With her inclusive nature and affinity for social justice, Rebekah El Khoury has left a quiet but distinct imprint on her community.
The Holy Spirit Catholic College Lakemba Year 12 student’s contribution to her school and the St Joseph’s Belmore parish was celebrated with an Archbishop of Sydney Award for Student Excellence on September 8.
The award acknowledges students’ achievements and contribution to school life in areas including leadership, academic and sporting life, social justice, parish life and faith, and community service.
Principal Phillip Scollard said Rebekah was an excellent role model at school.
“There’s something really lovely about that unassuming nature Rebekah has,” he said. “What is good about the awards process is that you don’t have to be the student who is always up at assembly and in the spotlight. With Rebekah there’s that getting along and doing good things without needing any fanfare.”
At school Rebekah has taken part in initiatives including Project Compassion, which raises funds for Australian aid organisation Caritas’ projects in developing nations, and the St Vincent de Paul Society’s winter appeal and night patrol.
She has also given time on Thursday afternoons to help run catechesis sessions for students in Kindergarten to Year 5 at Hampden Park Public School. Leading group activities at Year 7 and Year 8 reflection days at school has also been a good experience for the aspiring primary school teacher.
“Being in Year 7 you can feel a bit intimidated and surrounded by big kids. It’s better to approach them in a subtle way, so they know that you are there for them.”
“We focused on self-reflection and their wellbeing as whole, and the importance of belonging to a community and having people there to support you.”
“I was very shocked at first,” she said of the award. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it. I’m very happy.”
Julian Faransis, also in year 12 at Holy Spirit, read Rebekah’s citation at the ceremony and was part of the reflection days with her.
“We were once in Year 7 so we could really relate to the students on a more personal level than the teachers could, and Rebekah was really good at that,” he said. “She was very confident with them.
“Within our year I don’t think there’s a more gentle or kind person.
“If she sees something going on in the playground she will try to fix it. If someone is sitting on their own she’ll approach them. She’s the kind of person you can talk to and feel comfortable talking to.
“Within our school we have a lot of social justice programs and Rebekah is always one to put her hand up and help out with anything there is. That’s a very admirable quality of hers. She’s very humble.”