Class of 2021 recognised for their perseverance and dedication to learning

14 October 2021

Meriden has celebrated the tenacious, resilient and optimistic Class of 2021. At the Graduation and Prizegiving ceremony, which was livestreamed to members of the School community, Dr Julie Greenhalgh presented awards that acknowledged the remarkable academic, sporting and leadership achievements of the cohort.

Each Year 12 student received the Fidelis Award for Citizenship in recognition of the perseverance they have shown in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Dr Greenhalgh said the Year 12 students have shown themselves to be enthusiastic and engaged learners who have gone from strength to strength in their academic work. She said that in rising to the challenges thrown at them by the circumstances of 2021, she knows the girls have learnt far more than the content outlined in their syllabi.

"I know you have learnt the value of screen-free and nightly rest; I know you have learnt to be grateful and rejoice as a result; I know you have learnt the importance of relationships and that you will strive to be kind, unfailingly kind, always,” said Dr Greenhalgh.

“You have learnt the value of these three R’s of a 2021 Meriden education: rest, rejoicing and relationships, so you truly have had a sterling education, and I am confident that you will leave Meriden ready to make your mark on the world.”

Year 12 Coordinator, Ms Danuta Orlowski, congratulated the girls on reaching this important milestone in their schooling whilst learning remotely.

“This year has taught you to be resilient and independent learners, determined to continue in the face of disappointment,” she said.

“This year, you have faced your biggest hurdles yet. You became the first group of students at Meriden to do your Trial HSC Examinations online. You persevered with determination, and you made the best of a situation that could not be changed. We are so proud of you and your achievements.”

Year 12 student, Michelle Oh, was named Dux of the School, having achieved a high level of academic excellence across all her subjects. She was also presented the Service to the School Community Award.

The Fidelis Award for Courage was presented to Phillipa Bartlett in recognition of the determination and grit she has shown throughout her educational journey. Phillipa showed great courage in moving from Alice Springs to Sydney to attend Meriden. This year, Phillipa was visiting her family in Alice Springs when Covid-19 border closures were put in place. Despite having a considerably extended remote learning period compared to her peers, Phillipa remained focused and determined.

Other honours presented include the Rotary Prize for Citizenship, which was awarded to Vanessa Hamilton-Kane; the Principal’s Award, which was bestowed on Elizabeth Roberts; and the Matheson Award, which was presented to Tara McManus for her enthusiastic participation and performance in sport at Meriden.

Eight students were awarded School Colours, a prestigious accolade given to Year 12 students who have achieved at an exceptional level in a cocurricular activity at Meriden. Citations for each recipient are below.

Alison Chang – Music

Alison is an outstanding flautist and an exemplary ambassador for music at Meriden. Alison achieved her AMusA Diploma on flute in 2020 and also holds her CMus in both flute and piano. For the past five years, she has represented Meriden in the NSW Band Championship State Solo Section and in the Sydney Metropolitan Band Branch Solos and Ensembles Competitions. In 2019, Alison participated in the Australian Combined Schools Music Festival under esteemed conductor, Dr John Lynch. Alison has been a remarkable leader for various Meriden music ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Concert Band, Senior Singers and Rock Band. Alison has been a highly valued and committed member of the Amadeus Program and has maintained an outstanding level of excellence in her contribution to the musical life of the School.

Jasmine Higgs – Water Polo

Jasmine is an outstanding Water Polo player and member of Meriden’s Olympus Program. Jasmine is a Born 2003 Australian Identified Athlete and she is also a member of the Australian Youth Women’s Gold Water Polo Team (Born 2003). In 2021, Jasmine was one of the youngest players to be invited to train with the Pathway to Paris Squad, a development pathway for Australian senior women’s players. She has proudly represented her school in IGSA and NSW CIS competitions and competed for New South Wales. In 2020, Jasmine was named Meriden’s Sportswoman of the Year. Jasmine has shown extraordinary commitment to Water Polo at Meriden and she has been a valuable leader within the School community.

Vernica Mehta – Philosophy

Vernica has been an exemplary ambassador for philosophy at Meriden. Vernica has represented Meriden in philosophy at both state and national levels. She participated in the NSW Philosothon for three consecutive years, a competition in which the skills and attributes of critical, creative and collaborative thinking, as well as intellectual humility, are highly valued. In 2018 and 2020, Vernica was awarded second place in her division and greatly contributed to Meriden qualifying for the Australasian Philosothon. Vernica has promoted philosophical enquiry and ethical discussion amongst her peers through her organisation of the Social Justice Forums and her thoughtful contributions to Meriden’s Philosophy Club.

Isabella Moon – Biathlon

Isabella is an accomplished international biathlete who has represented Australia at the Winter Youth Olympics in Switzerland. This year, Isabella was appointed Sustainability Ambassador to the International Biathlon Union. In this leadership role, she has actively shared her ideas and opinions about sustainability to increase awareness about biathlon and sustainability in sport. Additionally, Isabella served as Olympus Captain, encouraging and supporting her fellow student athletes who are rising in the ranks of elite sport. Isabella is generous with her time and is known for welcoming new students to the Olympus Program.

Liliane Spratt – Rhetoric

During her time at Meriden, Liliane has been a committed student in the art of rhetoric. Under Lilian’s leadership – she was Oxford House Captain in 2020 and Deputy Head Prefect in 2021– the Meriden community has benefited greatly from her eloquence and clarity of speech. Liliane’s participation in the AHIGS Festival of Speech saw her claim first prize in the Reading section for two consecutive years. She has completed the rigorous Speech and Drama IMEB assessments each year at Meriden and in 2020, she gained her Associate Performers Diploma with Honours. Liliane has performed lead roles in Meriden’s drama and musical productions and has led and entertained the School community as master of ceremonies at many official gatherings. Liliane has displayed the significance of rhetoric and the power of the sophisticated, refined and intelligent use of the spoken word.

Amelie Sun – Athletics

Amelie is a top-performing athlete who served as Sports Prefect in 2021 and is a member of Meriden’s Olympus Program. She has proudly represented Meriden in Athletics at the IGSA, NSW CIS and NSW All Schools Championship and she represented New South Wales in the National Schools Nitro Challenge and the Australian Athletics Championships. During her time at Meriden, Amelie was awarded the Meriden Sportswoman of the Year three times, a testimony to her exceptional commitment to Athletics. Among all her successes, she has been an exemplary ambassador for the School and a valuable role model to her peers.

Subeksha Suren Raj – Tennis

Subeksha is a rising tennis star and has been an integral member of Meriden’s Tildesley Shield Tennis Squad, winning the prestigious Tildesley Doubles Championships in successive years. Subeksha represented the Meriden Blue Team at the Australian Schools Tennis Challenge in 2018 and 2019, where her team placed second and third respectively. In 2019, she was one of three Meriden students selected to represent IGSA at the NSW CIS Tennis Trials. Subeksha has competed in a number of International Tennis Federation tournaments, achieving a Junior World Ranking of 1900. Subeksha has been a valued leader within Meriden’s Tennis team and Olympus Program and has played a pivotal role in mentoring a generation of elite players.

Rena Tang – Music

Rena is one of Meriden’s most exceptional musicians and diligently served as Head Prefect in 2021. Rena was awarded her AMusA Diploma with Distinction on cello and, as a clarinettist, gained her Grade 7 with Honours. During her time at Meriden, Rena successfully auditioned for the Sydney Youth Peter Seymour Orchestra and the Sydney Youth Orchestra Philharmonic. Her participation in national events includes the Australian Chamber Orchestra Academy, the Australian Chamber Orchestra Music Weekend, the Australian Combined Schools Music Festival and the Gospel Orchestra as part of Prom Praise. Rena’s commitment to Meriden’s ensembles has been extraordinary, performing in the Chamber Strings, Symphony Orchestra, String Quartet, Chapel Band, Rock Band, Concert Band, Wind Symphony and Symphonic Winds. A member of the Amadeus Program, Rena has maintained a generous commitment to the music program at Meriden and has been an influential role model to her peers.