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Rotary recognises Meriden girls with Youth Awards

Joanna Li and Heather Kim

The Rotary Club of Strathfield has recognised the outstanding contribution of Meriden students to sport and the arts in the local community. Six girls have been presented Youth Achievement Awards in acknowledgement of their leadership, talent and dedication to their fields of expertise.

Two girls, Joanna Li and Heather Kim, have been presented with Youth Achievement Awards for Arts and Culture.

Year 10 student Joanna is a voice for young people. In early 2020, she was invited to present a TED Talk on speciesism at TED Ed Headquarters in New York City, where she urged her international audience to make judgments about animals based on facts, rather than emotion. An avid and passionate public speaker, Joanna participated in the Rostrum Voice of Youth Public Speaking Competitions in 2019 and 2020, as well as the Rotary Club of Burwood’s Speech Craft Night in 2018. Joanna is a dedicated advocate for the power of the student voice at Meriden and is an exemplary role model for her peers.

Heather, also a Year 10 student, is one of the School’s most exceptional and accomplished violinists. In 2017, Heather completed her AMusA Diploma with Distinction and, in 2019, was awarded the Licentiate Diploma in Performance with Distinction from the Australian Music Examinations Board. She recently won first prize at the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition in Bonn, Germany. Heather has been accepted into the State Intensive Program 2021 of Young Mannheim Symphonists run by the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) and she is a member of the Rising Stars program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In early 2019, Heather travelled to Brazil to perform at the Festival de Musica se Santa Catarina, one of the most prestigious youth music events in the world. She has been an active member of the Meriden Music program since 2017 and is a valued member of the School’s Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Strings, String Quartet and Choir.

Youth Achievement Awards for Sport were awarded to Nakeisha Brimble, Sienna Leeson, Ellen Murphy and Sarah Rokusek.

Nakeisha Brimble is an outstanding track and field athlete who is also the School’s 2020 Athletics/Cross Country Captain. She is an outstanding role model to her peers with a unique ability to motivate her teammates. She is an incredibly hard worker who has achieved significant athletics results. In 2019, Nakeisha placed fourth in both the Under 16 Triple Jump and Long Jump events at the Australian Junior Track and Field Championships, after which she was selected to the NSW CIS Merit team. At the NSW All Schools Championships, Nakeisha won gold in the 15 Years Triple Jump event and silver in the 15 Years Long Jump event, which qualified her for the Australian All Schools Championships in Perth where she took out the national Under 16 Triple Jump title. In 2020, Nakeisha set a new regional record for the Triple Jump and has qualified for the State Little Athletics Championships and the Australian Junior Athletics Championships.

Sienna Leeson is a talented tennis player who is committed to her sporting goals. Her coaches often comment on her hardworking nature and her willingness to challenge herself. She is often in the school gym outside of allocated training sessions, working to get ahead. She has a Tennis Australia Ranking of 321. In 2019, at her first Tildesley Shield Tournament, Sienna earned the title of Tildesley Doubles Champion. In the same year, she claimed tenth place at the Australian Claycourt Championships (14 and Under). At fourteen years old, Sienna took out both the 18 and Under Girls Singles title and the AMT Women’s Consolation Final at the 2019 South Pacific Open. She was selected a member of Team Meriden at the 2019 Australian Schools Tennis Challenge. In 2020 she took out a number of Singles titles, including at the ANZ Newcastle open Silver AMT-Gold JT and the Victorian Junior Grass-Court Championships.

Ellen Murphy’s performance on the track and field, along with her collegial manner, has earned her a Youth Achievement Award. She has significantly contributed to the development of Meriden’s Athletics Squad, including the School’s success at the 2019 IGSSA Athletics Championships, where she won all four of her individual events, running up Meriden’s overall point score. In the same year, when representing Meriden/IGSSA at the Combined Independent Schools Athletics Carnival, Ellen won three individual events and set two CIS records, qualifying her for the NSW CIS Merit team. At the NSW All Schools Championships, Ellen came away with one gold medal, three silver medals and one bronze medal, setting four personal best performances and qualifying for the Australian All Schools Championships in Perth. There, she continued to earn outstanding results, finishing with three gold medals, one silver medal and several personal best performances. Ellen’s performance has raised the profile of Athletics within the School and she is a great contributor to morale and the team environment.

Sarah Rokusek is a rising tennis star who is number two in her age group in Australia. She had a strong 2019 season, competing at all major national events and a number of international events, including the Muller Junior Cup, Ulm; the Bavarian Junior Open, Augsburg; and the Vanuatu Junior Open, Port Vila. In 2020, she was selected to the Australian team at the 2020 Asia/Oceania World Junior Tennis Competition. Sarah is a mentor to younger students at Meriden Tennis Academy and was an integral member of Meriden’s 2019 and 2020 Tildesley Shield Tennis squads.

Meriden congratulates Joanna, Heather, Nakeisha, Sienna, Ellen and Sarah on their Youth Achievement Awards and on their dedication to their passions and their service to their communities.

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