Home' Aurora : Aurora June 2012 Contents EDUCATION
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
By TRACEY EDSTEIN
Gemma Evans didn't expect to
figure out her major HSC design
project while chatting to Andrea
Swift, mother of American country superstar
"We were at the Newcastle Entertainment
Centre and I was trying to explain the HSC to
someone from Nashville," she laughs.
"My idea was that you could make a quilt
from a basic kit and personalise it with
After the concert Gemma wrote "a
ridiculously rambling letter", attached a pen
and fabric square and posted it to Taylor
"I wanted something that people like me
could work on during their hospital stays.
"I have cerebral palsy. It affects people
differently but I was determined not to be in
Gemma's mother Lee says, "In order to
stay on her feet she had to have a lot of
operations where her femur was broken,
rotated, pinned and plated. Her calf muscles
were cut, extended and sewn together so
she could stay upright."
Only days after posting the letter, Gemma
received a reply and Swift's signed fabric
"I was beside myself. It ended up on my quilt
and that's how it all started."
The former St Francis Xavier's College
student's 'Inspirational Hospital Quilt'
placed first in the diocese in last year's HSC
for Design and Technology.
"I've been quilting since I was in Year 5 and
thought it'd be cool to have something
you're working on and can see progressing,
because often in hospital you don't see how
far you've come."
Although many activities are available to
children with chronic illness or disability
to alleviate the anxiety of surgery and
treatment, teenagers have few outlets to
express their thoughts and needs.
"I wanted something that would help with
emotional and physical wellbeing."
The quilt is a mosaic of colour, fabric
patterns, ribbons, buttons, photographs
of family and friends, her god-daughter's
footprint, grandmother's bridal veil, and
lyrics and messages from Pink, Taylor Swift
and Ingrid Michaelson. All these are markers
of personal significance and motivation.
"I've tried to make it fit a hospital bed,
lightweight, non-toxic and washable. If you
have to change beds or rooms you can take
it with you. All the techniques can be used
Design and Technology teacher and mentor
Trish Stallard oversaw Gemma's project.
"She worked incredibly hard putting the
quilt together, all the blocking, embroidery,
"She had many barriers to overcome and
never complained. I nominated her for the
Brother John Taylor Memorial Prize."
The prize recognises students who achieve
academic success while overcoming
personal hardship. Gemma was one of three
NSW recipients. She also scored Band
6s (90% and above) in her other subjects,
placing first in the diocese and fourth in the
state for Business Services.
Now studying Event Management at
TAFE, Gemma hopes her quilt can be an
inspiration to others.
"I found that it gave me a sense of belonging
because you have something that's yours.
You've made your mark."
Gemma s Major Design Project will
be on display at the Wallsend District
Library in Bunn St, 18 July -- 3 August.
The Diocesan Public Speaking Finals
were held during Catholic Schools
Week. Secondary schools were well
represented and the standard was high in
St Joseph's Campus, All Saints College,
Lochinvar was named champion school. St
Joseph's achieved excellent overall results
and because the team was well placed in
most categories it was, convincingly, the
winner on the day. Lisa Donnelly, who
trained the winning team, said, "St Joseph's
is very proud of our students' achievements,
enthusiasm and dedication at this
competitive level. It is well known that one of
our greatest fears is to speak publicly, and
these students were able to overcome their
anxiety and speak with passion, authority
and conviction. It was inspiring to be in
Education Officer at the Catholic Schools
Office, Carmel Tapley, who co-ordinates the
annual competition, said, "It's very gratifying
to see the skills and confidence instilled
into these young men and women by their
teachers and parents. While not all can be
named winners, each student has risen to
the occasion and in so doing, encouraged
each other and entertained the members of
the audience. I congratulate them all."
Year 7 A James Drayton, St Joseph's
Aberdeen; B Sarah Ward, St Clare's Taree
Year 8 A Lilli Thompson, St Peter's Maitland;
B Jacob Askew, St Mary's Gateshead
Year 9 A Emily McKendry, St Clare's Taree; B
Darcy Greaves, St Joseph's Lochinvar
Year 10 A Hannah Williams, St Peter's
Maitland; B Tahkiesha King, St Joseph's
By SIOBHAN MCALARY
St Joseph s team (l-r) Paris Slade, Lucy Knight, Lillian Stevenson, Savannah Peterson, Tahkiesha King, Paul Greaves,
Darcy Greaves, Mitchell Har vey and Grace Penfold.
Above, Gemma with Lee (left) and with Trish Stallard.
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