On Monday 28 October 2019, Unity College in Murray Bridge South Australia presented Year 12 students with a variety of awards and acknowledged their graduation during a valedictory service.
Among the graduating class of 2019 were four students from Areyonga (Utju) who have successfully completed their Year 12 studies. Congratulations to Christopher Doolan, Jimmy (Mick) Doolan, Claudia Coulthard and Selinda Hopkins on their excellent achievement.
Students were supported at the graduation event by several family members and other special guests who travelled from the Northern Territory to attend. Special guests included representatives from Areyonga School where these students attended primary education, including the principal Jonty Fernando and long-serving teacher Tarna Andrews.
A choir of six Areyonga women attending the service performed a Lutheran hymn in the Pitjantjatjara language as a blessing to all the graduating students.
In the last two years, a total of six students from Areyonga have successfully completed Year 12. Much of this success is due to the strong partnership and links between the Areyonga community and Unity College.
Andrew Lloyd from the Northern Territory Government Transition Unit says, ‘Access to secondary education for very remote Northern Territory Indigenous students is limited. Although many students attend distant boarding schools, very few stay to complete Year 12’.
‘Forming trusting relationships using new and effective communication methods between the two communities has created a binding connecting thread’, he says. ‘These links between home and school were essential for a positive boarding transition where the concept of a two-way sharing of knowledge allows for stronger school-to-community connections.’
In her address to the school community, Unity College principal Mrs Kaye Mathwin-Cox said, ‘We thank God for all of our students and the rich tapestry they create at Unity College’.
Speaking to the valedictorians, she said, ‘The end of this year marks the end of one of the most incredible journeys in your lives. While you might not fully understand or even believe the importance of the last 13 years of school, those with a little more experience may remember their own years and reflect on the highs, the lows, the fun times, and the challenging times. And it is these experiences that help to mould us all into who we are and who we become as active contributors in society’.