Excellence in Co-Curricular

Monday, 19 Jul 2021

Excellence in Sport • Duke of Edinburgh

The Overland Track is Australia's premier alpine walk. But when the weather turns foul, visibility is limited and all around you, helicopters are rescuing hikers from the treacherous conditions you want, Scots teacher and Duke of Edinburgh Award leader, David Edwards in your corner.

A recent group of Scots hikers impressed Cradle Mountain Park angers when they safely completed the Overland Track amid appalling conditions last year. The snow and rain had been incessant; and rangers had been rescuing lost, wet and cold hikers for days.

But the Scots group was as always, prepared for all conditions and were challenged but unconcerned by all the fuss.

“I’ve hiked that track many times and as a group, decisions were made to ensure everyone was safe and navigation was correct,” David said. “I think the kids felt like they were in good hands. The rain was relentless and when it wasn’t raining it was snowing but they were in good spirits, up for the challenge and had the appropriate gear. We were fine.”

The Duke of Edinburgh International Award is a youth development program, empowering all young Australians to explore their full potential and find their purpose, passion and place in the world. It has been running under David’s leadership at Scots for 16 years.

Together with a vast array of other co-curricular choices, the Duke of Edinburgh Award has helped catapult The Scots School Albury on to an elite list of Australia’s top co-curricular programs. The school won the national award for Best Co-curricular Program at the Australian Education Awards this year.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award was founded in 1956 and is about individual challenge, variety of activity, duration, support and teamwork and recognition in four categories: Voluntary Service, Skill, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey. Scots supports all four aspects and David is ably assisted by other Scots staff, primarily Ms Sue Mitchell, to provide a rounded experience. Challenges differ for each individual, but they should require persistence and determination to overcome – traits which are viewed favourably by employers later in life.

La Trobe University Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar is a big fan of the Award program and said students who completed the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award arrived at university with a head start on their peers.

“We can be confident that these students are not only the type of people we want as part of the La Trobe community, but they will be strong candidates for future employers,” he said.

David mentors the Scots students through the three levels of the award – bronze, silver and gold - by monitoring, discussing, encouraging and motivating them to reach their goals. 

He plans about six expeditions a year. He’s trekked the Overland Track five times, been to Annapurna base camp in Nepal with school groups, and regularly hikes the Alpine National Park, Feathertop, Bogong and Jagungal Wilderness tracks in Kosciuszko National Park with students attempting bronze, silver and gold levels. The majority of the trips are over a weekend; an introduction to the Adventurous Journey component of the DoE award. And some of them are much more arduous. The Overland Track is 65km of hiking over six days. Almost half of the track is above 1000 metres in elevation on exposed plateaus in a remote area. 2022 will see an extended adventure on the Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory. Thorough preparation and good gear is always essential. 

David runs briefing sessions for each trip; students plan equipment, understand the route, pack and carry their own food and water and make most of the decisions on the ground. They build up from weekend adventures in all kinds of weather to longer, more arduous treks that require months of planning and meticulous preparation.

David’s passion for the outdoors makes him the ideal leader of the DoE program. He gives up his weekends and school holidays to take students on expeditions, allowing countless students over the years to complete the Adventurous Journey component of the award.

But in truth, David loves it. He rarely hikes alone and enjoys the total experience of hiking in remote and rugged wilderness areas: the challenge, the solitude and the physical benefits. But what really drives his passion for the Duke of Edinburgh is witnessing students accomplish what they never thought they could.

“We are taking young adults on an adventure,” he said. “The overarching aspect is that these kids are capable of so much more than we ever give them credit for. And to see them when they experience hard-earned success, well that’s enough for anyone.”

In 2021 and despite COVID restrictions and lockdowns, 4 expeditions were undertaken to assist participants achieve award success.

Those who complete their Gold Award join an elite group of young adults who receive their Gold Award Certificates from the Vice-Regal Patron of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Australia (NSW Division), The Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, at Government House.

David couldn’t be prouder of all that step up to the challenge!

Excellence in Music • Drum Teacher

The talents of  Drumming Teacher Tom Mewett have catapulted The Scots School Albury Pipe Band onto the international stage and into the minds of Australian Education Awards judges who recently named Scots as the national winner in the category of Best Co-Curricular Program.

Although the award recognition was for the depth and breadth of the entire co-curricular program at Scots, the Pipe Band is one of Scots’ most high profile co-curricular programs and its members have achieved astonishing success on the national and international stage. 

And the driving force behind the band’s drummers is drum teacher Tom Mewett.

Tom started at Scots as a visiting snare drum teacher for Pipe Band students in 2009. For years he commuted from Bendigo for the part-time role which he managed in tandem with teaching the drums at other schools in Bendigo.

Tom made the leap and moved to Albury in 2017 just before the Pipe Band went overseas to represent the School at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He has built up such a following of drumming students that he is now forced to limit the number of new students he can take on with a view to maintaining quality of tuition rather than quantity. But Tom is practiced at navigating a busy life.

As a schoolboy in Bendigo, he teamed with his three best mates to form a rock band called Sender. Despite their tender age, the band members performed gigs all over Victoria – probably one of the few bands that arrived at gigs with their parents because none had their driving licence. Their success grew and they were signed by Sony Music in 2003 and released an EP in 2004. They toured up and down the East Coast supporting such big names as Screaming Jets and Killing Heidi. In 2004, during the Athens Olympics they went on a whirlwind three-day, three state tour with Hoobastank, playing in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney on consecutive nights.

Their Sony record deal finished in 2006 and in 2010 they independently released an LP titled No Way Out which is still available on Spotify.

Tom’s passion now lies in passing on his knowledge to his students and many have achieved amazing success. In 2018, Scots’ Indyana Bridgman was the first Australian school student to win a World Solo Drumming Championship when she competed in the Juvenile category at the titles in Glasgow. In the same event, her teammates Damon Wright and Lachlan Coe finished fourth and seventh respectively. 

And just last year, Indyana won the Australian Young Tenor Drummer of the Year while Lachlan won the Australian Young Snare Drummer of the Year at the national competition for under-18 year olds.

A highlight for all involved in the Scots Pipe Band, including Tom, was performing at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2017 - a performance so outstanding that they received a follow-up invitation which they unfortunately could not fulfil because of Covid.

Excellence in Technology • VEX Robots, Astronomy & the International SpaceCRAFT Challenge

Scots has been named as the national winner of the Best Co-curricular Program at the 2021 Australian Education Awards thanks to the School’s program across Sports, Performing Arts, Technology and Service Learning. In recent years, the School has increased its focus and opportunities in Technology, led by our Head of Technology and Innovation Brad Murphy.

This year Brad is bringing the International SpaceCRAFT Challenge to Scots in September; the only school in the region to offer the virtual program involving astronauts, scientists and engineers who are directly involved in ongoing missions.

The Challenge has Brad, a high-level Physics teacher, bursting with excitement. He is already making plans to lead a tour of students to NASA sometime in the next few years (although we’re not sure he’s run that passed the school leaders) such is his enthusiasm for his field.

Get him started talking about VEX IQ robots, which he offers through the co-curricular program to Year 5-8 students, and his plans to introduce VEX V5 robots for the older students; or his astronomy co-curricular activity, where students tap into telescopes in Hawaii, Chile, South Africa, China and the US, and be prepared to be swept up by his passion!

Brad has been teaching for 25 years and has a Masters in Astronomy and a Masters of ICT and Education. He rattles off terminology such as ephemerides, nebula star cluster, spiral galaxy, Baily’s Beads, asterism and occultation like they are everyday terms, but now his students know what they mean too.

During the astronomy course, students use planetarium software to find astronomical objects and research the characteristics of it before eventually recording an image of it. In the process they learn when and where it is visible in the sky, whether it’s a northern or southern hemisphere sighting and how frequently it appears.

They can “book in” to use a telescope located somewhere around the world to get their astronomical image to which they apply the relevant red, blue and green filters in consultation with astronomers who manage the telescopes. Did you know that astronomical images are always sourced in black and white? The colour that we see comes from the filters that astronomers apply. True fact.

As part of a mission team in the International SpaceCRAFT Challenge, students will design spacecraft, navigate to another planet, land their vehicle, build a planetary habitat and explore a new planet to find resources in order to sustain human life.

They will receive lessons on topics ranging from planetary science to spacecraft systems, orbital mechanics to robotic exploration – all presented in an understandable level for students.

This is only a taste of the things to come in Technology at Scots, thanks to Brad’s passion and leadership.

Excellence in Sport • Equestrian

Scots alumna Teegan Ashby was Long-Listed for the Australian Eventing team for the 2016 Rio Olympics and has been a driving force behind the School’s equestrian program since 2012.

Each year before The Scots School Albury Interschool Equestrian Challenge, which is a qualifying event for the Victorian Interschool State Championships, Teegan has coached at the School’s equestrian training days.

The professional eventing rider provides recommendations on event selection, coaches students while they run through their dressage test and complete a jumping round, and offers tips for improving their ringcraft and presentation. Teegan is a highly sought-after coach for all three disciplines of Eventing – dressage, showjumping and cross country – and members of the Scots Equestrian Team are privileged to receive her expertise and guidance.

Teegan’s best individual Eventing result has been a second, by a fraction of a second, in the 3* at the Australian International Horse Trials in Adelaide in 2019 aboard the promising but sometimes difficult mount Waitangi Password. The combination had previously tasted success at the 3* Melbourne International three-day in 2018. Teegan is now bringing on youngsters alongside a talented Off The Track Thoroughbred called Magic Mushroom, all of whom are being prepared for the Wallaby Hill three-day-event in December.

Teegan made the Olympics Long List aboard Rockingham No Reason, aka Boris, and it was aboard the big bay that she also made the Australian Young Rider winning team for the Oceania Challenge in 2014.  She represented Scots at NSW and Victorian Interschools State Championships from 2007 to 2011. Unfortunately, an injury Boris sustained in winning the 2* eventing at NSW interschools in 2012 meant they could not compete in their other events that year. Luckily she was able to purchase the beautiful grey Marlo Benny from another Scots family, Sara Love, to compete in the Victorian Interschools Championships in 2012 while waiting for Boris to recover.

Father, Warwick, was an original Scots Equestrian committee member and Teegan joined the committee in 2013 after leaving Scots at the end of 2012. Mother, Helen, joined the committee in 2019, but has now volunteered at every Scots Equestrian event since its inception.

The high calibre of the Scots Equestrian Program as part of the School’s co-curricular program is undisputed. The School was recently named the national winner in the category of Best Co-curricular Program at the 2021 Australian Education Awards.

Excellence in Sport • Basketball

Elite basketballer, Bailey Lloyd, young-gun guard for the local Border Bandits team, brings a new level of expertise to the Scots Basketball co-curricular program with a focus on establishing good foundations for future success. More than half of the entire school population is involved in Bailey’s basketball program and Scots is the largest club of the Albury competition, with teams in every age category.

Bailey directly coaches five teams, trains two more and all teams attend a special coaching session on a rolling roster every Friday. In addition, he mentors the coaches so that the message to students at any year level will be consistent and builds progressively year on year.

Bailey, 21, was born in Sydney, grew up in West Wyalong and attended senior school in Wagga before being recruited to play at the Bandits.

The 201cm guard has big plans for Scots basketballers, including representation at Combined Independent School and Australian Schools competitions, exposure to US collegiate basketball and a verified pathway for elite players.

But it all starts with good, strong foundations and age-appropriate instruction. Focusing on basic ball handling skills and footwork plus promoting a love of the game is his main aim at the youngest age level in Scots Hoops. Conceptual aspects such as floor spacing, game awareness and decision making are introduced in the older year levels but a focus on the fundamentals is always one of Bailey’s priorities – whatever the age of the athlete. His coaching style is based on the model promoted by Basketball NSW with the obvious advantage that students adapt easily to coaching in local representative teams or at regional and state level.

With Bailey at the helm, Scots basketball is in good hands.

The high calibre of Scots Basketball as part of the School’s co-curricular program is undisputed. The School was recently named national winner in the category of Best Co-curricular Program at the 2021 Australian Education Awards.