Carinity school transforming lives for 25 years
Jacqui Clevens can still remember the day she got her first ‘A’ grade for a school assessment. The positive impact it had on her as a teenager, who had previously struggled with her education, still reverberates today.
On September 15 the school celebrated 25 years of supporting young women who have previously faced barriers to education.
“I had struggled in primary school, which lead me to struggle in high school. Having supportive people at Southside that I could go to … it was almost like a family. The teachers were so understanding, supportive and thorough in the way they educated us,” Jacqui said.
“The first ‘A’ I ever got was in Science in Grade 9 at Southside. I still remember it like it was yesterday; the feeling of seeing that ‘A’ on the paper. It gave me so much self-confidence and it felt so good knowing that somebody actually believed in me.”
Long-time Southside Education supporter, Diane Heidke, published magazine articles about the school; produced books of students’ writing; organised fundraisers; and mentored students. She said the school assists young women “floundering in the river of life taking them nowhere” and helps them achieve their full potential.
“This school catches girls at a very vulnerable time and gives them the care and support missing from their lives. In doing so, what seemed impossible before – a good education – especially for young mothers, was within their reach,” Diane said.
“On occasion the principal at the time, Colleen Mitrow, and one of the Indigenous teachers would drive to known hangouts looking for vulnerable Southside students. They would bring them to school where they were given warm food, counselling and encouraged to resume their studies.
“There are many women today who testify that Southside Education saved their lives.”
Since graduating from Year 12 in 2007, Jacqui has worked in residential care and community services supporting kids “who went through the same sort of things I went through as a teen.”
“If it wasn’t for Southside, I think things would have been a lot more difficult for me. A lot of my peers that I kicked around with as a teenager, they’re now heavily involved in drugs and alcohol or they’re dead or in jail,” Jacqui said.
“A lot of the girls who went to Southside and furthered themselves in life say the same thing: the school helped give us that drive and that support to finish school. There weren’t many in my family who finished Year 12 so that was a big achievement.
“Southside helped me in so many ways. They helped me find my voice. They helped break down a lot of barriers for me, as an Aboriginal person and as a young mum. I wouldn’t be as successful as I am without Southside.”