Tumut High School captains, a decade on

School Captains and Vice Captains 2010 Heather Wortes, Matthew Bright, Roden Hung and Courtney Barratt.

Education Week is an annual celebration of NSW public education and the achievements of local schools and students. This year, Education Week ran from Monday, August 3, to Friday, 7. The theme was ‘Learning together’.

Tumut High School captains from 2010 were invited to update stduents their thoughts from school and life, post school at THS.

Courtney Barratt

2010 captain Courtney Barratt attended Tumut High from Year 7 to 12. Her favourite subject was Agriculture with Mr Butler. She said Mr Butler had an infectious passion for Agriculture that made a city girl fall in love with everything ‘country’.

From agricultural production, marketing and management to plant science and animal husbandry, Ms Barratt said Agriculture developed her understanding and appreciation of the importance and impact that farming has on the Australian population and economy. 

Courtney said her fondest memory from high school was traveling to Europe. Seeing France, Italy and Switzerland was “an incredible experience” and she especially enjoyed Villers-Bretonneux. 

Apart from the trip to Europe, Ms Barrett also loved representing the school in sport. Whether it was swimming, soccer, football or athletics, any time Courtney spent playing sport was a highlight for her.

After high school, she studied a Bachelor of Sport Science and Education in Albury and worked as a Development Officer for the NRL and Cricket NSW.

In 2018 she lived and travelled in New Zealand while working as a Special Needs Teacher’s Aide. The Snowy Valleys called Ms Barratt home in 2019, where she opened a Podiatry clinic with her partner, Evan

 In 2020 they expanded their Clinic and reopened it as ‘Rural Health’ an Allied Health Clinic offering Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology and Podiatry services.

Ms Barratt offered the following advice for current students: “The HSC is not the be-all and end-all, and you can be whatever you want no matter what ATAR you achieve. University is a fantastic path to take, however I think too much emphasis is placed on it being the only path to success.”

Roden Hung 

Also a captain in 2010, Roden Hung, also known as Rodney, Rod or Hungy, was a student at Tumut High for Years 11 and 12. Mr Hung’s favourite subject was Business Studies with Mr O’Brien. 

“Who knew that Mr O’Brien’s passion for teaching and business models would have set me up for life a decade ago?”he said.

Roden completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Finance at the University of Wollongong and earned a Diploma of Chartered Accounting with CAANZ. He has taken those principles from sitting at a desk in Mr O’Brien’s classroom to sitting at a desk in a top 10 firm overlooking the Sydney CBD.

He still remembers some stand out moments from his days at THS. Like Ms Barratt, he pointed to the High School Europe Trip as an amazing opportunity to learn and experience different cultures with his best friends. Mr Hung said it made him realise how different the world is outside of our beautiful community.  

“Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and running a campaign for school captain with Courtney was memorable!,” he added. 

“We had a lot of fun coming up with campaign slogans, designing posters, and writing our speeches. It was extremely rewarding being the voice for students at THS.”

He offered the following advice to current Tumut High School students “Two minds are greater than one. Surround yourself with people that challenge you. Focus on what excites you.”

Heather Wortes

Heather Wortes was vice-captain in 2010 and attended Tumut High from Year 7 through to Year 12. Her favourite subject was Ancient History with Ms West, with an honourable mention for Music with her mother, Ms Bailey.

Heather’s fondest memories of high school included the Europe Trip and other amazing excursions, including Encore at the Opera House, PAIN, Ten Trek and Central Australia. She said she hasn’t met any students from other schools who can boast of a school excursion to Europe.  

Ms Wortes listed CAPA concert performances as one of her greatest memories of school.  

Living in Sydney now Heather feels lucky to have grown up and attended high school in a rural area. 

“We have great opportunities and support in the Tumut community,” she said.

Heather graduated with a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies (Journalism) (Distinction) /Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Wollongong.  She is now the Program Manager for NSW/ACT at CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program. 

CareerTrackers is a national non-profit organisation that works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from senior high school through university to graduation to create professional career pathways. CareerTrackers has a 50 year vision to build generations of Indigenous professionals who are able to access leadership and enable change for their communities. In her role, Ms Wortes leads the program delivery and a team of advisors. She said she is proud to be able to support students to achieve their career aspirations.

Ms Wortes’ advice for current Tumut High School students is, “Do what you are passionate about. Build strong relationships with others. I wouldn’t have got to where I am today without my family, friends and teachers in high school!”

Matthew Bright

2010 Vice Captain Matthew Bright says he had two favourite teachers at Tumut High, Mr Burns and Mr O’Brien. 

Mr Burns taught Mr Bright and introduced Matthew to his career through a trip to see the Wagga Base Radiology Department. 

Mr Bright said Mr O’Brien prepared students for the HSC really well and Business Studies taught him useful “adult-life” knowledge. Matthew said both subjects were fun. He also said he had great English teachers, but unfortunately “they were teaching a terrible subject!”

A favourite memory from THS was when his mother would watch the swimming and athletics carnivals. He said he hated swimming but would enter all the events,  because his mother was watching.

He completed a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Medical Imaging) at CSU Wagga Wagga in 2015 and went on to work for I-MED in NW Tasmania as an MRI, CT and General Radiographer.

His advice to current THS students is “Enjoy your high school years and friends while it lasts.” 

“Life’s a lot simpler at school, soon these will just be the good old days,” he said. 

“Like people will say, high school results and the HSC are really not the end of the world. (Although, depending on where you want to go, a bit of short term pain and work now, might get you where you want a little quicker).”

Tumut High School administrators say they’re proud to have been part of the success of these students as they continue to focus on the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) values of respect, responsibility and safety to guide all students to become “active and successful members of our community.”

In this year of bushfires, floods and Covid-19, the key messages of Education Week are:

Schools are the cornerstone of communities: Parents and carers are partners with schools in learning. Schools and families benefit from strong, respectful relationships where responsibility for student learning is shared. 

Andrew Somerville, Head Teacher Wellbeing, agreed that school can be a focal point for a community in challenging times. 

“School offers a place of stability and connection despite any uncertainty and change in the world,” he said. 

At Tumut High School the Wellbeing Hub connects families to support services and regularly shares wellbeing resources with all families as a means of support. During remote learning, the Learning and Wellbeing Team called each of the school’s families to check on their needs and maintain a connection with students. Mr Sommeriville said it was “obvious both staff and students were looking forward to returning to face to face learning.”

Change and resilience: Teachers and students are lifelong learners, collaborating in a positive learning environment to achieve their best. Learning together makes us strong and creates resilient communities. 

Mrs Oag, Learning and Wellbeing Coordinator for Year 7 to 9, commented how the experience of Covid-19 forced a new version of learning on both staff and students. 

“At the time it was a big learning curve but most beneficial for everyone involved,” she said. 

Mrs Oag was involved in promoting wellbeing activities during Covid-19 and having learnt how to produce podcasts with Mrs Swan, she is now sharing her knowledge and teaching other staff the procedure for podcasts. She hoped the podcasts were a boost for our students and their families and provided new strategies for resilience during tough times.

Connect better and learn together: THS said “school staff are dedicated professionals who know, value and care for all students. Technology enables learning together anywhere, any time.”

Ms Whyte, Year 7 Adviser, noted the upskilling of staff that took place alongside THS students, to cater for the changes to learning during this unprecedented time. Following from remote learning, during Year 7 Alternative Learning Program (ALP) days, students continue to connect through a variety of ‘non-traditional’ settings and ways of learning. Using various forms of technology both staff and students are communicating and learning together.​

 This Education Week, Tumut High School said students are enjoying being at school and “whilst school is not the normal we knew it to be, the core focus continues to be providing a safe and engaging place to learn.”