For some years now we have heard of the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in schools and universities for the future of Australia. In 2015 the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) suggested that a “renewed national focus on STEM in school education is critical to ensuring that all young Australians are equipped with the necessary STEM skills and knowledge that they must need to succeed.” At Strathcona we are rightly proud of the way our girls have embraced a STEM education. In 2020 we have an exceptionally large number of our Year 12 girls studying Units 3 & 4 Specialist Mathematics – 22%. Indeed 26% of our Year 12s study Physics Units 3 & 4 and 36% study Chemistry Units 3& 4. Traditionally subjects eschewed by girls during their senior years, our students embrace them at a rate at which most girls schools would marvel. But a Strathcona education is about so much more than STEM, as suggested by some recent accolades for some of our 2020 students.
One Strathcona graduate from 2020 (Alicia Tilley) has been selected to perform in Top Class, while two current year 12 students (Maya Fehring and Jeanine Morgan) have been chosen for Top Design and Top Class as part of the VCAA’s prestigious Season of Excellence. Our three students were selected by an independent panel based on their performances and achievements in 2020. Alicia will be performing her VCE Drama solo based on the American heiress Ida Wood who in 1907 moved into the Herald Square Hotel, New York, and remained there locked away from the world for 24 years. Alicia will be performing her work at the Playhouse. Jeanine will be performing at the Melbourne Recital Centre on March 30. She will perform a piece from her VCE Music Performance Pianoforte recital program – Preludio (Fanfare) the first of three movements from Sonatina written in 1998 by Australian composer Sonny Chua (1967 – 2020). Maya created an animation for the title sequence of Alice in Wonderland in her Unit 3 & 4 subject VCE VET Creative Digital Media. Largely working with Adobe, Maya’s work will be exhibited at the Melbourne Museum.
These wonderful achievements are made even more compelling by the fact that these students both undertook and are undertaking such varied academic programs Year 12. In addition to their studies in the Performing and Visual Arts, Alicia, Maya and Jeanine also studied and are studying Specialist Mathematics, Business Management, Accounting, History, Art, Physics and Visual Communication and Design. It’s a good example, perhaps, of the opportunities that exist at Strathcona for our students to explore a wide range of interests at a VCE level.
Indeed, while preparing our young woman for a life of future work and service is important, a valuable education is about so much more than that. Exposure to the great works of culture, art and performance can enrich a student’s understanding of the world and their place within it. As historian W E B Du Bois wrote,
“Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.”
The Performing and Visual Arts are an essential component of a Strathcona education, one that graduates remember long after they have left the gates on Scott Street for the final time.
Head of Humanities and VCE Coordinator