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    Resourceful: Horsham College Duke of Edinburgh participants, from left, Gemma Walker, Amelia Martin, Tenae Pitt, Tahlia Thompson and Amber Schellens. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Horsham College students think outside the box


Horsham College students are paving the way forward with an internationally recognised leadership program despite COVID-19-related restrictions. 

Students were encouraged to ‘think laterally’ when the coronavirus pandemic put an end to volunteering opportunities the college’s Duke of Edinburgh program is built on.  

Program co-ordinator Paul Denson said he was thrilled to see his students responding creatively to meet requirements.

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He said students volunteered to cook for Horsham Police, wrote letters to residents at Sunnyside Lutheran Retirement Village and sewed learning aids for the college’s ‘QuickSmart’ program.

Year-10 student Amber Schellens, working towards her silver award, started filming and editing weekly online coaching videos as part of her volunteering as a junior coach at Natimuk and District Gymnastic Club. 

Amber said the pandemic had encouraged her to learn an entirely new skill. 

“I learnt as I went. I filmed the videos and edited them on iMovie. It was fun filming,” she said. 

“I was coaching at the gym club – and training there. But when the pandemic shut down the gym, I started filming and doing it remotely.” 

Amber completed her bronze level award last year. 

She said the program was improving her confidence to work with others. 

“It seemed like a really fun thing to get involved with. I also like that you get to help people and learn new skills,” she said. 

“I definitely know how to put myself out into the community and help other people and work in a team.”

Amber plans to use her video-editing skills to help Mr Denson create a promotional video for the program’s annual excursion to Maria Island, Tasmania, for bronze students.  

Mr Denson said students were showing signs of great leadership throughout the pandemic.  

“We are aware it’s a difficult period, but we can’t lose sight, because we will overcome it,” he said.

“There are people doing great things. We hear of businesses being innovative during this time – that same sort of mentality is important within a school system as well. 

“We had some really classic examples of kids taking on that challenge.”

Mr Denson said skills students obtained from the program would carry on through the rest of their lives. 

“From my perspective, observing the change in confidence, ability, self-awareness, self-esteem, leadership – all those really tangible life skills – I see that spark ignite in the kids,” he said. 

“Universities are now starting to not just focus their energies on grades, they’re actually wanting to know more about the quality of the people they’re signing up.”

Mr Denson said interest in the program had grown significantly at the college in the past five years. 

“In 2015 we had two students complete the award, while last year there was 21,” he said. 

“This year we have 35 students on our books. The program has been growing at an incredible rate and the interest in our outdoor education program has also quadrupled. 

“We’re now looking at running a year-10 outdoor education subject next year just to cater for the growth in interest.”

Mr Denson said students who participated in the program were likely to be positive role models for younger students. 

“Part of my philosophy is using our students as role models for other students,” he said. “We learn by observing others. If we’ve got other people working well, that inspires others. 

“That’s another key message I promote with students, that their learning isn’t just about themselves.” 

The entire July 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire July 29, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!