School’s back for another year and Sydney’s brightest, creative and talented students are leading the way to motivate their peers as captains.

Leaders from year 6 and 12 across the city’s public and private schools have shared what they are looking forward to most in the new year, and what they hope to achieve as school leaders.

Meet our young and upcoming leaders for 2024.

Bede Polding College, South Windsor

Bede Polding Catholic College
Bede Polding College South Windsor school captains Kurt Rodwell (left) and Ava Grace Bennett (right).

Ava Grace Bennett – School captain

The last year of high school could not have come sooner for Bede Polding College captain Ava Grace Bennett.

“I am looking forward to October!” she said.

“Everything that we have been doing for the past five years has been building up to this final year and I am excited to see what we will achieve.”

But as eager as she is to get to the end of the year unscathed, Ava Grace does not want any regrets.

“I hope that by the end of this year I will be able to look back and say that I have achieved everything I had hoped.”

The 16-year-old said she was “grateful” for the opportunity to serve her school.

And she said until she stumbles on a lucky lottery ticket, she will continue to do so.

“I had hoped my family would win the Powerball,” she joked. “But for now I hope to live my life in a way that contributes and adds value to society and my community.

Kurt Rodwell – School captain

History is repeating for Kurt Rodwell, who has followed his primary school captaincy with another leadership nod in high school.

He said he felt “very privileged to be elected” by his peers.

“I wanted to help creative positive change within our school community,” Kurt added.

“I hope to contribute to the culture at my school.”

The 17-year-old engineering buff has seemingly learned early the value of prioritising lifestyle over stressing after a “dream job”.

“I have a dream lifestyle of living at the beach and travelling,” Kurt said, and that whatever he makes a “successful career” out of gets him there.

“Achieving this lifestyle is more important to me than a particular dream job or industry.”

St Monica’s Primary Richmond

St Monica's Catholic Primary, Richmond
St Monica's Primary School captains Jacinta Zahra, Sophia Bilbija, Luke Wilkinson and Jack Jojart.

Jacinta Zahra – School captain

Jacinta Zahra believes that being school captain will help her grow in confidence and into a “better person”.

She is looking forward to coming out of her shell more by speaking up at assemblies.

“I ran for school captain because I wanted to be able to speak more and not be as shy,” Jacinta said.

“Also because I wanted to be a better person in life, and when I grow up I can say I got school captain; even now I say to myself I can’t believe I got school captain!”

She hopes to have a “great” last year of primary school and “make the school a better place” before she leaves for high school.

And her biggest hope for the future is “to be able to have a great journey all through my school life and achieve most of my goals.”

Sophia Bilbija – School captain

Sophia Bilbija “loves” working with her leadership team, even if she’s still adjusting to the title.

“It feels very strange to be called a captain and I am still getting used to it,” she said.

“I have always wanted to be a role model to younger students, someone they can come to when they feel sad.”

Sophia, 11, hopes to keep up her good grades in her final year at St Monica’s, and to working “to improve the school further”.

“I’m looking forward to running assemblies, handing out the awards, going to events as one of the school captains and speaking in front of the school,” she said.

“My big hopes for the future are to have a great time at school, and achieve my very best. I want to be able to achieve all my goals, and be able to do anything I put my mind to.”

Whether that means turning her “love” of English and writing into a career – “seeing my books in stores, read by other people would be a thrill” – or becoming an architect designer.

Luke Wilkinson – School captain

Luke says it “feels good” to be elected to a leadership position, and that it is one of his proudest achievements.

The 11-year-old captain – whose favourite subjects are maths and PE – hopes the year in leadership helps improve his public speaking skills.

But he also hopes to leave a legacy of good leadership, and inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

“I hope this school has lots more great school leaders who will continue to make better choices for the community and school,” Luke said.

Luke is looking forward to another year playing cricket and soccer in the playground with his friends – something he dreams of turning into his profession when he’s older.

Jack Jojart – school captain

It may be early in the school year, but Jack Jojart already has his eyes on graduation and the next chapter of his life.

As captain, he hopes to “make the school a better place”.

“I ran for school captain because I know it will set a good example for kindergarten,” he said.

His favourite subject in school is maths “because it is fun to learn”.

The 11-year-old leader is particularly proud to have achieved many things at school, but his big hope for the future is not for himself, but for his “5-year-old brother to succeed at life”.

Chisholm Catholic Primary, Bligh Park

Chisholm Catholic Primary
Chisholm Catholic Primary school captains Amelia Parkinson, Riley Horvath, Ruby Wilkins, Chloe Buttigieg, Timofei Kachan, and Jake Horsey. Picture: Supplied

Amelia Parkinson, Riley Horvath, Ruby Wilkins, Chloe Buttigieg, Timofei Kachan and Jake Horsey – School captains

The leadership group at Chisholm Catholic Primary all want to leave a positive mark on their school (and their communities).

School captain Amelia Parkinson wants to “help our school and to make a difference” as school captain.

In fact, bettering people and things is what she wants to do forever.

Fellow Captain Riley Horvath, 11, wants to do the same.

He said he is looking forward to “making our school a better place” and being a “role model for others”.

Jake Horsey, another member of the Chisholm Catholic Primary leadership team, says he could not miss the “great opportunity” to lead the school as captain.

Not only does he want to “be of service” to others, but he also has big plans to “bring joy” to his peers and the world.

Meanwhile, Ruby Wilkins, yet another member of the captains squad, believes she was a “born leader”.

Both she and Riley hope for the world’s problems to be fixed – and to play some role in helping fix them.

Chloe Buttigieg, another student leader at the school, seems to know that it is the little things that help big problems: she wants to encourage her peers to be “more eco friendly” during her captaincy.

Timofei Kachan followed her sister’s steps into the captain contingent.

“My sister was a previous school leader and I thought it would be a great opportunity,” she said, adding that she wanted to be a “role model” for younger students in the role and also “make an impact”.

St Matthew’s Primary, Windsor

St Matthews Windsor Primary
Leaders Caption

Hayley Galea – School captain

Hayley Galea wants to “make a difference” as school captain.

She says this year she wants to be a leader that her peers “can feel comfortable to talk to” and someone to “look up to”.

“Honestly, I feel very honoured to be elected since there were so many really good contenders,” Hayley said.

She looks forward to reading at the different assemblies throughout the school year, and to trying all of the jobs that come with leadership.

Although Hayley is no doubt proud of being elected captain, she is “very proud” to have been the first St Matthew’s student in history to receive “Gold Wings” – the highest level of merit for consistent excellence in and outside the classroom.

“I felt very proud as it was something I’d been working towards,” she said.

Xavier Eason – School captain

Xavier Eason had only been at St Matthew’s for two terms when he was elected school captain – an achievement, he said fills him with “an immense sense of pride”.

“Being elected as school captain is an incredible privilege, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve in this role,” he said.

Xavier, 11, intends to be a captain who will assist younger students and be “someone to support them” through school.

A budding sportsman in his own right, who loves PDHPE and attends the same school as legendary Australian Diamonds captain Liz Ellis, Xavier has his heart and eyes set on winning the Sportsperson of the Year Award at the end of the year

“I have always admired previous students who have received this award,” he said.

Chantelle Lupi – School captain

As school captain, Chantelle Lupi wants to help her peers “find confidence” and work to “ensure they feel welcomed within our school community”.

She wants to spend her final year at St Matthew’s “helping people in any possible way and being the best learner that I can be”.

“This year, I am excited about collaborating with the rest of the leaders and students on various projects and initiatives,” Chantelle said.

“Being elected as a school captain is both an honour and an excitement for me because I believe I can make a positive difference and earn the trust of my peers.”

Ashton McCabe – School captain

St Matthew’s fourth school leader, Ashton McCabe, was unable to participate in the School Leader series.

Ashton was diagnosed with leukaemia in January, a devastating blow delivered during the school holidays just before he was due to join the leadership team.

Although he has not returned to school with his classmates, Ashton will join them in video calls each day to stay in touch and keep up with his school work.

St Matthew’s Acting Principal Ben Ticehurst says the school is fully behind Aston through this “significant challenge”, and looks forward to welcoming him back with open arms.

“Though Ashton has not yet been able to assume his role as school leader, we eagerly await his return and keep him in our thoughts and prayers as he embarks on his journey of treatment and recovery towards full health,” Mr Ticehurst said.

“Despite his physical absence from school presently, Ashton’s leadership qualities remain evident as he demonstrates unwavering dedication to his faith and resilience in the face of adversity.”


Written By

Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph
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