Bright past, bright future
Settling into the boarding program at St Catherine’s School in Toorak, Vic, has been easier than expected for year 10 student Flynn O’Brien, of Bright, Vic.
Year 10 boarder at St Catherine’s School, Flynn O’Brien, misses a lot of things about her small hometown of Bright, in northeastern Victoria. “I love everything about Bright,” she says. “I miss the people there and the environment. I miss having so much space and so little traffic. I have lived there my whole life and that familiarity is hard to replicate.” Flynn became a boarder at St Catherine’s last year, moving from a town with only 2000 people and a school in which there were just 10 people in her year, to a Melbourne city school with 45 other boarders and 79 students in her year alone.
“I am still continuously getting lost in the city and, apart from places in Toorak, I always have to rely on Google Maps,” she says. “I suppose because I know everything about Bright, its small size gives me a sense of comfort.” Flynn and her sister Erin live in St Catherine’s heritage-listed boarding house Illawarra, which accommodates 2–6 girls in each room. The house has a communal study room, kitchen and dining room. “It felt like home after a few days,” Flynn says. “Everyone at the boarding house was welcoming. There are many perks of being a boarder, such as having 46 sisters whenever you need anything, and only having to walk 200 metres to school.”
Established in 1896, St Catherine’s School has 755 students from prep to Year 12. Flynn’s parents, Toni and Chris O’Brien, say they chose the school for their daughters because of the range of subjects and opportunities. “The subjects available have broadened their interests and allowed them to make choices not available in regional Victoria,” Toni says.
“There is so much to do at St Catherine’s and I have tried to get involved with as much as I can,” Flynn says.
She participated in the Future Problem Solving National Finals, which her team won writing about the global workplace 20 years into the future. Flynn says another highlight was a Year 9 trip to the Fijian highlands. “We spent time in the school in the village surrounded constantly by energetic little kids. They were eager to play games with us and follow us around,” she says.“Altogether it made me so much more aware of how fortunate I am. It taught me not to take anything for granted and I have a new perspective on everything that I do now … I plan on going back up to the highlands when I finish school.”