Ku-ring-gai Electorate Annual School Presentation Days

17 February 2021

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (18:43): Each year I look forward to celebrating the achievements of our young people at our local school end‑of‑year presentation days and award nights. The COVID‑19 pandemic required our schools and students to adapt overnight to restrictions and to shift from the classroom to online learning. In November it was a cause for celebration when it was announced that parents and carers were permitted onto school grounds in a COVID‑safe way to take part in their child's end‑of‑year presentation days. Although some of our local schools opted to have their ceremonies without parents and community members present, in December I was able to attend 15 presentation days across Ku-ring-gai. It was fantastic to be present for the recognition of our local students from Beaumont Road, Gordon West, Killara, Pymble, Warrawee, Waitara, Wahroonga, and West Pymble public schools, as well as St Leo's Catholic College, Barker College, Knox Grammar School, Pymble Ladies' College and Ravenswood School for Girls.

I was honoured to present a number of awards to students who had distinguished themselves in academic, sport, performing arts and citizenship pursuits. I also had the privilege of witnessing some outstanding musical performances, both live and pre-recorded. From the musical items at Barker College, singing and dancing at Killara Public School, a brilliant violinist at Waitara Public School and school orchestras at many schools, all performances were magnificent. Not only were the students delighted to be back on the stage again, but we were all reminded of the joy of live music. Following the award proceedings the students at Beaumont Road, Killara Public, Knox Grammar Prep and Warrawee Public officially inducted their year 6 2021 school leaders. I congratulate all students who received a leadership position. I am sure that you will return the trust that your school community has placed in you.

I was amazed by the diligence and flexibility that the schools showed in managing the pandemic. It was a year we did not expect. I thank the many proud parents and families who attended either in person or zoomed in from home, work and even around the world to take part in the events. For our schools to be able to hold these end‑of‑year presentation days was a reminder that we have managed a level of normality that few communities around the world have achieved. It was an uplifting three weeks attending these assemblies, and I encourage all students to continue to learn and develop their individual talents. Whether you received an award or not, if you did your best that is all anyone can ask. I thank each school for their annual invitations and I congratulate all award recipients.

Like many of us in this place, we were not able to visit our schools regularly last year, so I look forward to visiting our local schools in the months ahead. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the year 12 cohort of 2020, who displayed a tremendous sense of unity, resilience and perseverance last year. Ku‑ring‑gai has the highest enrolment in New South Wales of students who sit the HSC. Despite the hurdles of 2020, to see our students come out with the results they worked so hard for was incredible. They performed on par with what we would expect in a normal year.

At the end of last year I had the great privilege of hosting a lunch at Parliament House for the Ku‑ring‑gai year 12 school captains of 2020. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their views on the pandemic. As always they had plenty of interesting questions and ideas for me to consider. It was a very enjoyable day and I was impressed by the young leaders, who are without doubt ready for their next challenge. Congratulations are also in order for the seven Ku‑ring‑gai students who received a State first in course achievement in the 2020 HSC: Declan Zammit from Barker College, Allison Lee and Serena Catherine Pek from Hornsby Girls High School, Jason Zhihao Lin from Knox Grammar School, Sung-Jun Ki from Normanhurst Boys High School, as well as Sascha Duggan and Akina Li from Pymble Ladies' College. I wish the class of 2020 all the best for what is to come this year, whether they go on to study at university or TAFE, commence work or take a gap year.

Ku-ring-gai is home to some of the best comprehensive and selective public, independent and Roman Catholic schools in our country. It does not matter which school you go to, the goal is the same: A good education is one that prepares our young people to meet life's challenges. Thank you to our teachers, staff, volunteers, parents, carers, family members and friends who are the custodians of our youth and who went above and beyond in a challenging school year. To the students and teachers who courageously travelled through the trials and tribulations of 2020, it was truly a cheerful end to the year and I wish you all the best for 2021 and beyond.