STUDENT ParRish Sihamau was adorned with a unique gift when she attended Lake Macquarie High’s year 12 graduation ceremony: five leis of cash and chocolate.
“It’s a traditional thing we do on the islands, in Tonga, Samoa and Niue – when we get awards our families give them to us,” said ParRish, 18, who was raised in Auckland and moved to Australia six years ago.
“15 of my 18 family members here today came over from New Zealand to be here with me.
“I feel honoured because they’re proud of me.”
Schools are saying goodbye to year 12 students this week, which also marks the end of term three. Year 12 students will sit the first Higher School Certificate written exam on October 18.
“I need to get studying,” ParRish said.
“But if I can get through high school I can get through the HSC no sweat at all.
“I’m relieved and just happy that I’ve made it to where I am now.”
Captains Ebony Linsley and Angelica Princena and vice captains Natasha Behrens and Keely Tanner said they had mixed feelings about reaching the end of 13 years of schooling.
“I felt like we were in year 11 a week ago and now suddenly we’re here,” Ebony said.
“I’m ready for change, but scared of the unknown.”
Natasha said it “hasn’t hit me yet that after the holidays and the HSC that we’re never coming back”.
“We’ve had so many ups and downs and really banded together.”
Keely said she felt ready to move on, but also “incredibly sad”.
“I feel like school has shaped us so well and though I’m not scared for the future, I feel like I’m going to lose a lot.
“We’ve been cherishing every last moment and being very sentimental.”
Angelica said she would miss “waking up and going somewhere you know, where people are waiting for you – people who make you happy, who are your safe space”.
Student Juliette Shelley performed Coldplay’s The Scientist at the assembly, before year advisor Bronwyn Svihla spoke, telling the cohort of 32 “I have gained inspiration and motivation from you all on a daily basis”.
“I would love you to continue to be creative, be an opportunist and take hold of the new,” Ms Svihla said.
“Be authentic in a world of Instafame, go on lots more adventures. Most importantly, be you.”
The students walked out to We’re All In This Together and attended their formal on Thursday night.
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