Gia C (Year 11)

Bright and early at 7:15 in the morning on Wednesday 8th of June, year 11 students boarded a bus to the 2022 Stand Tall event. We had no idea to expect, was this going to be fun, or just another boring school excursion?  

We arrived at the ICC (international convention centre), curiosity peaking and excitement building. We slowly shuffled into the giant hall that held over 6000 students and was seated next to the rowdy boys from Knox Grammar. Our hosts were Liv Phyland, TV producer and Sam Cawthorn, 2009 Young Australian of the Year who introduced us to the theme of this year’s Stand Tall event; “Dream Again”. This theme was specifically chosen to remind us to keep on dreaming and to not give up despite the hopelessness of the past few years. We were reminded to stay hopeful and positive post-COVID, and heard briefly from the National Education Minister who highlighted the importance of our opinion and how WE shape our own future.  

 We were then introduced to our first official speaker, Duku Foré. Duku started this day off with an amazing insight into his story that really stressed the importance of resilience and not giving up. Duku was born in a refugee camp in Uganda and always dreamed of becoming a great speaker. He explained how he overcame his speech impediment to become an international speaker, writing his own book and representing Australia in the United Nations. Duku was the highlight for many during the Stand Tall event.  

We heard a beautiful performance from Bella Taylor Smith, winner of the 2021 Voice competition. She also spoke to us, informing us of the importance of community. Bella spoke about her personal troubles and how youth group helped her find peace and happiness in a rough time. Winter Olympics Gold Medallist, Jakara Anthony, spoke to us about the importance of staying calm and focused through adversity. Jakara also suggested a method to deal with stress, reminding us to focus on the things we can control, and not waste energy on what we can’t control. Timomatic also performed some of his most popular music, treating us with a song he composed especially for the event. Our school was relatively calm, yet some schools went crazy for Timomatic, forming a bit of a mosh pit in front of the stage. He provided a nice break from the many talks we sat through and gave us an opportunity to relax and move a bit.  

Our second session began with a dance competition, and our very own Joseph Kinyanjui went up and showcased some of his best moves. He got so close to winning, but unfortunately, the judges couldn’t see Joseph’s talent. Shout out to Joseph for being an amazing human with some crazy cool dance moves.  

We were also visited by the Abdullah family, who created iForgive Day after their children passed away in a tragic accident. They shared the importance of forgiveness and the power it gives an individual to grow and dream again.  We then received an emotional talk by Michael Crossland who shared his battle with cancer and his dreams of living a normal life despite the many adversaries he faces.  Michael really highlighted the importance of dreaming again and getting up after every challenge. Michael’s inspiration was a definite highlight for many.  

This was far from a boring school excursion.