Class of 2020 – Isabel Simons

Isabel has been part of the St Catherine’s School community since Year 9, joining in 2017. As the Art and Design Co-Captain for 2020, she has worked cooperatively with her Co-Captain as well as staff in the Art Department demonstrating tremendous leadership in communicating with the School community to create a variety of challenges. 

For her final year Isabel undertook a two-folio load, studying both Studio Arts and Visual CommunicationHear from Isabel as she leaves the Heyington Gates behind her, about her passion for art and design, the highlights of her journey at St Catherine’s, and what she will take with her. 

What do you plan to study post school?
Next year I am hoping to carry over my passion for art and design by studying communication design at university. I’ve always been a creative soul and I can’t wait to be able to focus all my energy into this one field. 

Where do you hope to study?
My first preference is RMIT because they offer some of the top creative courses in the country.  

COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works for 2020. Has it changed your perspective of where you see yourself in five years’ time?  Not at all. Although this year itself has had countless disruptions, I am confident it will not affect me in the future, other than positively, by teaching me how to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. 

 What have been some of the highlights of your time at St Catherine’s?
For me, I have three standout highlights. The first would have to be the Heyington to Highlands trip in Year 9. It really shifted my perspective in terms of how we view the world. This one memory has particularly stuck in my mind, when one Fijian student did not have a pencil so another split their own in half, so they could both have one. 

 Another memory would definitely be working with all of the Beaulieu Blair girls for House Arts last year, especially in the art rooms. It was so exciting to get to know more girls and experience the enhanced sense of community that this weeklong event brings with itIt was also so rewarding to experience a win, after all the hard work we had put in. 

 Overall though, I’d have to say the last week of Year 12 classes, including Celebration Day and the guard of honour, was undoubtedly the best way that this unforgettable year could have ended.  

What will you take away from this year despite COVID-19?
From the amount of studying this year I’ve definitely developed an acute attention to detail, persistence and motivation that I will be able to carry into my future studies and work, I’m sure. But I’ve also formed some very close relationships, that I’m hoping I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  

What are some life lessons you have learnt from your time at St Catherine’s, and particularly 2020?
Throughout my time at St Catherine’s, I have learnt the importance of gratitude. From the trip to the Fijian Highlands in Year 9, the gratitude camp in Year 10 with the fabulous speaker Meredith Gaston, or even just day to day classes, I’ve learnt to express and feel so lucky for my education and the community I have grown up surrounded by, these past 4 years. Also, this year I’ve learnt that everyone is on their own journey, you cannot compare yourself to your classmates. And I think this has been a really important voice in the back of my head throughout this year, that has kept me working hard to compete with myself, rather than everyone else. 

What has COVID-19 taught you that will be able to transfer into the next phase of your journey?
Undoubtedly COVID-19 has taught me how to be flexible and adaptable, sometimes even when it feels like there is no other option. I think these are some very beneficial skills to possess because often in the ‘real world’, you are required to think on your feet. For example, for most of this year we were unable to hold Art club physically, so we adapted to an online environment, with new challenges for students. This has similarly extended to virtual English study sessions and even lunch and recess with friends.  

How do you believe St Catherine’s and your teachers have helped you reach your goals?
St Catherine’s has definitely helped me, particularly my teachers, through their constant belief in me even when I have been uncertain. They’ve helped me consistently and persistently, to push my ideas and knowledge. Many of my subject teacher have also absolutely gone above and beyond to assist us in our studies, whether that is providing extra resources or holding practice exams on a Saturday, which I’m sure will help me reach my desired study scores.  

What advice would you provide to future Year 12 students?
I would definitely tell future Year 12 students that sometimes it’s necessary to listen to your own instincts and what your mind and body needs, rather than what your teachers or subjects need in that moment. In addition, make the most of your time at school! You truly do not realise what you are so lucky to have, until you don’t. And we definitely got a taste of that this year unfortunately. Finally, always talk to teachers, friends and/or family when you’re struggling. They will help you reach where you need to be, or at least reassure you. 

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