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Asquith Girls 60th Anniversary

26 September 2019

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Energy and Environment) (19:46):Today I acknowledge Asquith Girls High School, which celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year. Over those 60 years Asquith Girls has had a number of hardworking and dedicated teachers and principals who have built the school into the wonderful educational institution that it is today. It is also the support of the local community, parents and students that makes the school even more special. You are not just part of a school, but a family. Asquith Girls High School was born from a need for more high schools to cater for the growing population between Hornsby and the Hawkesbury in the late 1950s. Students at that time had attended the Hornsby Home Science School, which in part was destroyed in the devastating Black Saturday bushfires.

Knowing they needed somewhere for a new high school the department was able to purchase sevenacres in Asquith in 1958. This was the site of the Stokes Orchard and the Victory Dairy. With land acquisition over the next seven years the school was able to double in size to accommodate a school hall and better sports facilities. When it officially opened on 3 February 1959 the 690 students were greeted with rain, mud, rubble and incomplete buildings. The students along with 38 teachers faced only a few complete classrooms. Physical education was taken on the unsealed road at the front of the school and history was taken in the staff room. While they may have been faced with construction the students had modern and new facilities which had not been seen in high schools in Hornsby. Asquith Girls was a trailblazer and continues to be to this day.

The first Principal, Miss Alma Hamilton, set the green school uniform colours, wrote the first school song and wrote the school motto. Some of these have changed over the years but the motto, Learn to Live, is still the same today. I know there are many past Asquith Girls who are proud to have lived under this motto in their time at the school. It did not take long for the school to grow in popularity, with 717 students by the end of the first year and over 1,000 students within two years. The 1960s saw hockey fields and tennis courts installed at the school. The 1970s saw a new science and library block, which included 3,500 new books. In 1984 it was with great pridethat the school opened the hall, which I have spoken in many times since being the member for Hornsby.

However, in 1990 Asquith Girls was rocked by a fire that destroyed the library and with it 20,000 books and staff notes which went back 20 years. Despite the damage to the library and other surrounding buildings Asquith Girls High's spirit was not damaged. They were able to rebuild the library under the guidance of the then Principal, Mr John Johnson. I have visited Asquith Girls High School many times. Each and every time I see teachers who go above and beyond to ensure their students are getting the best possible education. I take this opportunity to thank every teacher, both past and present, who has made Asquith Girls the awesome school it is today. Your dedication to your students has ensured thousands of Asquith Girls High students get the best possible education.

Asquith Girls High School has been a standout in providing exceptional education for all of its students. This has been seen with amazing HSC results. In fact, over the last three consecutive years the school has produced students coming first in the State in individual subjects in the HSC. In 2017 Katherine Tejcek topped the State in business studies and Amy Lewis was selected to perform her individual drama performance at OnSTAGE. Jasmine Morton's industrial technology, multimedia HSC major project was nominated for InTech. And 100 per cent of the HSC dance students nominated for Callback, which is a showcase of HSC dance students. In 2017, 48 students were offered early university entry and 93 per cent of students accessed their first course choice at university. In 2018 Katherine Tejcek again topped the State—this time in community and family studies—and seven out of seven students were accepted by Macquarie University under the Global Leaders Program. Additionally over 33 per cent also received unconditional offers by various universities under the leadership andschools recommendation schemes. The school was also proud in 2018 to have been in the top 150 schools inNew South Wales for the HSC.

This year already a number of drama students have been nominated for possible inclusion in OnSTAGE,which is a selection of performances and individual projects from Higher School Certificate drama students. They include Amanda Bellamy, Sophia Branagh, Miya Handsworth, Sophie Lewis, Grace Steele and Lilly Stephenson. I was impressed to see Sophie Higgs, a year 10 student, participate in the Department of Education Secretary for a Day Program during Education Week this year. She was selected from more than 120 applicants and during her time took part in a number of workshops with education experts.

I congratulate the year 10 debating team who competed in the grand final round of the Premier's Debating Challenge against Northern Beaches Secondary College. I have met many outstanding ex-Asquith Girls Highstudents over the years, including my staffer Heidi Cameron, who works in my electorate office. Her daughter, Hollie, is currently at the school and her mum, Coralie, also attended the school. I also was thrilled to see ex‑Asquith student Julie Attwood doing amazing work for the people of Hornsby through Relay For Life. Asquith Girls ex-students also include artist Fiona Foley, Ann Roberts, who was the first woman to receive the university medal in physics from the University of Sydney, JaneIle Barry, who won the university medal for biomedical science at the University of Technology Sydney, and actor, Diane Craig. I make special mention of the current Principal, Elizabeth Amvrazis. Thank you for your leadership and congratulations to Asquith Girls High for 60 outstanding years of education in our community.