The North West Star

Townsville students host their school's first ever "Virtual Open Day"

PICTURESQUE: The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James is preparing to hold its first ever "Virtual Open Day" on May 16.

While the COVID-19 Pandemic may have changed the way they live, it hasn't stopped the students at The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James from inviting their future classmates into their tight-knit community.

For the first time in its history, the Townsville boarding school will hold a "Virtual Open Day" on Saturday, May 16, and the staff and students are working around the clock to make it happen.

The innovative event will include virtual tours, talks from students and live streamed Q&A style events, all of which will be put together with the help of the school's media club.

Registrar Jane Passmore says the students are eager to apply their ideas and learning in technology to hold the annual Open Day, adding it will give families looking to enrol next year a feel for what the school is "all about", despite being isolated at home.

In fact, she says, the dedication staff and students have shown in putting together the programme is an example of just how committed they are to helping young people reach their full potential.

REACHING THEIR FULL POTENTIAL: Students conducting an experiment in one The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James' science labs.

"We're really big on celebrating success in all forms, so we work with the individual child to understand not only what their interests are but also what their greatest strengths are too," she explained.

"We want to help them to figure out what it is they actually want to do with their lives and we have a number of programmes that help to do this."

The school offers a massive range of courses to its students - the senior handbook alone has more than 160 pages - and includes everything from traditional academic subjects through to VET and work based studies.

The point of education, Ms Passmore says, is to learn to achieve. For each individual student that means something different and the school isn't interested in stymying their growth by applying a cookie cutter philosophy that tries to force every child into a certain mould.

This is a big part of the reason the students are so passionate about their school community. One such student is Year 11 boarder Clem Needham.

A country boy, Clem lives on Bellfield Station near Richmond and started boarding when he was in Year 7.

GAINING EXPERIENCE: Year 11 boarder Clem Needham pursuing his interest in engineering.

A keen Rugby player, the youngster has seen a substantial improvement in his academic results since coming to the school.

Not only has his mathematics results converted from Cs to As, his teachers are helping him explore his interests so he can find an employment pathway that suits his interests.

"My teacher Mrs Walker-Campbell makes maths fun and really easy to understand. There is a wide range of academic subjects, plus so many pathways on offer," Clem said.

"I am currently undertaking an Engineering pathway, which combines training in fitter and turning and boiler making," he continued.

"The opportunities are unbelievably broad. Some of my other friends are pursuing their interests in creative industries, agriculture, health, business, hospitality ... and we will all gain an industry recognised qualification before we even leave school."

NEVER A DULL MOMENT: The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James is home to a $3m Sports Precinct, so there's plenty of room to play.

Clem is also sports mad and says he absolutely loves his school for the opportunities it has given him to play representative sports and have fun with his mates.

The school has a $3m Sports Precinct with eight courts plus an indoor stadium. It also has more than 100 separate extracurricular activities to choose from, including everything from robotics club or chess club through to landcare groups, performing arts, media club and just about any sport you can think of.

"The facilities are amazing and there is always heaps of other students to play with," he said.

"Outside of school, Townsville is home to so many sporting clubs and the school supports us to live like a local," he added.

"So, just like the day kids, we can keep busy on weekends with a part-time job or playing sports and attending social events."

Another boarder who is passionate about his school community is Year 12 student Patrick Axford.

HIDDEN TALENTS: Year 12 student Patrick Axford discovered his passion for rowing while boarding at the school.

Like Clem, Patrick is a country lad who says coming to The Cathedral School when he was in Year 7 has proven to be a life changing decision.

Not only did it introduce him to the sport of rowing, which has since become a calling, it is also helping him to achieve his lifelong goal of joining the Australian Defence Force.

"I have been given an astounding amount of opportunities, many of which I could never have dreamed of had I stayed at home in Winton," Patrick said.

"My career advisor does a tremendous job and has assisted me in applying for work experience with the ADF. They're ensuring I choose subjects that support the role which I want in the Army."

The senior is thankful for the opportunities the school has given him to mature, grow and take responsibility for his own learning. He is also thankful for the strong sense of discipline boarding has given him.

BEST FRIENDS: The boarders develop a close bond over their time at the school, creating friendships that will last a lifetime.

Aside from academics and sport, the school also encourages its students to pursue civic passions too. As a result, Patrick raised more than $2500 for cancer research in 2018 when he took part in the World's Greatest Shave For A Cure.

"Another great thing about boarding at The Cathedral School is the opportunity to make lifelong friends, who shape the person you become," he said.

"There's a sense of family that comes from living with a group of people for such a long period of time. My time at Cathedral has been full of opportunities to expand my horizons and partake in things that I couldn't possibly do at home."

The Virtual Open Day will take place from 10am on Saturday, May 16. To register or for more information click here or contact Ms Passmore on (07) 4722 2000