The feeling of pride was evident among Indigenous Kepnock State High School students as they attended the Girls Academy Awards Night on Wednesday.
Girls Academy started at Kepnock State High at the beginning of 2018 with 52 girls and has grown in the past two years with 60 students now taking part in the program.
It aims to develop and empower Aboriginal girls through leadership training, mentoring, sport and extra-curricular programs.
Girls Academy program manager Belinda Devery said the awards evening was about recognising the efforts the Kepnock State School Indigenous girls had put in, and that included students who were doing well and those who had made changes in their behaviour and were now excelling.
“Although we are saying goodbye to our Year 12 students, tonight we also awarded the girls from other levels who are excelling at the areas we focus on – attendance, academic and sporting,” Belinda said.
“Knowing that we have only been involved with these girls for the last two year and seeing the improvements makes me very proud.
“Seeing where they were, evening with their attendance and their possibility of disengaging from school and not seeing it through to seeing them now stand up and being a few weeks away from graduating Year 12, and for some the first in their family to do so, it’s just such a proud moment.”
Outstanding Girls Academy achievers
Shining Bright Award for school attendance
- Junior award: Sharni Moran
- Senior award: Chloe Collier
Girls Academy Academic Awards
- Junior award: Holly Atkinson
- Senior award: Brooke Sutton
Sports women of the year award
- Kayla Disney
Academy ambassador of the year award
- Lilliarna Kerr
Most improved junior award
- Ellie Napier
Most improved senior award
- Eboni Barrett
Ricky Grace Overall Award
- Grace Eggmolesse
Girls Academy inspires Kepnock High School students
Year 12 student Holli O’Sullivan was one of the first girls to take part in the program and said it was a joyous moment knowing she had completed her schooling and said it was made possible because of the support given to her through the Girls Academy program.
“It was an amazing program and now that I’ve finished school, I want to become one of the Girls Academy role models here at Kepnock,” Holli said.
“Many girls wouldn’t have made it as far as they have without the program.”
Belinda said the Girls Academy was only going to keep growing as it was a vital service for teenage Indigenous girls and by it growing it would also benefit the community.
“The girls give back to the community through what we teach them, and the community will benefit from this in the long run,” Belinda said.
“The Girls Academy program is also at North Bundaberg State High School and Bundaberg State High School.
“I think this program is essential, I think most people realise that women are the backbone of the family in particular in Indigenous families.
The women have to take a lot of responsibilities and this program helps to build those women by giving them a place where they can go to feel safe while learning about culture and a lot of community programs because we like to get the girls involved.”
Kepnock State High School principal Nicholas Howkins said the Girls Academy Awards Night gave the young Indigenous girls a chance to recognise those who had finished Year 12 and graduated with great scores and a wonderful sense of achievement.
“We had Dr Jeannette Wimbus, who was also a student at our school, here as a speaker tonight and what I love about that is the girls get it see her and realise they can be like her and do lots of great things,” Mr Howkins said.
Mr Howkins said the program was doing great things for the Indigenous cohort and he was proud to see the girls showing initiative and thriving at school because of it.
- Earlier news: Kepnock student Hollie Cooper awarded scholarship