Rollercoaster ride for Katanning’s class of 2020 as top graduates awarded

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseGreat Southern Herald
Katanning Senior High School Best and Brightest ATAR Rotary Dux award winner Ryan Walker and VET award winner Aimee Squibb.
Camera IconKatanning Senior High School Best and Brightest ATAR Rotary Dux award winner Ryan Walker and VET award winner Aimee Squibb. Credit: Putri Taylor/ Palmzy Images

A global pandemic might have threatened to derail their final year of school, but that has not stopped Katanning Senior High School’s graduating class from finishing on a high.

Year 12 students’ successes were celebrated last week at the school’s annual valediction ceremony at the Katanning Town Hall.

Amid the graduates were the school’s two Best and Brightest students, who were honoured for their perseverance and academic achievement amid an unprecedented year.

Gnowangerup’s Ryan Walker, 17, earned the ATAR Rotary Dux Award and Katanning’s Aimee Squibb, 17, won the Vocational Education and Training Award.

When their classes went to remote learning earlier this year, Ryan said he was worried he might have to complete his end of year exams online.

“I found it pretty hard to study by myself because I found myself procrastinating,” he said.

“I think teachers are really helpful and if we had stayed off any longer it could’ve been a lot worse.”

Ryan said it was a relief to be finishing his schooling, but there was still work to be done ahead of his ATAR exams next week.

For other students heading into Year 12, Ryan recommended using every opportunity to study.

“What I did was just study as much as possible,” he said.

“I looked at the syllabus a lot and made sure I was doing everything right, and just keep talking to my teachers.”

Ryan will move to Perth next year to pursue his talent of computer science at university.

Top VET student Aimee will spend the next year working in her home town before studying nursing.

“I’ve always been interested in helping people since a young age,” she said.

Aimee said having to complete school online during the pandemic was a challenge, but it felt good to finally see her hard work pay off.

“We stuck together through the tough and fun times,” she said.

Aimee said missing out on competing one last time in the touch rugby team at Country Week was disappointing.

One of the highlights of the school year for rural students, the competition fell victim to the pandemic.

“We started training and within a week they told us that it was not happening,” she said.

“It is definitely something I look forward to every year.

“You get to hang out with friends for a whole week, play sport and meet new people.”

Aimee said the key to her study success had been keeping a balance, by playing sport and spending time with her friends.

“Focus, have fun and don’t get too caught up trying to get the highest score, just do your best,” she said.

Katanning Senior High School principal Carolyn Cook said Year 12 students had experienced a difficult year.

“They have mostly stayed on task and performed as well as can be expected,” she said.

“We still have students who will sit ATAR exams in the forthcoming weeks and wish them all the best.”

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