Illawarra Mercury By Agron Latifi


A career as a federal parliamentarian is on the cards for Sara Al Arnoos.

And if the 18-year-old Keira High School year 12 student makes it to Canberra, she plans on being a strong advocate for the rights of Aboriginals, as well as refugees.

On Monday the siblings were awarded Friends of Zainab Senior Secondary Scholarships from the Public Education Foundation.

Ecstatic at winning the scholarships, the duo were quick to point out that they had quiet different personalities and the only thing they agreed on was that Keira High School was a great school.

‘Every aspect of our life is different but we share a similar journey,” Sara said.

The sisters arrived in Australia almost four years ago. They left war-torn Syria six years ago and spent two years in Lebanon before the family of eight moved to Wollongong.

“We are so grateful to the school and the Public Education Foundation for the opportunities it has provided us to transform our lives,” Sara said.

Aya added she was very proud to go to a school which places such an emphasis on promoting diversity.

“I just want to say I’m very proud of being at Keira HS,” she said.

“I really appreciate all the hard work of the principal and all the teachers.

“I really appreciate to have ESL classes for English and science….in science it actually helped me improve my mark from 15 out of 50 to the top student in the class. I was very proud of that.”

Keira HS principal David Robson said both girls were highly committed students who made the most of their opportunities.

“Both girls have always spoken to me about the opportunities provided to them in a public school,” he said.

“But these two people have taken it further and are transforming their own lives. What we are doing is hopefully providing the assistance and the guidance and the pathways, and opening those doors for them.

“We talk about what the school has done – you being here makes it a better school. You going into society as educated young adults makes that society better.”

Coniston Public School students Emerald Clay and Cody Symonds (NSW Teachers Federation Primary Scholarship) as well as Smiths Hill HS student Ella Webber (The Harding Miller Education Foundation Scholarship) were also acknowledged at the Proudly Public! Celebrating Excellence in Public Schools awards night.

Department of Education secretary Mark Scott, said the scholarships not only provide financial assistance to the recipients, but also acknowledge their dedication and commitment to the public education system.

Read more here.