Somerset Lifetimes 2020

SOMERSET F I F T Y F I F T H E D I T I O N | 2 0 2 0

Contents 3 From the Headmaster 6 Somerset@Home - Learning During a Pandemic 8 Somerset@Home - A Student Perspective 18 Blaze Aid 20 Tribute to Founding Teacher 23 New Staff 24 Staff Updates - Babies 25 The Alumni Chapter - Volume 2, 2020 26 Alumni Updates - Aptly Awarded Alumna Receives Royal Recognition INSIDE THIS ISSUE

27 Alumni Updates - Former Student Researches Covid Vaccine 29 Alumni Updates - Babies 30 Alumni Updates - Achievements 31 Alumni - A Few Years Down the Track 34 Alumni Staff - Forrest Butcher (Class of 1994)

10 Innovative Junior Spaces 12 Cover Story - Art Drives Reconciliation 14 Junior School Musical - Peter Pan 16 House Plays 2020 Information Somerset Lifetimes is published twice a year by Somerset College to share items of topical interest relating to overall activities of College life and the greater Somerset community. Cover Photo: The article on page 12, Art as a Vehicle of Reconciliation explains the background to this art featured in a new meeting space as part of the newly constructed Aitkenhead Building. Editor: Narelle Higgs

Contributing Photographers: Paul Broben, Mick Kirby, Kate Grigg Acknowledgements: Thank you to Tayla Haynes for assisting in layout and to Linda Keefer, Wendy Bacon and John Bacon for their review and editing assistance.

Layout: Narelle Higgs Contributing Writers:

Craig Bassingthwaighte, Jenna Goldie, Georgina Powell, Rebecca Collie, Jacinta Mai, Allison Foster, Kate Grigg, Brad Walker, Bev Gallus, Julia Crilly, Larisa Labzin, Julian Van der Waal, Forrest Butcher

Somerset Alumni Association All students become life members of the Somerset Alumni Association, founded in shared experience and comradery. The Association seeks to create, nurture, and grow positive and mutually beneficial associations within the College community.

All College alumni can access the Association, simply visit us on any of our networks. This network is your network, so come and join us! For further information regarding the Association, please contact our Community Relations Office: Instagram: @ReturnToSomerset | Facebook: /ReturnToSomerset | Linkedin: /in/ReturnToSomerset | Web: | Email: Phone: 07 5559 7100 Mail: Community Relations Office Somerset College Somerset Drive Mudgeeraba Qld 4213

The Association also provides all members with a copy of the College’s annual Somerset Lifetimes publication, and works to contact our many Association members with information about upcoming events and engagement opportunities.



Headmaster FROM THE

Craig Bassingthwaighte Headmaster It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. So begins the Dickens Classic, The Tale of Two Cities. More than a few years ago, he perfectly described the experience of this year. As I write, we are still betwixt the best and the worst, between belief and incredulity. I hope that when you read this, the best and the belief are clearer. We have tried to capture something of that experience below. What is certain is the only thing that matters, the Somerset Community emerged stronger having faced this adversity. It will continue to be an interesting journey made infinitely easy by those who share the load. COVID-19

On 27 January we posted our first notice to parents and caregivers with information about the Coronavirus. On 22 May, we welcomed our students back to the College. In that time, we followed the advice provided by the Queensland Government and Queensland Health, sharing relevant information with the College community when updates were available. The College Board supported my recommendation to provide financial assistance to families by way of a significant discount on fees for Term Two. Casual staff were paid for shifts that were cancelled until the end of Term One while the JobKeeper Scheme was initiated for all staff. We provided supervision for students of parents who are essential workers. Online learning was investigated and Somerset@Home was born. Teaching staff were educated in the use of

From the Headmaster


Zoom technology and classes resumed online. To say Somerset@Home was very successful is an understatement; the programme will lead to new initiatives in teaching and learning at Somerset. The staff have been instrumental in the success of the programme.


Headmaster FROM THE


After 25 years of outstanding leadership and service, including 11 years as Deputy Head, six years as Deputy – Academic and eight years as Dean of Studies, Dr Michael Brohier retired July 2020. Dr Brohier has served the College wonderfully well in so many ways, establishing programmes that enhanced the student experience. Dr Brohier was Chair of the Somerset Celebration of Literature, building that signature Somerset event into the citywide festival we call Storyfest. He was integral in the establishment of the IBDP here at Somerset, a first for Queensland and one of the leaders in Australia. The introduction of the Diploma further solidified Somerset’s reputation as an academic leader and innovator. In recognition of his service, I am delighted the Board has agreed to my suggestion the Senior Learning Centre be renamed The Dr Michael Brohier Learning Centre.

Dr Brohier farewelling Year 12s in assembly

On a personal note, I want to thank Dr Brohier for his loyalty, support and friendship over the past 12 years. His passion for Somerset has benefitted our students, our parents and ourselves. Dr Brohier is much loved because of his holistic approach to life and I have learnt much from him. I am sure that you will join with me in wishing Dr and Mrs Brohier all the best as Dr Brohier transitions to a well-deserved retirement. I have been able to twist his arm and Dr Brohier will continue his work with Wordsmiths and Storyfest. We will ensure that there are appropriate times for members of the College community to come together to celebrate Dr Brohier’s wonderful contribution.

From the Headmaster



We are delighted to have recruited such an experienced educational leader especially with diverse expertise in curriculum and pastoral leadership. I’m sure you will join in extending our congratulations to Mr Brice on his appointment and welcoming him, Lani, Parker and Harry to Somerset next year.

After an extensive search and more than 40 applications from all around the world, I was delighted to announce Mr Nicholas (Nick) Brice, B Ed, B Arts will commence as our fourth Deputy Head of College on 1 January 2021.


Mr Brice is currently the Head of Senior School at Pulteney Grammar School in Adelaide. Mr Brice is a member of the School’s Executive Team with responsibility for both Pastoral and Academic programmes in Years 10, 11 and 12. He previously was responsible for the Middle Years Programme at Concordia College before becoming Head of Senior School at Pulteney Grammar School. Mr Brice commenced his career in education at Mercedes College as an English, History and Christian Studies teacher in the Middle and Secondary Schools. He continued learning his craft and being exposed to good practice at Eynesbury Senior College and Concordia College. Mr Brice has presented at past AHISA National Conferences on revitalising Pastoral Care. In his current role, he mentors students and staff in collecting and collating academic and well-being data to develop individual student support strategies. Mr Brice writes in his application of the “opportunity to positively represent and serve the College, to help young men and women achieve their academic, emotional and relational best. The position excites me as it encompasses my true passion within education”. Mr Brice has a partner, Ms Lani Chin, and they have two young sons, Parker and Harrison (Harry).

Storyfest@Home will run for two days 16 to 17 September for Somerset students only.

We will hold as much of Founders’ Day as we possibly can on Friday 18 September, the last day of Term Three.

From the Headmaster

The Celebration of Entrepreneurship will proceed on 13 and 14 October in a reduced capacity with limited outside attendees. The focus will be on Somerset Alumni and feature a presentation by Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur. The Senior Ball will be held on Friday 9 October. Though we have had to cancel many events, there were some that refused to be corona affected!





As we transitioned to Somerset@ Home, Schoolbox moved to become the classroom “space” and its usage expanded across all areas of College life. The amazing statistics below tell the story of maintaining relationships, connection and academic rigour during this time. Behind each of these numbers and these activities are our teachers and students, hard at work sharing, caring, learning, giving feedback and communicating. Our platform has supported the student-teacher relationships at this time and allowed us to keep connected and engaged. During Somerset@Home, we had: • 2,961- Blog Posts

We saw teachers confidently zooming, screen-casting, creating videos, blogging and reverse engineering their teaching to adapt to the new environment - so much agility in an uncertain time. They were supported by amazing teacher assistants and the IT team, lead superbly by Ms Lisa Thomson, Dean of Information Technologies. We have seen students respond to new ways of working and learning, communicate with their teachers and collaborate with peers online, take responsibility for organisation and time management, share insights into their lives and continue to build relationships. They’ve learnt and exhibited so many fantastic 21st Century skills during this time.

• 3,692 - Quiz Attempts • 6,743 - Zoom Sessions

• 25,098 - Due Work Submitted • 26,420 - Clickview Video Views • 39,208 - Social Stream Posts



And to wrap up, for the statistic lovers amongst us, those 6743 zoom sessions have equated to 2,914,08 minutes of Zoom or 5.5 years of meetings with 159,945 participants. That is a lot of face time and a lot of hellos and goodbyes. During our special offer of food and drinks from the Bird and Bush from 27 April to 22 May we provided: • 2439 Barista made (staff coffees) – making it an average of 129 x $1.00 coffee caffeine hits per day. Compared to normal stats of 78 coffees. • 500 Staff meals were freshly made – making it an average of 125 x staff members utilised our $10.00 weekly meal offer. • 46/116 Year 12 students had Mr B’s Mad Welcome Back Lunch in their first week back to the College, and; • 1033 combined Morning Tea and Online Lunches were purchased by Junior School students. Craig Bassingthwaighte Headmaster






Photos: Paul Broben

At our Investiture Service in February, we said that never in our lives will we be surrounded by so many people who are dedicated to our success, and in these unprecedented times, this statement couldn’t be more true. To say that we are grateful for everything the school has prepared for us to continue our academics through online learning is an understatement. While Zooming isn’t particularly the first thing you think of when someone says Senior year, it has been a huge success in its own regard. We can speak for many of our peers when we say that you can still have fun, laugh and learn even in an online environment. Also, if our calculations are correct, we have kept the Senior Learning Centre kitchen spotless, I mean absolutely spotless, for over a month now! What an achievement! I think that deserves a prize, maybe a ping pong table, not sure. But probably a ping pong table. Senior cohorts around the world have all faced the same challenges but the

ways in which we have handled and overcome these are a true testament to the strength and unity of our cohort who we are lucky enough to still have at the push of a button. We particularly want to thank Mrs Crowley and Mrs Cornell for everything they have organised for us throughout these weeks and checking in on how we are all going. If we could get through this, we can get through anything together. Somerset has always been a busy place, teeming with eager students, loving teachers and so many wonderful people. Whilst the College grounds might seem somewhat eerie at the moment, the bustling and lively atmosphere that is Somerset College is now being experienced a whole lot more virtually. We can’t say we were ever expecting to bump into our siblings this often at lunch time and online schooling is certainly not how we were expecting senior year to pan out, but we truly are glad that we are all able to be in this together (but ironically apart) during these certainly interesting times. The holidays and school feel like they’ve been overlapping each other for a while now and it’s great having all this extra time… for Netflix and the immense amount of exercise we’ve totally been doing, but we do miss the feeling of being within 1.5m of another human being – although we don’t really remember what it’s like anymore! When they said technology was the future, we’re not



sure if this is what they meant, but to be safe and healthy during this situation makes us realise just how fortunate we are. Still being able to learn effectively and see our classmates and teachers is a reflection of the staff’s dedication to our success, and most importantly, the IT department that managed to get the majority of our entire schooling lives into the virtual universe as quickly as they did. The fact that our teachers, in particular our spectacular Heads of Houses and Year Level Coordinators, are so willing to reach out to us and make sure we’re all travelling (emotionally, not literally!) well, confirms that Somerset is truly a wonderful place to be, because “Somerset” isn’t our beautiful campus, but the kind hearts of those who are proud enough to call it home.

Jenna Goldie and Georgina Powell Year 12 - Franklin House Captain and College Captain



Spaces INNOVATIVE JUNIOR JUNIOR SCHOOL’S NEW AITKENHEAD BUILDING We have been incredibly excited with the addition of the new

Aitkenhead Building to the Junior School. As a Junior School team we designed a building for all of our students to enjoy throughout their years in the Junior School.

The downstairs Moses classrooms create a Specialist Hub, with state of the art Music and Technology facilities as well as the addition of a STEM and Art room on the other side, which will be equipped with cooking and maker space resources for students to utilise for their Units of Inquiry from Pre-Prep to Year 6. The Languages Hub is close by on the top level of The Lamb Building. There are plenty of display cabinets outside our specialist classrooms to feature student work for all to see. Outside the Moses classrooms students can enjoy time relaxing in the Piazza, or racing down the slide or having a yarn in the yarning circle, with beautiful images always displayed on the large LED screen. Our Year 4 and 5 classrooms on the top level are spacious, with plenty of room for storage and displays for students. The views from the top level are spectacular.

10 Innovative Junior Spaces

We love the way that the Aitkenhead Building is central to the Junior School and allows a flow from Year 3 in the Rowe Building through to Year 6 in the Brown Building. We are all connected!

We are proud of what we have achieved with the architectural

design of The Aitkenhead Building bringing together the beauty of all the surrounding buildings and spaces at the College. Rebecca Collie Head of Junior School

Innovative Junior Spaces


Reconciliation ART DRIVES

THE YARNING CIRCLE Over a long weekend in May,

local indigenous and established artist, Ms Narelle Urquhart and her daughter Jessica, collaborated with four Art Committee students and facilitated by Mr Brad Walker to complete a reconciliation project in our Yarning Circle, under the new Aitkenhead Building. Marcus Ibsen, Nicholas Tan, Darcy Beynon and I painted and yarned with Narelle and Jessica. We loved being able to hear about Narelle’s journey from childhood to now and learn about the importance of reconciliation. This beautiful artwork about Indigenous and non-Indigenous people coming together further extends the amazing work many students have achieved on the College’s Barambah and Myall Creek trips. Narelle, an Indigenous engagement office at Bond University told the Gold Coast Bulletin in a feature for this year’s National Reconciliation Week the Yarning Circle (Tuesday 2 June, 2020) “This painting represents Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

Art Drives Reconciliation

Student Jacinta Mai with artist Narelle Urquhart. Photo Tertius Pickard


coming together in reconciliation from the Gold Coast and beyond. By working together to build a stronger future we will bear good fruit for generations to come. “Having this artwork in the yarning circle brings a place that students and staff can reflect on First Nations people and to consider their part in bringing friendship and healing by coming together.” The art reflects the theme of National Reconciliation Week, In This Together and represents the area surrounding the College. The visual shows the Hinterland and its mountains, to the city skyline, Mount Warning and the fish in the waterways all around. It’s hoped the Yarning Circle is a safe place for students and staff to come together and respectfully discuss matters extending from the classroom where we can learn and build upon existing relationships. Jacinta Mai Academic Captain

Art Drives Reconciliation


PETER PAN When rehearsals started on the first day of the school year for the age- old tale of Peter Pan , our cast felt a sense of magic in the air. After only seven short weeks of rehearsals, the global pandemic forced the unfortunate decision to cancel the scheduled performances of the Junior School Musical. After all the hard work and effort that the cast and crew had contributed we The cast was so excited to have the opportunity to perform and were very grateful to our Headmaster Mr Craig Bassingthwaighte and other members of staff who spared their time throughout the day to provide a small audience for the students. A huge thank you must go to Head of the Junior School, Musical JUNIOR SCHOOL didn’t want to see it all go to waste. With a time frame of five days we decided “the show must go on” in a sense. With the full support of staff, students and parents we were able to pull some magic strings and run a full day rehearsal/ performance with amazing costumes and mountains of energy.

Photos: Paul Broben and Kate Grigg

Junior School Musical


Rebecca Collie who without her support, this amazing opportunity would not be possible. She has helped to make our dreams come true, when we wished hard enough. Thank you to the cast, crew, production team, backstage and entire company for your hard work putting this show together. It has been a joy to watch the students develop their skills and a lot of fun! Their enthusiasm and energy is our inspiration. Kate Grigg Teacher - Junior School

Junior School Musical



PLAYS - 2020


five entertaining, impressive pieces of theatre and their talented casts, who worked tirelessly this term. The passion, energy and commitment of Mrs Anna D’Arcy, Assistant Head of Department – Performing Arts is enviable and her support, advice and guidance made the Festival one to remember. The Technical Services Crew provided much appreciated assistance throughout the process also. Thank you to staff who assisted during the Festival, providing such wonderful encouragement to our actors. Allison Foster Head of Senior School

DRAMA FESTIVAL The House Play Festival

celebrated its 30 th year in 2020 and the audience was treated to two spectacular evenings of performance, punctuated by laughter, energy and House Spirit. Actor and Playwright, Merlynn Tong was tasked with the almost impossible, deciding the major awards of the evening and the Overall Triumphant House Play. Starkey performed Heaven Can Wait , Laver, The Bible in 30 Minutes or Less , Veivers, Compass , Franklin, Did Someone Say Bingo? , and Andrews, Back to Reality . After much deliberation, Starkey House was announced as the best Overall Play and Laver House won the Adjudicator’s Award for their ensemble work. Outstanding Actor awards were presented to Calvin Walther, Ella Stewart, Mitchell Wuth and Ella Kirk. Thanks must go to the House Play Directors for their co-ordination of

House Plays 2020


House Plays 2020




REBUILDING FENCES, REBUILDING LIVES The idea of losing all your worldly possessions is a devastating one but one that always seems distant and unimaginable. However, over summer of 2019/2020, due to the devastating fires that burned across Australia, this seemingly implausible event occurred for many Australians, some of whom were our farmers. In times like this, when our primary producers are hurting so much after long periods of dry, it is crucial we band together as a community to help and support them. One such group, is BlazeAid. The volunteer- based organisation helps families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters. The everyday people who volunteer for BlazeAid, work alongside landowners to rebuild fences and structures that have been damaged or destroyed and in doing so, rebuild their livelihoods. An equally important consequence of BlazeAid are volunteers who lift spirits

of those living in these disaster-affected areas. Eight Somerset students embarked on a journey to Nymboida, New South Wales in late January, to lend a hand to those people whose lives had been turned upside-down by the fires in November, 2019. We departed the Gold Coast hoping we could help those affected rebuild; however, by the time we returned home we realised the experience had achieved so much more. On the first day of the rebuild, we were faced with reconstructing a 150 metre stretch of fence on a generous incline, testing the fittest in the group. By the end of the day ‘the hill’ as it became known, had all given us a decent workout. Water bottles were in high demand. We were told the only people to admire a fence are those who build it. It’s true. It was a good-looking fence! Over lunch and a chat, we realised our presence among the broken community was more powerful than any ‘manpower’ we could have provided. Our youthful company brightened their day. Smiles were infectious. Although new to fence building, under the watch of our BlazeAid mentor Zol, and landowner Joe, we quickly learned the ropes to continue the next 350 metres. At the end of the day we had constructed a 500 metre fence using both barbed and normal wire. Rest and recreation was well earned by mid-Saturday afternoon; a side-trip to Red Rock for a swim was just what we needed. In this pristine waterway, we floated down the river before filling

Blaze Aid


ourselves up with way too many delicious potato scallops from the local Fisho. That evening with our new friends, we concluded with a concert bringing the volunteers together in a sense of camaraderie. Many other members of the community joined in as we sang well-known songs to lift morale. Many life lessons were learned that weekend, like the joys of a hard day’s work, which I’m sure we will take into our future lives. We left knowing our presence (and muscle) had helped property owners Joe and Mary who were certainly doing it tough like so many around Australia. Our thoughts go out to all who were impacted. The experience would not have been possible without the generosity of spirit from Mr Brad walker and Mrs Clare Walker who also gave up their weekend not just to drive the 550 kilometre round trip but to help open our eyes to the full impact bush fires have on communities. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to have helped-out in this time of need. Isla Clancy and Jack Luke-Paredi Service Captains

Blaze Aid


BEV BIDS FAREWELL Teacher TRIBUTE TO FOUNDING teacher to Head of House - Laver to Senior Mistress to Deputy Head and finally, completing the full circle, Chemistry teacher. The staff are supportive and friendly and the students, in the main, are delightful to teach. My rewards have been many but the biggest reward is when a past student thanks me for the influence I had on their lives.

Retirement has not been as different as I expected it to be, thanks to Covid-19. As I live with my daughter I was homeschooling my grandson who is 12 and my granddaughter who is nearly 15. When that is finished for the day I garden, do crosswords and other brain games or knit trauma teddies for Red Cross and blanket squares for other charities. Now homeschooling is finished, I do miss it. I think it will be some time before my retirement will include going back to the gym and enjoying outings with other past Somerset staff. Joining a choir and a Mahjong group are also on my bucket list. Bev Gallus Former Founding Teacher of Somerset College

Why did I stay at Somerset College for 37 years? The answer is simple. I have been blessed to have a job that I was happy to come to every day and the good health to allow me to do it. My job changed continually from Maths

Tribute to Founding Teacher


Bev Galls with alumni at the 2018 Alumni Renunion Weekend

The “Pinkies” immediately spring to mind! In the days before electronic supervision sheets, these were pink supervision sheets (fondly known as “pinkies”) that Bev would carefully organise in countless piles around the shelves in her room (how she did this on a Camp Week still beats me!) and put into pigeon holes each morning. I have memories of myself and other teachers hovering behind her - very politely of course – with tension and expectation, hoping we wouldn’t get one, while she very calmly and professionally placed them in each pigeon hole.

One Constant

Bev Gallus is an inspirational teacher. The rapport she had with students was genuine, nurturing, contagious and above all underpinned by the passion she had for great teaching and maximising student learning in her class. Bev Gallus may have been diminutive in size, but a giant in the class room. Her Chemistry knowledge so vast, and her patience with her students so broad. As a team member, her extensive experience over the years was invaluable and as an advocate for positive change she was always at the front-line, rising to new challenges. Bev’s legacy lives on through during her time at the College. Somerset College was blessed to have had Bev Gallus as an integral member of its community. the numerous Somerset Teachers that she taught

When I think of Bev, I visualise her steady gait, Kind demeanour, And her strength in the face of All sorts of adversity. I see commitment to a cause, To her love of Chemistry, And the scores of students Who flourished under her wing, And still do! I see the one constant in the face of unrelenting change, At least for a time, Bev, A teacher, Cut from a different tartan cloth, Steady, reliable, The engine room of the school, (In her time), Once encountered, never forgotten!

- Helen Moffat t Teacher

Bev was a wonderful colleague and the ultimate professional. It was a privilege to work with her. I don’t remember anyone ever disagreeing with Bev or speaking ill of her. Her quiet, calm and polite demeanour was her tower of strength.

- Christine Wylie Teacher

Tribute to Founding Teacher

- Michael Brohier Deputy Headmaster

-Andrew Wrigley Teacher



To sum up Bev Gallus in a few short sentences is a very difficult thing to do. Bev, in her various roles at the College, was always warm, quick to laugh at funny situations (especially if she was involved), empathetic and understanding but definitely displayed a firm hand when direction was needed and ultimately always a lady. I could not have asked for a better role model for my early years of teaching and I regret not having learnt even more from her. Bev always had the respect of everyone she dealt with, the school community, the staff and the students. Her rapport with students is enviable - what other staff member had their own rapper name – Bevy G!

A few years ago, we had a coaching system introduced whereby we would observe and provide feedback to teachers in other faculties. I was paired with Bev. I felt silly trying to think of ways to suggest that she could improve! Anyway, we went along with it. The thing that stayed with me was her tremendous classroom presence and the respect that her students had for her.

- Chris Enwright Teacher

-Sue Roberts Head of Performing Arts

I have had the honour and privilege of working closely beside Bev since 2010. Professionally, Bev believed in me and helped me develop confidence in my ability, inspiring me to take on all opportunities and to always set high standards for myself to achieve. Personally, Bev supported me through challenging personal struggles encouraging me to always be optimistic. Whilst, I can not thank Bev enough for her support as a colleague, it is her friendship that I will always be most thankful for.

I didn’t work with Bev for long, just one year. I wished it had been for longer. I found her to be a very honourable person who worked hard for each of her students until her very last day of school. I hope to sustain this kind of effort in my own career. The kind of teacher that younger teachers can look up to. I hope you are enjoying a well-earned retirement.

- Lisa Beere Head of House - Veivers

- Rob Hughes Teacher

Tribute to Founding Teacher 22

Staff NEW

Nick Scot t Teacher - Junior School (Year 2) I have been teaching for seven years, having taught all classes from Prep to Year 6. I grew up in Geelong and spent lots of time playing outdoors with my three brothers before moving to the Gold Coast nine years ago. I also have a baby sister, Ella, who turned 1 in November 2019. I am a sports fan, particularly AFL and Football, and I passionately support North Melbourne and Liverpool. I currently still play AFL for the Surfers Paradise Demons. We managed to win the premiership in 2019 and I represented Queensland in a state game. I am a very passionate learner and I have completed university degrees in commerce, psychology as well as teaching. I love teaching all subjects and always look to make learning fun, interesting and challenging.

Georgia Skinner Teacher - Junior School (Year 3) I was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia at a very young age. It was in Queensland where I completed my Bachelor of Education at Griffith University. I was heavily involved in many sports growing up in particular touch football, where I represented Queensland for many years. Over time I became more interested in coaching and assisting young players to develop their skills and love for the game. I am excited to be coaching Touch Football this year at Somerset College. As well as my love for sport, I have a passion for wellbeing and positive education. I am excited to begin my Master of Education (Wellbeing and Positive Mental Health) this year.

New Staff




On 9 February 2020 Patrick and Sarah George, and big sister Laila, welcomed Rhett Glenn Sylvester George.

Matilda Ruth Henderson born 1 May 2020. A daughter for Melissa Black and Chris Henderson

Jakob Matthew Beere born 10 December 2019, measuring 49cm and weighing 3.95kg. A son for Lisa and Timothy and a little brother for Joshua and Lachlan Beere.

Staff Updates

Bianca and Tory Hipperson welcomed twin boys and brothers for Aria on 20 March 2020. Born two minutes apart, Nate Ryder weighed 2.4kg and Noah Cruz weighed 2.83kg.

Harvey John Scott born 30 April 2020, measuring 56.5cm and weighing 3.73kg. A son for Nick and Caitlin Scott


V O L U M E 2 , 2 0 2 0


The Alumni Chapter



APTLY AWARDED ALUMNA RECEIVES ROYAL RECOGNITION Julia Crilly OAM Class of 1994 Making a difference in the worst day of a person’s life is what motivates Somerset College alumna, Julia Crilly (Class of 1994). As a Professor of Emergency Care in a joint appointment between Gold Coast Health and Griffith University, Julia has this year been recognised for the difference she has made to the lives of those she cares for. At the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours list, Julia was awarded the esteemed, Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to emergency care nursing. On being awarded such a high honour, Julia says, “I am truly humbled and honoured. To me, this is a reflection

Source: Gold Coast Health.

of the many outstanding individuals I have had the opportunity to work with over the past two decades who deserve much credit here. The support from my colleagues, friends, and family (mother Liz, father Ross, and brother Nick) has been instrumental. I am thankful to the people who took the time to nominate me and to the Governor-General for approving the award.” The global pandemic highlighted to the world the tireless work front line health care workers carry out, each day. Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin (Meet the woman changing the face of Gold Coast healthcare, 27 June 2020), Julia says, “Nurses have an inherent interest in wanting to help others – at times like this it’s what we do – so it’s so nice to see the community appreciate that.” She continued, “An important part of my role is to encourage and support others, to mentor them to think critically and seek out the best evidence that’s out there and apply it to their clinical practice so we’re delivering the best care to our patients.” Julia Crilly demonstrates the Somerset College values, nurturing individuals who maintain a global outlook and achieve personal success.

The Alumni Chapter


V O L U M E 2 , 2 0 2 0

FORMER STUDENT RESEARCHES COVID VACCINE Larisa Labzin Class of 2002 Being a scientist has meant I have been able to travel a lot, which ironically was my main goal after school. I used my PhD to be able to travel around Europe and to attend many great conferences in different places. Scientifically one of my highlights was my PhD research which discovered how high density lipoprotein (aka the good cholesterol) is anti-inflammatory. After my PhD I was awarded two fellowships to move to Cambridge in the United Kingdom to work at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB). I studied how the inflammation triggered by viruses differs if you’re vaccinated against the virus. The LMB is one of the most prestigious research institutions in the world; it was officially the Laboratory where James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA back in the ‘50s. While there, two scientists were awarded Nobel Prizes for their work, Richard Henderson in 2017 and Gregory Winter in 2018. Living in Cambridge for three years, being able to meet great people, be immersed and perform outstanding science was a fantastic time in my career. When I returned to Australia in September 2019, I returned to UQ, at the IMB. I currently work with some fantastic scientists to understand how viruses trigger inflammation. We are now working to understand how SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 triggers inflammation, so we can understand why some people are getting so sick with COVID-19 and to develop better ways to treat it. The immune response is really complex and this pandemic has highlighted just how much we don’t know about the immune response to different viruses. If we want to quickly and safely develop an effective vaccine, understanding what the ‘right’ immune response is really important. My path to becoming an immunologist was not a direct one. I had an interest in biology (Mr Walker was my

The Alumni Chapter


Larisa in Cambridge (top) in the lab in Cambridge (middle) and in Germany working on her PhD (bottom).


Larisa Labzin (cont.)

Biology teacher) but no idea what I wanted to do or be when I graduated. I decided on the broadest possible degree and doubled Arts and Science at the University of Queensland (UQ). I majored in a bizarre mix of German, International Relations and Biochemistry. The Science degree offered the option to study immunology. I was hooked when I heard about Edward Jenner and his development of vaccination. In the late 1700s, Jenner expanded on the observation that milkmaids who had been infected with cowpox didn’t get sick with smallpox (which at the time killed 20 per cent of people who had it). So, Jenner took some pus from the hands of a milkmaid with cowpox and inoculated an eight-year-old boy with that cowpox. When Jenner subsequently exposed the boy to smallpox, the boy was protected, and vaccination was born. Vaccination has saved countless lives since. As part of my studies, I spent six months in Berlin in 2006 but returned still uncertain what to do long term. I completed an honours research project at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at UQ with Prof Matt Sweet, who studied the innate immune system and inflammation. This is the first line of defence against invading viruses and bacteria. Activation of innate immune cells causes inflammation, which acts like an alarm for the rest of the immune system to come and fight off the infection. I ended up moving to

Germany to do a PhD with a world leader in inflammation research, Prof Eicke Latz, and all my years of studying German were finally put to use. My educational journey at Somerset made me well rounded and set me up for studying the mishmash of subjects at university. The skills I learned in structuring essays and analysing literature in English and Modern History became really useful for the critical thinking needed in both the Arts and Science. The friends and the interactions I had with people at school are the memories I hold from my time at Somerset. One of my closest friends from school was Jarrah Young (pictured above left, with Larisa in London before tragically dying in 2012). I was really fortunate to have been able to spend as much time with her as I did. For students at Somerset now, I would suggest not taking on too much. I nearly burnt out in my final years, studying the International Baccalaureate and the OP system together during Year 11 and Year 12. Once leaving school, I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of university. My marks suffered in my first years studying at uni but I still completed my PhD and accomplished some pretty prestigious fellowships, despite those poor marks! Balance is crucial. Enjoying fun and excitement from sport and travel, along with study, is the key to learning about things rather than just studying them. It is much easier to be motivated when you find something interesting. I also discovered, it’s okay to not know what you want to do. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a scientist until nearing the end of my PhD and realising I was actually good at it and enjoyed it.

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Mercedes Porter (nee Wilson) Class of 2000

Mercedes married Greg Porter 8 April 2016

Welcomed Alfred Charles 24 September 2017

Welcomed Walter Ray 8 November 2018

Julia Simpson (nee Heiner) Class of 2009

Julia and husband (Kane) welcomed son Cooper Simpson into the world.

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ACHIEVEMENTS Tomas Giddings Class of 2001

Tomas Andrew Giddings became a Somerset College student in 1989 until 2000 when the Australian Navy claimed him as a Helicopter Technician, after Year 11. Tomas was recently awarded Chief Petty Officer status.

Genevieve Hallam Class of 2012

Gen Hallam with her mum Donna and father Jim, pictured here after she was admitted to the Bar in Brisbane on Wednesday 11 December 2019. Gen’s boss, Her Honour Judge Catherine Muir was present with her family.

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Julian Van der Waal Class of 1999 What are some of your fondest memories of your time at Somerset? Cycling with Mr Wand, Mr Day and Mr Jackson (rest in peace). The sports days (even though I was not fast in anything). Concert band, Jazz band and Sax ensemble with Adam Rowe and Luke Jackson, was one of the most enjoyable memories. How did Somerset shape your career path? There were so many amazing people who were so good at sports (from Sarah Korlarki to Sara Carrigan), incredible arts programmes and extensive academic orientated individuals. I actually felt dwarfed by it and yet at the same time found zero ego or discrimination for someone less academically inclined. I knew I had to find a path where talking to people would generate an income. Sales seemed to be a good fit. Cycling was one of the most contributing factors in the successes kilometres+ a week during Years 11 and 12, and then after, up to 800 to 1000 kilometres, all for the dream of what Sara Carrigan was fortunate to have in her life, was a massive goal. I realised the journey to obtaining the goal, the inherent drive, commitment and dedication were far more valuable. Finally, it was due to the teachers, the students and the whole collective vibe of the College. Dedicated to success. I have been so very blessed and fortunate to have. Training 600

Julian with family

Everything the school provided and implemented was world class. I am truly grateful for the collective focus on the success of the individual, as well as the holistic approach to helping students realise their dreams. Scott Fields and Jason Short singing all around the world, Margot Robbie, Sara Carrigan, and I am sure countless more alumni Things have changed a lot over the past few years, we had a company in Adelaide and Hobart with 40 sales agents representing some of Australia’s most prolific NFP’s. Working with well over 3500 sales agents over the past 10 years has taught me a lot about human behaviour and created an immense platform of sales coaching and team development experience. My time previously was a juggle between two core companies and a few new ventures but since closing my main company at the start of 2019, I am a lot more relaxed. I drop my daughter/s off at school (four daughters under five-and-a-half has its moments!) I run through a few emails, call potential clients and attend appointments. success stories from all year levels. How do you spend a working day?

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Julian Van der Waal (cont.) It has been nice stepping back from so much responsibility to now just concentrate on family and my own clients. Throughout the week, I try to work on our new podcast. We are looking into new initiatives at the moment, mainly around the household; solar, whole house water filtration and helping new home owners get into their new property with a zero deposit campaign. Who are the people who inspire you? Great question! I don’t think there is a single person but rather a collection of life-altering people who have come and gone throughout my life. On reflection, there have been dozens over the years; Marco Pantani, Lance Armstrong (until discovering his true story) but despite circumstances to still to be that good when the whole Peloton went through their darkest days of the sport is pretty impressive. Kenny G for saxophone, Paul Di Cesare- my old boss at the restaurant. I have never seen someone work harder than him and never look tired. The guy was a machine. There has been a few mentors and confidants who have really helped shape my mentality, work ethic and strength. Mark Cuban, Richard Branson and Tony Robbins I have done quite a lot of work through his organisation. Some of the most inspirational moments have not come from a particular person but from my drive to provide for a family, even before having one! My vision for the family life I wanted was my inspiration.

Julian with family

Overall my Grandfather, was an extremely successful sales person for 30 years in Victoria. He has probably been the most inspirational person in my life. Unfortunately he was never able to see my young family or experience the sales records we have broken. I know he would have been so excited to see his grandson hit records in every division, campaign, company and industry. What life lessons guide you? My tattoos guide me in how I feel my life should flow. “ Wherever you are be there ” - Grandpa If you are with your family, be there. If you are at work, be there. If you are on a holiday, immerse yourself in the entire event and you will get the most out of your life. “Our life is the creation of the mind. What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow.” - Buddha. This is one of the best!

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GHDs or Cloud Nine’s going at the same time. What advice would you offer current students? Try to keep in touch with your Class when you leave. To me, the graduating Class of 1999 had some of the most impressive, inspirational and motivating people. Some of us share some very different operational and societal views, but that is what makes a community. Whatever you do, do your very best, and then next time do better. ESPECIALLY if you don’t like it. This will teach you resilience. You will need a lot of that! Year 12 is not the end, it is just the beginning. Don’t peak at school. Be kind to others who are not good at all the things you are. We all have different strengths and areas of growth. You never know who will do something special. Immerse yourself in all the amazing extra-curricular activities; play music, try different sports, be competitive but not ruthless, have a strong faith and believe in yourself. Don’t expect everyone else to lift you up if you can’t even get off the floor. Pressure is good, stress is not. Try to find love in what you do. If you can’t, do it faster, so you can focus on something fun. Not everything in life is meant to be fun but there will be tests. You can either win or not, the choice is yours.

What are some of your most defining moments in life, so far? I’ll always come back to cycling; so many races and training rides. One of the best, my first mountain bike race ever was the Nationals. Super hot! Cadel Evans was in the seniors and I was only 16 in the under 19s. Finishing a four year apprenticeship in 13 months and taking over the restaurant at Fahrenheit in Paradise Point, three years after I started that apprenticeship. Opening my first company in 2011 in Adelaide. Buying the Audi RS5. I often go back to myself from third person at school and look at grades and potential applicable jobs that I thought I was “meant” to have. Life has most definitely been more impressive than I imagined it would have been. Having a family! When you see the first child and start to develop an incredible bond with them, it is quite remarkable. Although four girls is enough, I think. I’m not looking forward to having five

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Staff Forrest Butcher Class of 1994 Director of Aquatics/ Head Coach There is not a lot of history between


my student life at Somerset and becoming a staff member, just a few short years. After graduating in 1994, I began university here on the Gold Coast continuing to train and compete in swimming before taking an opportunity to swim for a University programme in the United States in 1996. Following my return to the Gold Coast to finish my degree, I visited the College where our magnificent new aquatic facility had just been built. It was amazing to see how grand a project the design and build was for Somerset. Not long after I began part- time coaching at the pool. In 2000, just before graduating university, I was successful in applying to become the swimming Head Coach at the College and looking back now, as the saying goes, ‘the rest is history’. The best part of my role is connecting with the students and our swimmers at the Academy. There are great stories and results at every age and every level. I feel so much satisfaction in seeing our Team support and guide the students to be better and to watch their development. Success does not have to be measured in gold medals or pure results, rather, in the outcomes of each individual and against those individual’s goals. At Somerset, we have helped many lose their fear of the water, many more become a competent swimmer, helped swimmers make an APS team

and even be selected onto an Olympic Team. The reward is all the same and getting the satisfaction of knowing the part I, and we, as a Team play in helping others. Having worked at Somerset for over two decades, it is without a doubt, the staff and families of the College that make it such a great place to be. It really is a vibrant, welcoming and supportive community with friendly faces which create the feeling of being part of a really large family. The College has an amazing built environment, but it’s the people within and outside the walls who make it come alive. There’s always a smile or friendly wave in passing or a genuine ‘good to see you’ that makes you feel at home. During my time at Somerset I have come to see a lot of change and development. In the early days, I recall demountable buildings, where commercial sized kitchens and retail space now sit, and across the road there were cattle and a dairy farm, where housing estates now sit. At the pool I now see an amazing grandstand and function room where once a grass hill, complete with seasonal bindies and ants once was. And although the College has expanded and developed from within, it continues to expand its reach into the community. The swimming pool has always had strong ties within the wider community being one of the only sports which invites both Somerset and non-Somerset families into its programmes. It has

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