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Stella Maris leads the race to retain ‘Top School’ Title

August 17, 2018

For many years now, the famous yellow shirts worn by Manly’s Stella Maris College team have been a friendly and familiar part of the Pub2Pub Charity Fun Run & Festival. And once again, the College is currently well out in front in the running to retain its title as ‘Top School’ in the annual URM Schools Charity Challenge.

Each year, the Pub2Pub, organised by Rotary of Brookvale, embraces the entire community from top athletes to weekend warriors, sports clubs, emergency services, local businesses, whole families and our local schools. All come together to raise funds for some wonderful charities.

And each year the Schools participate in a Challenge to field the biggest team. The Top 3 schools share cash prizes provided by URM totalling $3,500 plus trophies acknowledging their success.

This year, Stella Maris is aiming for a hat-trick of wins, having provided a huge 140 strong team to win in 2017 and 119 in 2016. With 9 days to go, they currently have 138 students registered in their team. Freshwater Senior Campus, Narrabeen Lakes Public School, Mater Maria College, Albert Hall Pre-School round out the current Top 5.

Each year, any prizemoney won by Stella Maris and all other funds raised by the girls’ personal efforts during the Pub2Pub are donated to the Happy Days Cambodian Village School – a wonderful initiative created by former Manly and NSW cricketer, Mike Pawley. The money goes towards providing school uniforms, sporting gear, teachers’ wages and even stationary to help with schooling. And it’s also distributed among families of Cambodian students in the form of food, farm animals, 2nd hand bicycles and hand pumps to help them source fresh water.

Other schools including Forestville Primary, Newport Primary, Freshwater High, Killarney Heights Primary, Curl Curl Primary, St Paul’s College, St. Augustine’s College and Pittwater House also support Happy Days in various ways, such as donating sports gear.

The Pub2Pub is a Stella Maris College, Duke of Edinburgh initiative. The students in this program start at the Bronze level in Year 9, then work their way from Bronze to Silver to Gold in their final year of school. In Year 11, students have the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to complete one of the six components of their Gold Award – service, volunteering, skills, physical recreation, residential project and adventurous journey. If the students complete all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh, they are eligible to receive 3 points towards their ATAR score.

The tie-in with ‘Happy Days’ has been eye opening and incredibly rewarding for the girls who have seen Mike Pawley’s work in action up close. Stella student Charlotte said: “Cambodia was an experience that made me feel incredibly thankful – not only for the life I get to live, but for those out there making the world a better place. I don’t think the friends we met know just how much of an impact their smiles, hospitality and boundless sense of gratitude had on us.”

Fellow student Emily agreed, saying: “In Cambodia we met other schoolkids who instantly became our brothers and sisters. In some ways, they were just like us, yet they’d experienced hardships that none of us could ever imagine.  The Pub2Pub is a chance for our school community to support theirs and help make a real difference.”

This year, 150 students involved in Stella’s Duke of Edinburgh program have been invited to join Stella’s team participating in the Pub2Pub in the hope of defending their title as ‘Top School while supporting Happy Days. 13 of the College’s Gold Award students who travelled to Cambodia in 2017 will again be taking part in this year’s event.

All of these students have experienced firsthand the poverty present in Cambodian villages and how it affects education. They’ve made a special connection with students their own age living in extraordinarily tough conditions and some have plans to return to Cambodia in the future to help out in person.

But in the meantime, there’s a title to retain and an event in which to participate. Stella Maris College has thrown down the gauntlet to all other northern beaches schools. Will any other school challenge them for the title in this year’s URM Schools Charity Challenge? (Stay tuned.)



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