Awards of Excellence

Students of Port Macquarie and Westport campuses of Hastings Secondary College were recognised for their ongoing commitment and pursuit of excellence, innovation, opportunity and success at the inaugural Awards of Excellence evening on Tuesday 12 February.

The evening celebrated those students who we already know are phenomenal in their chosen fields of excellence and deserve to be acknowledged. in a more public forum for others to share in their achievements

The College’s Executive Principal Willem Holvast said the celebration of excellence recognised how successful combining the formerly separate schools has been.

Some 100 students received awards, including the dux of each year, Principal awards, and individual awards for sport, leadership, national and international recognition, and commitment and service to the community. This year community and teaching excellence awards were also presented.

Last year the College spoke of phase one of the plan, phase two is now about building the village. 

The College Plan from 2018 to 2020 sums up our commitment and collective determination to grow our educational village, the village that it takes to raise our children in Port Macquarie.

Our village is characterised by inspired growth.

Inspired growth where every student is known and valued.

Inspired growth in teachers, who collaboratively and collegially build the village in their classrooms, in their staffrooms, and across our campuses.

Inspired growth where parents actively engage with teaching and support staff in conversations that are important for the development, learning and wellbeing of their children.

Inspired growth where the partnerships between the College and the Hastings Valley Community of Schools, community groups and businesses are essential to the growth not only of our College, but also public education in our area. We are particularly pleased about our new partnership with PCYC and what this will mean in terms of opportunities for our community. I thank Lesley Williams for her ongoing support for our College and Community of Schools.  

So, what are we building?

1. You may be relieved to hear that Hastings Secondary College is completely focussed on learning. This, after all, is our core business.  A tide of change is sweeping through the College as learning shifts from being a passive activity to an active, research-based activity, offering students choice and opportunities for real-life learning. With learning under the microscope, new ways of assessing students are being developed that cover a range of subject areas and learning experiences in single, rich assessments. At the College, our LEAP and Zenith classes, along with the STEM, Creative Industries and Sports academies are prominent examples of this.

2. Our teachers are working smarter, not harder, to ensure growth for every student. Across the College, our teachers meet regularly to collegially plan, devise and implement innovative programs in their faculties, across faculties and between our campuses. This continues to feature as one of our major strengths as a College.
3. All teachers can make a difference for our students as instructional leaders, not only in their subject areas but also through developing a college culture of effective, evidence-based teaching practice that ensures growth in learning for all students. All great teachers are learners, too. 

The measure of our success as a College is the success of every one of our students, whether they excel academically, or through leadership opportunities or school service, or are a member of the highly successful Hastings Secondary College Clontarf Academy, the College Robotics Team, a music or dance ensemble, a sporting team, or have found a new passion for learning as a member of the Zenith program, the LEAP academy or one of our academies for STEM, Sport and Creative Industries.

Guests heard from Westport Campus Alumni Lucy Blackam. Lucy graduated in the year 12 class of 2010 with a great year of around 90 other students. Many of her year continued on to become teachers, software engineers, mechanics, chefs, work in business and administration. 

Lucy Blackham's inspirational speech to our community at the Awards of Excellence

As a student, I didn’t know what I wanted to become until later in my schooling life. It was only in Years 11 and 12 that I realised I had a passion and interest in the human experience; I discovered this through my involvement in WASCALS where I was often a part of the executive committee. This was my real first experience of volunteering and getting involved in a community that cares for the wellbeing of others, along with the bonus of being able to do it all with a group of high school friends.

The most rewarding and inspiring aspects of school that I felt have helped me into university, and my later career, was the many and diverse friends I had, as well as some really inspiring and understanding teachers that I had at Westport. They both saw me at my worst and best and still encouraged and supported me. When my year moved into Years 11 and 12 a real sense of comraderie instilled in the year, and this saw many of the friend groups grow together to support each other to finish year 12.

I remember one of my friends, Phil, asking Ms Climpson why someone like me would have chosen to do all humanities subjects in Years 11and12. Ms Climpson replied, “because she cares for the human experience and is interested in the qualities of being human”. Only a few years later when I was working in my job as a consultant archaeologist did I really understand how well at the time Ms Climpson understood where I was trying to go in my life.

I finished Year 12 with an ATAR of 68 even though I worked incredibly hard and often ranked highly in my courses, I did not see this coming, and it was undoubtedly a hard result for me and indeed a blow to a lot of my plans. However, this result did not end up deterring me from wanting to become - an archaeologist. To achieve my goals, I ended up deciding to do a year of Bachelor of Arts at the University of Canberra which then enabled me to gain entry into a Bachelor of Archaeological Practice at the Australian National University.

My previous experience at secondary school with volunteering and community involvement was a significant advantage for me in the degrees that I would choose. The confidence I gained from being in WASCALS and involved in other leadership opportunities at Westport meant that I was a part of the ANU’s first Archaeology Student Society. This later continued into me becoming an avid member of the Canberra Archaeological Society which I ran for three years and helped organise and implement a community archaeological excavation of Springbank Island in Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

I would later finish my Masters of Archaeological Sciences as well to enable me to become a qualified archaeological consultant in Canberra and across NSW.

I feel like a student I was never much different from any other student at Westport Campus – I worked just as hard as many of my friends did. I think that is one of the main lessons I learnt on my journey from high school to my career. Often in high school, I would worry that because I wasn’t the best at sport, the smartest person in the year, or the school captain that I could not be able to achieve anything as high as those people who were in those positions would. But now I realise that the community, experiences, failures, triumphs and friendships I made at Westport enabled me to thrive and survive to move 8 hours away from home and finishing my university degrees.

Now after working as an archaeological consultant for three years and surveying and excavating all across NSW, I have settled into being a Senior Policy Officer at the Office of Environment and Heritage working for the government on the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reforms.

Due to everything I learnt and experienced at Hastings Secondary College I am now able to have an amazing career working with various Aboriginal communities and learning about the incredible connection to the country that these communities have and the multifaceted cultures that exist throughout NSW  that have existed for more than 60,000 years.

To finish, my last piece of advice would be to enjoy secondary school but always look towards the future – often you hear people say high school was the best time of their lives. For me, secondary school was a fun, exciting and stressful time but moving onto university and having a career and a choice to focus on your passion really makes me think that the best time of your lives is always in the present and what is ahead of you. Don’t be afraid of change and enjoy the challenge of something new.