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Recognising outstanding young citizens


Ten graduates from Catholic colleges in South Australia will be acknowledged for their commitment to both their studies and their local communities at the presentation this month of the 2023 Governor of South Australia Commendations for excellence in Year 12.

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A total of 40 commendations will be presented by Her Excellency The Honourable Frances Adamson AC at Government House on February 8.

The awards recognises excellence in Stage 2 SACE subjects and students’ personal achievements inside and outside the school community.

Four of the Catholic college recipients were also the 2023 dux of their school.

The 10 graduates are:

Mia Eliseo, Saint Ignatius’ College (story page 1)

Olivia Harwood, Nazareth Catholic Community

A talented public speaker, Olivia took on the role of MC at the Catholic Schools Music Festival. In her Activating Identities and Futures (AIF) subjects Olivia explored the intricacies of international space law. Olivia is also a gifted musician and, outside of school, is band captain for the Woodville Concert Band. Olivia was also dux of Nazareth with an ATAR of 99.35. The college captain plans to study a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical and Computer Sciences. “I love space and hope to major in aerospace engineering, leading me to a career in the Australian space industry,” she said.

Keeley Hurst

Keeley Hurst, Xavier College

In 2023, Keeley lobbied the local community businesses and sporting clubs for donations toward care packages to Catherine House. Keeley volunteers at her local football and netball clubs in a variety of roles, including working in the canteen, providing sales assistance, and acting as scorer and umpire for both senior and junior grades.

Adrian Niculescu, Sacred Heart College

Adrian was heavily involved in debating, public speaking and policy advocacy. He was selected as one of 12 SA representatives at the 2023 National Schools Constitutional Convention in Canberra and as the recipient of The Advertiser Teen Parliament in 2022, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship. Adrian represented SA in the national finals of the United Nations Youth Voice competition in 2022. He volunteers for a major political party, which includes phone canvassing, booth management and letterboxing, data collection and analysis. He is also the recipient of the Australian Army Cadets SA Brigade Student of Merit. He was selected as the sole SA representative for the SA Army Cadets for the National Tri Service Leadership Summit.

Adrian said despite the consistent challenge of expressing and holding opinions that differed from his peers, this obstacle ultimately elevated his Year 12 experience.

Ruby Pearce, Cabra College

Ruby was dux with an ATAR of 99.5 and was one of two college mission captain, the primary role of which is to advocate for the Dominican faith and values within the college. She was also a leader of the Green Team and the working party for the Reconciliation Action Plan. (RAP).  She aims to enter medicine and she focused on gender inequity in the medical field for her Activating Identities and Futures (AIF) subject. Ruby also works tirelessly within the greater community to fundraise for charity and those in need and also supports and mentors young burns and trauma survivors at the KIDS Foundation.

Ruby said she is looking forward to taking a gap year to travel with the aim of sitting the UCAT and enrolling in medicine.

Aleah Poole

Aleah Poole, St Columba College

Aleah represented the state in gymnastics at the national gymnastics’ championships in 2023. She has created a range of educational multimedia resources including videos, Instagram posts, TikTok posts, PowerPoint lessons, and interactive quizzes around bullying for middle school students. Aleah has been heavily involved in NAIDOC and Harmony weeks and is a role model for Aboriginal students at the school, which is testament to her ability to inspire others and promote academic excellence. She is the first Indigenous student to be dux of St Columba.

Hayley Wilkinson, Thomas More College

Hayley was college captain and dux in 2023. She participated in the National ABC Titration competition and the International Chemistry Quiz. She organised a teacher talent show and always included special education students in group projects to ensure their voices were heard and they participated in various activities. She often coached junior volleyball and taught choreography to younger and older members of her local dance studio and has volunteered at the Vinnie’s Women’s Shelter to decorate and remodel a children’s play space. Hayley plans to study laboratory medicine while continuing her dancing and teaching.

Tigerlily Santry

Tigerlily Santry, Sacred Heart College

Tigerlily aspires to enter the field of mechanical engineering after school. She has a passion for linguistics and communication, as is evidenced in her A+ for Japanese. Through her research of the Japanese language, and the way it has impacted the rapidly changing Japanese society, Tigerlily was able to make connections to her own Aboriginal culture and the significant relationship that exists between languages and ongoing cultural identity. Tigerlily was the only successful applicant at Sacred Heart for a Headstart Scholarship at the University of Adelaide in 2023. In addition to the two high distinctions she achieved for her university subjects, she achieved an ATAR of 99.55.

India Bament-Sitkowski, St Aloysius College

(Aboriginal Student SACE Excellence Award)

An active member of her school’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee for the past three years, India also led a group of staff and students on a walk to mark the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations and participated in the Thriving People initiative. As part of her Outdoor Education studies, India participated in a camp on the land of her ancestors – Narungga Land – and has been learning the Kaurna language over the past two years. In addition to her SACE studies, India works part-time in hospitality where she trains and inducts new staff. She is also a talented netballer and represents her local team.

India said she aimed to excel in her Human Movement course at the University of South Australia while continuing to be an Aboriginal role model at St Aloysius as a student support leader.

“As a student with dyslexia, at this high level of education I found that I had to dedicate more time and effort into my studies than most other students to succeed,” she said.

“As much as I put in time and effort, an important factor to my success was having a strong support group around me consisting of my family, friends and teachers who allowed me to maintain a balanced life which is extremely important in year 12.”

Lachlan Tripodi, Rostrevor College

In the after school ‘Homework Club’, Lachlan mentored students from Years 6 to 12 in a wide range of subjects. He designed and ran his school’s Blue Week, which helps raise awareness of men’s mental health, including depression and anxiety, through activities that help create positive change in how students approach mental health, encouraging them to check in with others and reducing the stigma attached to asking for help.

He has volunteered for a range of initiatives including SA School Sport Disability Soccer World Cup days, the Loreto Pink Day assembly, and Vinnie’s Men’s Crisis Centre Morning and lunch BBQs. He plans to study project management while working part-time and playing football for Rostrevor Old Collegians. Lachlan said being head prefect added to his workload in Year 12, along with his work and coaching commitments. However, he achieved an outstanding ATAR of 99.65.

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