Brisbane State High has some notable alumni, among which, 2008 Queenslander of the Year, Graeme Wood; novelist Jessica Anderson; Fintan Magee, whose street art you can see in the West End; our 21st Governor General Bill hayden; and captain of the Australian national rugby union team from 1984 to 1989, Wally lewis. In addition, many well-known sports figures are alumni of the school, including six Australian cricket testers and many Commonwealth and Olympic Games athletes.
During the centenary year, students were encouraged (with the help of school staff) to seek out alumni to share some of their wisdom and knowledge through a series of masterclasses.
The school has organized several masterclasses within the framework of the program and extracurricular areas.
Some of the State High alumni who have worked with students this year are:
Dr Andrew Elek AM (Class of 1964) worked with grade 11 and 12 economics students. Dr Elek is Visiting Fellow at the Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University (ANU). He was State High’s first Rhodes Scholar in 1969. Each year, the Elek International Affairs Prize for Humanities and Languages is awarded to the school’s top student in the humanities and languages.
Dr Elek invited the students to discuss the most important global challenges facing the world and what they can do about them.
Phillip Bacon of Phillip Bacon Galleries hosted a masterclass in his gallery highlighting the work of Guillaume robinson. Mr. Robinson AO (Class of 1951) is a painter and lithographer who won the prestigious Archibald Prize as well as the Wynn Prize for landscape painting.
Brigadier Kevin O’Brien CSC (class of 1964), Vietnam veteran and a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, gave a lesson on the Vietnam War, which the students were currently studying.
Brig. O’Brien developed new military history programs for the military and served as an executive producer of television documentaries.
Old Olympic Volleyball player Zane Christenson (Class of 2002) hosted a masterclass in March. W league professional player Nathalie Tathem (Class of 2013) organized a session with the Girls Junior and Intermediate A teams. Sam donaldson (Class of 2004) (Head Physical Therapist for the Queensland Firebirds, Australia Paralympic Football Team and Brisbane Roar W-League) hosted a strapping masterclass, teaching netball players how to tie their ankles to avoid injury.
Professional dancer Romy Vuksan (Class of 2012) hosted a session with one of the school’s talented dance troupes, followed by a question-and-answer session with the students about her career as a performer. The school has five dance troupes – musical theater, hip hop, jazz, bollywood and contemporary.
Romy has performed in many musicals such as “Dirty Dancing”, “West Side Story”, “Legally Blonde” and “The Wedding Singer”.
Award-winning composer and actor, Joff bush (Class of 2002), known for A Man on the Edge (2014), Australian Survivor (2016) and Bluey (2018), internationally renowned musician and principal oboist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Diana doherty (Class of 1983), and Dr Ian O’Brien (Class of 1987) have all given Masterclasses with students of State High Music.
Drama was the last Masterclass of the year with Paul Bishop (Class of 1984). Mr. Bishop is known for his acting roles in Blue Heelers (1994), Paradise Road (1997) and In Her Skin (2009).
Graduate student, End Gillespie, who wrote to the Westender about the program said:
“The students were thrilled to receive lessons from or about these honored alumni who were once ‘like them’ teens. The Masterclasses have been such a success that the school hopes to continue the program into its next century.
If you are an alumnus, the school welcomes all alumni to keep in touch with the school. Alumni can sign up to receive quarterly newsletters and meeting notices and even indicate their industry experience to nominate for the mentor position. They can do it at www.statehighconnect.com.au
Images provided. Cover image, Sam Donaldson, Netball Masterclass.