Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (19:08:26): As the member for Ku-ring-gai, one of my favourite times of the year is the period when I attend end-of-year school assemblies. Ku-ring-gai is home to some of the best comprehensive and selective public, independent and Catholic schools in Australia. As I have said in this place before, it does not matter what school you go to, the ultimate goal is the same. A good education is one that is geared towards preparing our young people to meet life challenges in whatever direction in life they choose. Last December I had the pleasure of participating in 18 end-of-year presentation days and award nights. It was truly an inspiring time to see our students showcase their talent and achievements in 2019. Across the electorate, each school had a fantastic year, particularly with our HSC students, with Hornsby Girls' High School, Normanhurst Boys High School, Abbotsleigh School and Knox Grammar School placing in the top 25 schools in the State.
In the first week of December I attended eight assemblies. Generally presentation days and speech days involve the giving of prizes and awards, but in that week I was struck by the quality of singing, dancing and musicianship from Wahroonga Prep, Ravenswood Junior, Knox Grammar Prep and Senior School, Pymble Ladies' College Senior, Barker College Junior School, Abbotsleigh Junior School and Wahroonga Adventist. From drum and pipe bands to Chamber orchestra, concert strings, solo performances and choirs, the talent was extraordinary. Abbotsleigh Junior School performedCome on, Let's Play, while the Knox Prep School performance ensemble and choir performedComing Home. The Ravenswood vocal ensemble performed a beautiful rendition ofWalking in the Air and Wahroonga Adventist danced in very colourful costumes to theHigh School Musical songWhat Time is it? to acknowledge in an entertaining way that school was out for the year. Parents, families and friends in attendance had every reason to smile in admiration as the performances we saw certainly set the tone for an up-tempo day.
The following week celebrations of learning took place at West Pymble Public School, Turramurra High School, Wahroonga Public School, Ku-ring-gai High School, Killara Public School, Waitara Public School and Gordon West Public School. I had the honour of hearing and seeing more musical performances at those assemblies, and presenting a number of awards to the students who had distinguished themselves in academics, sport, performing arts and citizenship pursuits. I congratulate the students at all the schools who received an award. Following the official prize giving ceremonies I witnessed the induction of the 2020 leaders of West Pymble, Wahroonga, Killara, Waitara and Gordon West public schools. Each school had its own tradition for the official handover from the outgoing leaders to the incoming ones, including captains, prefects and student representative council members. I congratulate all the students who received a badge. Their school communities have placed their trust in them as their representatives. I know they will do their very best to serve their local communities well.
Before the Christmas break I also had the opportunity to visit the Pymble and Beaumont Road public schools. Along with the member for Davidson and Speaker, the Hon Jonathan O'Dea, and the Federal member for Bradfield, and Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, I visited Killara High School. All three schools registered great achievements and had outstanding musical performances. I was honoured to be included in the days' events, particularly a question and answer session at Beaumont Road Public School, where I was faced with some interesting questions, both political and personal, asked by the year 5 and 6 pupils, and heard world-renowned former student Simon Tedeschi play the piano, even blindfolded.
It was truly an uplifting and inspiring three weeks. I thank each school for the annual invitations. I was happy that even with scheduling clashes I attended 18 of the 29 school assemblies. We should celebrate all of the achievements of our young people. I encourage all students to keep learning and developing their own individual talents. Whether they receive an award or not, if they have done their best they have much to be proud of. At the end of the day, it is not an award that drives achievement. Similarly, they do not need to have a formal position to be considered a leader. To that end, I encourage all students to be leaders in the classroom through their support of other students, as well as their involvement in academic, sporting and community events. I thank the teachers, staff, volunteers, parents, family members and friends whom I have had the pleasure of meeting for what they do for our young people. They are incredibly devoted to their students and children. I wish all students a great new year of learning and look forward to visiting their schools over the course of 2020.