The third largest group of Duke of Edinburgh Award achievers in Australia, St Patrick’s College Sutherland, has congratulated yet another group of over 100 students – and the achievers list will grow next year.
“We have a high support from staff, so much so that we have staff on a reserve list to help out on the Adventure Journeys next year,” said Lou Pagano, St Patrick’s College Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator.
The extraordinarily large number of students who complete the awards was acknowledged last year when Mr Pagano was invited to meet Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, during a royal visit to Australia.
“The program’s been at the school for 13 years, now our intake is 1/3 of the cohort for Year 9,” said Mr Pagano
Four senior students recently spent time in Timor Leste assisting in schools, a small group of others have worked at an Edmund Rice Camp for disadvantaged youth, teaching children skills and sports.
“The success of the program at our school is due to the relationships between staff and students willing to go above and beyond – there’s lot of goodwill,” said Principal Elizabeth Denny.
“There’s also a high correlation between the number of students in the program, and the school’s leadership team,” she added.
Ms Denny said she believed a reason for the success of the awards program at the school was due to it’s proximity to the National Park.
“It really fits with the lifestyle of the students in the Shire – we’re close to the outdoors, they have a love of the beach and an opportunity to practise Gospel values of stewardship of the environment,” said Ms Denny.
Duke of Edinburgh Awards are a youth development program for all aged between age 14 and 25. It was established 53 years ago in Australia, operates in over 143 countries and is the largest of its kind in the world.
Ms Denny said the program also helped increase the students’ resilience and understanding of social justice teachings.
“We have a focus on ‘the other’ at our school – this program helps them to understand the real world,” she said.
Gold award recipient and Social Justice Captain for 2016, Alice Shirley, said the best thing about the Duke of Edinburgh awards was that it wasn’t something you do every day.
Lara Giles House Captain agreed: “It was good having such a great group of people around you,”
Earlier this year the Gold recipients climbed a 400-metre escarpment up Sublime Point on the South Coast and all agreed it involved huge effort and concerted teamwork to get to the top.
“The views were great,” said Lachlan Simmons, School Captain.
So far, eight million young people around the world have achieved bronze, silver or gold awards by learning a skill, improving their physical wellbeing and taking part in community service.
The aim of the awards is to enrich the personal and professional development of youth.
At St Patrick’s Sutherland, there’s been a doubling of Gold Awards from 17 in 2014 to 32 in 2015.
“It’s projected to increase to 40 in 2017,” said Mr Pagano.
He attributed the growth in interest in the wards to the arrival of an Assistant Duke of Edinburgh Awards Coordinator, Claude Vartanian.