Girls, tell us how old you were when you first walked onto the campus here to start your education at St John’s Co-educational Junior School, the primary school of NEGS?
Rebecca: I had been living at NEGS prior to my first day, because my father was on staff – but I was around 3 years of age when I first attended pre-prep.
Zara: It was term 3, 1997 – I was just three years and seven months old!
Jessica: Four years old.
Meg: I was 5 and a half.
Jess, Rebecca and Meg, What are your earliest memories of school?
Jessica: In pre-prep (now Transition) there used to be kind of play castle in the playground, and I remember how much fun we had pretending to be princesses or witches making potions from dirt and water.
Rebecca: Some of my earliest memories of school would be heading to the riding school morning after morning with mum to help feed ‘the big girls’ horses. No matter what, every morning one of the senior girls would have me under their wing heading down to their horses.
Meg: I really remember seeing snow for the first time.
What extracurricular activities have you been involved with throughout your schooling at St John’s and NEGS?
Zara: Being at NEGS for so long, I have given everything a bit of a go, including cattle club, various sports including rifle shooting, hand bells, choir, playing clarinet and in Year 8, I went to St Christopher’s orphanage in Fiji.
Jessica: Playing violin in the string ensemble, including performing during a food expo at NSW Parliament House. I loved speech and drama lessons, which culminated in a trip to America last year. I was also on the trip to St Christopher’s, where we built a covered pathway for the children – it was very rewarding. I’ve also enjoyed art, including winning prizes at the Let’s Hang It exhibition at NERA and Armidale Show.
Rebecca: Hockey and equestrian from the day that I was old enough to participate. I played tennis and also represented the school in Sydney for cross country running while in the junior school. I joined the cattle team in year 4 and have loved it ever since.
Meg: Lots of sport, including volleyball, tennis, hockey, representative cross country and athletics and horse riding at Coonabarabran. I’ve played three instruments, been involved in debating and public speaking and performed in numerous musicals and eisteddfods, choir, and participated in the Tournament of Minds competition and the Junior Round Square Conference – so I’ve had plenty of opportunities.
Rebecca and Meg, how has the school changed in the time you have been there?
Rebecca: It has changed in many ways over the years, with new buildings, and different staff over the years. While I don’t really know anywhere else, one thing that hasn’t changed is the community support and encouragement of the school for all of its students to reach their full potential.
Meg: The move of Junior School to the Saumarez building and then back to Horbury Hunt, the new Junior School library, the introduction of a Year 12 common room for day and boarding girls and just recently, the opening of the new equestrian centre, which is definitely a big, exciting change for NEGS.
Jessica and Zara, what are the great things about having all your schooling at the one place?
Jessica: Going through schooling with people you have known the whole time has made growing up so much easier – people have been with you watching you develop as an individual and accept you for that.
Zara: Familiarity with your surroundings is an obvious one, but more enduring is the friendships that I made from such an early age that will last a lifetime.
It’s pretty unusual for someone to go all the way through the one school for their education, from pre-primary to HSC level. Meg and Rebecca, what does that say about the school, do you think?
Meg: From pre-prep through to Year 12, NEGS has supported me in whatever direction I have decided to go. Whether it be my love for sport, music or on a more academic basis, NEGS has definitely given me the foundations and opportunities I need to push me in almost every area. I think the opportunities available speak for themselves, and this says a lot about a school.
Rebecca: It shows that the NEGS community is a unique one – one that values all of its students and families, as well as supporting the local community.
For anyone leaving school, it can be an emotional time. How do you think you will all feel when you are officially farewelled on Valedictory Day?
Jessica: As the four of us have been here for 13 or 14 years, you become very attached to something –even if you hate it sometimes!
Rebecca: Although I’m glad that my schooling is coming to an end, NEGS is all I have ever known. Some of my best memories come from inside the grounds of NEGS, and not to mention the friendships that I have made with some of the most amazing girls. It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to the people that we see every day.
Zara: It will be good to get out and spread our wings at long last, but sad to leave the friends and environment about the school.
Meg: Definitely lots of tears!
And lastly, what are your plans for life in the big wide world beyond NEGS?
Rebecca: At this stage, I’m not really sure. I’m not heading off to university straight away, although I do hope to travel overseas in the near future.
Jessica: I would really like to be accepted into the College of Fine Arts at the University of NSW. Down the track, I really want a career in design, perhaps with my own company.
Zara: I plan on studying either nursing or agriculture science at university, but will probably have a year off first.
Meg: My aim is to get into Newcastle University and study nutrition and dietetics, or something else health related. I am really interested in that area, so fingers crossed everything goes according to plan!
Good luck girls!
This story was published in issue 64 of the New England Focus