MEET THE CAPTAINS: St Teresa's Catholic College Year 12 school leaders for 2020, Mikael Pitot and Harriet Smith. Photo: Caitlin Zerafa
MEET THE CAPTAINS: St Teresa's Catholic College Year 12 school leaders for 2020, Mikael Pitot and Harriet Smith. Photo: Caitlin Zerafa

How school is preparing teens for the ‘real world’

THEY are the future of our world but right now their focus is on making it through the biggest time of their schooling life: Year 12.

Noosa News is meeting the captains from local high schools for an informal conversation about the year ahead and their thoughts on the world.

This year’s seniors were the first cohort to transition in to high school in Year 7 and will be the first to be examined under the new ATAR system which has been introduced to replace the previous OP system.

Today we spoke with St Teresa’s Catholic College captains Mikael Pitot and Harriet Smith.

How long have you both been at the school?

Mikael: We were actually the first grade 7s through so it was a bit of a different experience but it was a lot of fun at the same time because we got to discover how it all worked and kind of got to be the first.

Harriet: Grade 7, it was nice too because we got to go in will all our Grade 8-er friends. I was really close with all those people, I went to quite a small primary school so it was nice to have two social networks. It was nice to feel special, I think we got looked after quite well.

What are you most looking forward to for Year 12?

Mikael: I love the idea that we as Year 12’s get to shape the school and maybe change it up a little bit. There is something special about Grade 12 because you get to the point where you’re that bit older and the teachers are your friends and you’ve got a good relationship with them so you can sort of shape the school the way you like it.

Harriet: I think I’m most looking forward to working with all my friends and my family that I have here. It’s pretty special to be at that stage where you can be adults among your friends and be friends with your teachers as well. It’s just really nice to experience that closeness and influence the culture of a whole school through that.

What are your academic interests?

Mikael: At the moment I’m going more down the design pathway. Since I was a little kid I wanted to go down architecture way. There’s not many prerequisites for that so I've got a bit of freedom. I'm doing math methods, which I really enjoy and I've got a design subject I do.

Harriet: I’m doing quite a few creative subjects. I’m doing the new English literature, which is really good, drama, film, English, maths, religion; I’m really enjoying it though.

What are your plans after school?

Mikael: I’m thinking at QUT there’s an architecture course there. It’s quite practical and it looks like a lot of fun. I saw a seminar on it and it kind of clicked.

Harriet: Everyone’s life purpose is to find what they want to do. I know what I like at the moment but I’m not really sure where that's going to take me in the future. At the moment I really enjoy soft skills so maybe something in HR when I’m older. I also love acting and drama so I'll probably audition for some schools in a couple of years when I feel I’m ready for that. I want to have a break though when I graduate and go and learn a different language and experience a different culture and get a different feel on the world, that's kind of my priority. My brother, and my dad actually, did a rotary exchange after school, so they go to a different country for a year and get cared for by families. It’s going in as an ambassador and a lot of the time you can’t speak their language so you have to learn it. I’m hoping to go to Sweden. I’m in the middle of my application.

St Teresa’s do a vertical system for your morning home group, how do you think that has improved students connection within the school?

Mikael: It is fantastic! We’ve had the new Year 7s come in now and I've got a few there, they always sit next to me in class, and we always have a chat about their day and they ask me any questions and if I see them walking around and they’re lost they come and ask me any questions. I think it’s a great feeling that you get to a point where they are comfortable talking to you. I know when I came to Grade 7, it’s always a bit scary with the Grade 12s, they look so much taller than you are but it’s nice to have that relationship builder in the morning.

Harriet: I love it, it’s so nice. I feel like it’s quite special to see the older kids almost parenting the younger kids. It’s your own little pocket, you can create family. It’s good to actually know their name and have that knowledge about that person. It’s just a little bit more than just saying hi and smiling.

Do you have a quirky before or after school routine that you just can’t get through your day without?

Mikael: I’m very structured. I like having an agenda for everything I’m going to do. In the morning I do the exact same thing; I get up, I have a shower and go upstairs and greet my family and it’s a bit weird if someone in the family is away that day because it’s a whole different dynamic for the day.

Harriet: I have a certain cup that my dad makes me a cup of tea in every morning and I go and drink it and I’ve got this mirror that has this inspirational quote on it and I’ll do my hair in front of my mirror sipping my tea. For me it’s such a grounding thing to do. I sometimes do yoga as well, which really helps. I think if you’re in your mind and have time to collect yourself you can spend you day being more thoughtful.

I understand you are heading off on an immersion trip to an indigenous community this year. How important do you think it is to have a deeper knowledge of our country?

Mikael: We are going to the Tiwi Islands up near Darwin and it’s really exciting because we get to immerse ourselves in the cultures that are in Australia. We’ll gain a lot out of it, a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge about the country we live in.

Harriet: It feels good going to an Australian place because I feel I lack knowledge in the areas about the cultures surrounding the Tiwi people, so I think it will be nice to learn and immerse myself in a completely different culture that’s in the same country as me.

You are the first year level to go through the new ATAR system in Queensland. What are you thoughts on ATAR vs. OP?

Mikael: I love how it focuses on you as an independent learner. I most enjoy school when I'm challenged in it. So if I feel like as an individual I can go and get a problem and I’m not going to go and solve it at the drop of a hat, and it’s one that takes me time and effort, I think there’s more satisfaction that comes out of it. I think the challenge is a good way to test you for the future and gives you a good indication how you are doing and what you can do. It’s always a bit nerve-racking going into an exam thinking it’s so much but I think if you think of it in the mindset of you do your best up to that point and you just keep going, and I think if you do the best you can, you can get to where you need to be.

Harriet: I like how our own work is what is tested and we’re not put in a rank for how the school performs. I think it’s new and a bit scary but ultimately I think it will serve us more as learners and it makes us more independent in our learning because it’s kind of up to you and if you don’t do it properly. It think it is more training us for the real world because that’s more how it actually is in the real world.

Do you feel school has prepared you enough for the future, the big world out there?

Mikael: It is difficult because it’s hard to know if you’re ready or not but I think at school there are a lot of things that prepare you for that and they try and ground you in the real world and try and set those expectations with you, which is fantastic. Things like work experience, it shows you where you can be in the future and it kind of gives you and idea so it’s not as scary as it would be without that.

Harriet: I feel like I’ve always wanted to go into the real world. I’ve always felt kind of ready which probably means I’m not ready! We’re really lucky in our culture because a lot of us have part time jobs. In a sense we kind of get to construct what it might be like for us.

Our next Q&A will feature Sunshine Beach State High School’s captains.

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