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The future might be a long way away, but the journey has started

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

"The future might be a long way away, but the journey has started” imparted Jim Taggart, OAM.

These were just some of the inspirational words spoken at the Gateway Community High end of year celebration, where School awards were presented, and twenty Year 10 graduating students were congratulated for achieving their ROSA.

Guest speakers included Dr Jim Taggart OAM and Mark Morrison OAM. Mark is well known for his role as Principal of the Macleay Vocational College, a school with a similar ethos to Gateway Community High. Mark encouraged the students to embrace their differences and find strength in them, to find their passionate moment and pass it on to someone else. “Take your strengths to the world and let it empower others” he enthused. What make these words so powerful is that Mark is, as he describes himself, “one of those young people like you”. That is, young people who thrive outside mainstream education.

Mark grew up in Nauru, which operates a very different school structure, where children go to school when they are ready and when they wished. “If you were bored at school you just went out for a walk and came back and that was OK…Learning was around you and when you were ready” he recalled. Coming to Australia he was clearly outside of his comfort zone. He congratulated the students for taking the step to come to Gateway Community High “…to step out of your comfort zone…. where the mainstream exists, that’s really difficult and takes a leap of faith”.

It was clear that the School’s belief that all students can belong, can achieve and can grow was on full display, with a range of awards gladly received by Year 9 and year 10 students for effort, improvement, commitment, citizenship and sport. Two students also received an Australian Defence Force Long Tan Award for Leadership.

The event featured outstanding performances by Alicia, Mars and Klarissa and a highlight was the presentation of Year 10 graduation certificates – which were proudly accepted by students in the presence of their understandably proudly emotional families.

Ruby, who has formed a special relationship with Aboriginal Elder Theresa Ardler commented in her speech that “without Gateway Community High she would not have been able to complete Year 10. It was the sense of community and the special bonds formed between the students, staff and teachers at Gateway that made the difference” for her.

Why is Gateway Community High different to a “mainstream” school?

The Principal’s address spoke to the meaning of community. “Community is about a circle of support around each student. Within our community every student matters. Every student is different. Every student belongs. We hope for every student to grow. We learn together. “

Where mainstream models of education fail some students, Gateway Community High succeeds. “We believe that every young person should have equitable access to a quality education, and that we can reduce barriers together. We believe in working with students who have missed out, who have been confused in contemporary schools, who don’t fit the norm, who have health barriers, or who just get lost in the mechanical process of being part of a big institution and all its banal expectations”.

We are driven by our values because, if we get this right, learning will flow. If students respect each other, the framework for learning starts, and the network for belonging is there. Students grow and are empowered to achieve.

Our relationship with families is highly important to help students grow. We work in partnership to help our students navigate their obstacles, and walk through all challenges, and even see challenges as opportunities. By the time students finish at Gateway Community High, our aim is that they have grown not just academically, but socially and emotionally to navigate the complex challenges in this ever-changing world.

We are growing our community with all who share and believe in our approach. Our approach may be different, but one thing is certain - we believe in planting the seed of hope in every student who walks through the Gateway Community High doors. We hope that students can accept this hope, to see this jewel within them, and through our inclusive community, they will be able to propel themselves to the next step in their lives. We hope that this will be lifelong and celebrated by our community.

We invite you to join with us on this journey to support our young people.

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