Year 11 student Mara is magnetic, funny and loyal and she quickly became an important part of our NGC family since her arrival in 2019.
It was actually because of her own family that Mara came to know all about our small school, with her two sisters completing Year 12. Now she hopes to do the same and is setting an excellent foundation in and outside of the classroom.
But graduating high school wasn't always on Mara's agenda. She found it hard to settle down and focus within a mainstream classroom and often struggled with feeling targeted by teachers or peers. It didn't make for a positive learning environment and she ultimately had to move on from her previous high school in search of a better fit. Given her sisters were enjoying their NGC experience, it became the clear next step.
Within this new setting, Mara has thrived in the classroom and received consistently excellent feedback from her teachers. She has found her stride with practical, hands-on activities, from practical Sports Lifestyle and Recreation lessons to water testing experiments in Science.
"Here, the teachers take it slower so you can really learn and they try their best to explain it in a bunch of ways so you understand. And at the same time, if you finish and need more challenging, they give that to you as well. The teachers push you to achieve to your limits and finish your work, but there's not all this unnecessary pressure. Things are very hands-on and we get out into the world and figure out how things actually work."
As well as excelling in the classroom, Mara is an absolute go-getter when it comes to her chosen V.E.T subject; Construction. She says that she was motivated to learn how to build things on her own without relying on others and feel that sense of empowerment. Mara has certainly smashed through that goal, as she's built smaller-scale projects like bird-boxes and made big contributions to the concreting and construction of our in-progress demountable toilet block. She is excited to participate in her first work experience placement later this year, which will incorporate 35 hours with a local Building and Construction-focused employer.
Mara has been a keen participant in the Stage 5 Standing Strong Program and recently completed Love Bites; an initiative about healthy relationships. As part of this, she and her female peers learnt about consent, safe sex, pregnancy, recreational drugs, relationship 'red flags' and more. Outside of structured programs, Mara has been able to access a range of supports outside of the classroom. This has included regular informal chats with our school counsellor Damian or onsite case workers. Similarly, she has lent on her NGC friends, noting that everyone talks to each other with ease and is ready to accept her without judgement.
"When something is bothering you, it can just get in the way and stop you focusing. So, it helps so much to just clear my head, talk with Damien or Lee and get some quick, simple advice that takes that weight off my shoulders. You can also talk to any of the teachers about anything and they'll always hear you out. Everyone here is focused on helping you and checking in on your wellbeing - there's no judgement and we all welcome each other no matter. You can be from any culture, and have any sexual orientation or different abilities - you're still going to be accepted."
While Mara still has a while before she crosses the finish line of Year 12 graduation, she is already pondering what kind of career will suit her. She is incredibly passionate about performance and wants to pursue acting at some point, but she is also drawn to continuing Construction or heading to TAFE for another trade. Whatever is next for her, we are sure Mara will take up the challenge with her signature gusto!
"I always tell anyone who is struggling at a mainstream school that they should come to NGC. Everyone just cares about you as an individual. From offering brekky every day to having spare clothes and towels on hand for sport to providing financial assistance or transport, they do whatever it takes to help you succeed. I have a totally different mindset now - before I never wanted to go to school but NGC makes you feel good like you want to be here."