social justice principles have been really important in enriching my understanding of service and compassion. Principles like preferential option for the poor and the respect for human dignity guide my understanding of how one should treat those less fortunate than oneself,” Felix said.

His Catholic faith was also strengthened when he attended Kairos retreats, describing them as “terrific opportunities to reflect on your relationship to your faith and on how you ca


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