Freeman students recognised with Premier’s awards

Courage in the family: (from left) Luke, Robert, Gabriel, Marica and Daniel Petrinich with NSW Premier Mike Baird (centre) after receiveing Premiers awards for courage and inspiration. Photo: Kitty Beale

Courage in the family: (from left) Luke, Robert, Gabriel, Marica and Daniel Petrinich with NSW Premier Mike Baird (centre) after receiveing Premiers awards for courage and inspiration. Photo: Kitty Beale

Freeman Catholic College students applauded when NSW Premier Mike Baird recognised the courage of their peers at a special assembly.

Mr Baird visited the Bonnyrigg Heights school on June 9 to present brothers Luke and Daniel Petrinich with Premier’s Awards for Courage and Inspiration and praised their resilience following a car accident in 2010. Their younger brother Sam, then in Kindergarten at St John the Baptist Catholic Primary, died after the crash that also left Daniel, now in Year 10, in a coma for 11 days.

Joshua Smolinski and Jayden Hewett were also recognised at the ceremony. Both lost their fathers within months of the Petrinich’s accident.

Mr Baird said Luke and Daniel had shown courage in the face of adversity and were an inspiration to others. “They’ve encouraged so many people to understand that when difficult things happen, you can keep going and you can achieve your dreams in spite of the difficulties you face,” he said.

Parents Marica and Robert said they were extremely proud to see their sons and their friends (Jayden and Daniel are best mates) receive the awards. Marica said the school community had banded together to comfort and support them after the loss.

“I think it’s a wonderful way of recognising ordinary people who have extraordinary circumstance inflicted on them,” she said. “We’re immensely proud of the way Daniel moved forward.  He has hemiplegia, but he’s here and walking and talking and he doesn’t even have a curriculum adjustment.  He came so close to losing his life as well and the way he has recovered is really remarkable.”

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