Equestrian Excellence – TACAPS
When TACAPS student Tara Wilkinson is not studying, she is competing at local and national levels in equestrian events with her two horses, All Energy and Lissadell Satin.
Last year (2015) was a big year for Tara Wilkinson, competing at a number of events. She placed fourth at the Darling Downs Interschool Championships, was awarded Champion in Eventing at the State Championships, placed seventh at the National Championships in eventing and placed fourth at the Australian Youth Show Jumping Championships.
Although Tara has been riding her whole life, she has only been competing for five years and admits that she still gets nervous before a competition. However, it is clear she is passionate about the sport. “What I love the most about competing in equestrian is the fact that I have many friends that compete as well,” she says. “I also love being able to represent my school in a sport that I love and feel passionate about … My favourite event is definitely eventing, because it incorporates dressage, showjumping and cross country, and I enjoy all three of them.”
At school, Tara’s favourite subject is English. “I love English because it has so much to do with everything that we learn; it is incorporated into almost every subject,” she says.
Tara is also involved in a plethora of extracurricular activities including singing in the College Chapel Choir, competing in the eisteddford and playing in the TACAPS basketball team. Proving a sporting star, Tara has also competed in athletics and swimming at the Darling Downs level.
“I haven’t yet decided what I would like to do after school; at the moment I am just trying to do my best in everything so that I have plenty of opportunities when I graduate.”
Music Star – Toowoomba Grammar School
Toowoomba Grammar School year 12 student Mason Watts is a leader in music.
Mason Watts is currently studying English, music, music extension, art, drama, and philosophy and reason. With Mason’s undisputed talent and passion for music there is little surprise that he intends to pursue a career in this field once he has finished school.
Mason’s musical ability was recognised in his earlier years when he won the ‘Best of the Buskers’ Award at the Tamworth Music Festival in 2012. Since then, Mason has been extremely busy with singing, songwriting and recording music. Much of this has been in a voluntary capacity for community service, including providing musical entertainment for Relay For Life, Toowoomba Says No To Violence, and Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers, as well as for a cancer charity fundraiser, and at the Metro Care Church.
Mason is the leader of the school’s RnB band and vocal ensemble, the Grammarphones, and is also part of a combined vocal ensemble with Toowoomba Grammar School and The Glennie School. Under his leadership, the Grammarphones have been recognised nationally for their talent, recently taking out second place at national singing competition, the AusAca Awards.
Mason has received all of his vocal and guitar tuition at the school for the past five years. Apart from singing and songwriting, Mason enjoys playing basketball for the school and has also been a lead performer on multiple occasions in Toowoomba Grammar School’s musical and dramatic productions.
Toowoomba Grammar School looks forward to seeing Mason’s development in music over future years.
Gifted Junior – The Glennie School
When opportunity knocks, Ruby Heffernan willingly answers.
Ruby’s eagerness to learn and subsequent academic achievements have seen her accelerate as one of the youngest Year 6 girls in Junior Years at Glennie. Her favourite subjects are English, maths, science, music and French. She is a talented cello player, is an avid reader, a budding writer and loves the challenge of solving maths and science problems.
Ruby has developed an interest in reading war and indigenous history and human rights issues. “Real life events and issues are interesting,” says Ruby. “They encourage you to keep reading and learn more.” Her love of reading has become a gift for writing. Ruby recently won the Bloomsbury Publishing Fuzzy Mud Short Story competition with her entry, A Little Mud Never Hurt Anyone, Did it?
The talented Year 6 student also displays a natural love for maths and science. She is thriving in the IdeasPlus program which stimulates the minds of gifted girls in Junior Years. Through the program, Ruby accompanied four team members to the state forum and challenge of OptiMINDS where they performed amongst a number of teams. It was a huge achievement and opportunity for the girls.
Ruby is a Junior Years leader for 2016 and excited about the year ahead. She is looking forward to auditioning for a vocal or acting role in the school musical and the opportunity to try debating. Ruby’s academic aptitude at such a young age will pave the way to a successful career; at present Ruby aspires to become a paediatric occupational therapist.
Cultural Leader – Downlands College
Since relocating from the Gold Coast a little over a year ago, talented singer Jeremy Beamish is preparing for a busy senior year at Downlands College.
Jeremy Beamish is completing Year 12 at Downlands where he is a Cultural Captain and will play a lead role in the 2016 College musical. Impressed by the strong arts program and inclusive, welcoming attitude of College staff and students, the decision for Jeremy to move to Downlands was an easy one.
Jeremy is particularly excited about being awarded the role of Jean Valjean in the upcoming College Musical Les Misérables. “To be cast as the lead in Les Misérables is a huge compliment,” he said. “There are so many really talented singers and performers at Downlands, so it’s quite an honour to be given such an integral role like Jean Valjean.”
Musical Director and Curriculum Leader for the Arts, Mr Shane Tooley believes that Jeremy will also excel in his role as one of the two College Cultural Captains. “Jeremy has a unique combination of innate musical talent and humility which will allow him to lead by example, while building a strong student community.”
While making the most of the opportunities presented at school, Jeremy and his brother, Ben, also write and perform their own songs as The Beamish Boys. They have already enjoyed success, having written a song for the 2018 Commonwealth Games sizzler reel; featuring on the television program Sunrise; and founding their own company, Next Generation Music. As for Jeremy, he already has his future mapped out, “I would love to be a professional singer. I love performing and writing songs, so I hope one day to tour the world doing what I love.”
Secret Chord – Fairholme College
Year 12 senior leader, Jemma Telleman has enjoyed a dynamic five years at Fairholme College, collecting a plethora of musical achievements along the way.
In 2015 alone, Jemma was the recipient of the Lindsay Statham Memorial Scholarship, won the Championship Award for her category at the Toowoomba Eisteddfod, obtained a perfect score for her performance with the Fairholme College Chamber Strings ensemble was the winner in her age group in the Queensland Harp Society’s Una Morgan Competition.
Jemma accredits her success to support from her family and peers as well as lots and lots of practice. She always remembered a quote her music teacher once told her. “If you practise something slowly, you forget it slowly. If you practise something fast, you forget it fast.”
Jemma says, “I feel that this morsel of advice could be taken and used in whatever aspect of life that needs it. Whether it be working, slowly and methodically, through the never-ending Math B problems or that English essay … We give ourselves the time to appreciate how far we have come and arrive at a better understanding of what we are working on.”
Jemma hopes to continue playing around Toowoomba to help further its residents’ awareness of the harp. Jemma also plans to continue her own learning with a dual degree of Music and Psychology at University.
Formula One Future – Concordian Lutheran College
Concordia Lutheran College Year 11 student Matthew Cramb acknowledges his time at Concordia as a pivotal part of his teenage life.
“I remember the Open Day, walking into the Technology Department and seeing all the equipment and tools that the College had to offer,” said Matthew. “It was then that I decided I wanted to participate in the F1 in Schools competition.”
Concordia is the only school in Toowoomba that hosts the challenge, and it’s one of the reasons Matthew chose this College over other schools. “The ability to design and make my own miniature balsa wood car, then compete with it in a team on a global scale is something incredible for a 12-year old. Even now, I’m constantly surprised at just how much the competition allows you to do,” says Matthew.
Matthew’s team, ThoughtSpeed, has twice won the state finals, and this year they will head to Sydney for the Australia-wide finals. Beyond that, ThoughtSpeed are eyeing off the World Competition.
Learning about aerodynamics, friction, science and so many other fields of interest has inspired Matthew to become a high school science teacher. “I’ve been able to talk to V8 engineering teams, helicopter engineers and people involved in a myriad of industries.
Matthew says, “If you can put your mind to it, and you have the support you need, you can do anything.”
Budding Linguist – St Usula’s College
Year 11 St Ursula’s College student Michaela Waite ended the 2015 school year on a high after attending the ICAS (International Competitions and Assessments for Schools) medal presentation and being awarded first place in Queensland in the English competition.
College Principal Mrs Ann Marie Pawsey says, “It was an honour to attend the presentation with Michaela and see her achievement acknowledged.”
Michaela says she was equally honoured to receive the news and completely surprised at winning first place in the state. “I never expected to achieve anything like that. However I’m ecstatic and so proud to receive the award in front of my parents and our College Principal Mrs Pawsey.”
With a passion for all languages, Michaela particularly loves the complexity of the English language. “It is such a rich and complex language — and it gives you the key to most of the languages on earth,” Michaela says.
Showing commitment in all her studies, Michaela has selected a challenging mix of subjects for her senior years including English, maths B, biology, both ancient and modern history as well as Japanese. With many goals and dreams for the future, Michaela would like to join the Australian Federal Police — a long held dream for the ambitious student.
Music Program – Dalby State School
The hills might be alive with the sound of music, but at Dalby State School, the rich music program on offer to every student has them singing in the hallways!
Dalby State School has recently been accredited as a School of Excellence in Music for its extensive music program. The school’s incredibly rich program includes weekly music for every student, a concert band, stage band, instrumental music program, junior and senior choirs, a biennial musical production (Annie in 2015) and participation in Wakakiri and Creative Generation — State Schools Onstage competitions.
The recognition of Dalby State School’s music prowess reflects the talented music staff including Mr Ben McPherson, Miss Katie Commens, Mrs Rachael Summerville and a host of other staff who regularly get involved. Mr McPherson leads the charge and was recently awarded an Exceptional Service Award by the Dalby Chamber of Commerce for commitment and service to Dalby State School and the wider community.
“I think that I’ve got the best job in the world,” said Mr McPherson. “I get to produce music with every student every day and see students begin a love of learning music. Now that Dalby State School is a School of Excellence for Music, we can ensure every student has music each week, we can take our music beyond the Dalby region, and we can extend our talented musicians. In all honesty, this has been happening at Dalby State School for a long time!”