There is no doubt 2020 has been an extraordinary year. But despite the once-in-a-century intrusion of a pandemic and the disruption it caused, there has been a lot to admire about the way Joeys boys have calmly gone about their studies and co-curricular activities.

As we farewell the final week of classes for 2020, we look back on a year that has challenged all students, their families and staff of St Joseph’s College. A year in which the boys have shown great resilience, and strength of character, where they have learnt the importance of family, friendships and faith, and where they have continued to demonstrate not only their ability to adapt, but their ability to thrive no matter what the challenge presented to them.

We take a moment with a handful of students to hear their highlights, challenges, and what they learnt about themselves.

Toby Williams Year 8

Q. What was the best part of this year?
A. Returning from home schooling and seeing everyone again – it had been ages since I’d seen my best mates. It was really difficult being at home without them.

Q. What have you learnt this year?
A. Keep going forward and don’t stop because things will improve later on.

Q. What’s the best thing about Joeys?
A. You have to study and focus but you also have a fair bit of freedom – it’s just like a five-day sleep-over with a bunch of mates.

Q. What was your most memorable individual sporting moment?
A. I’m a wicketkeeper, but my best take wasn’t a catch. Against Newington at no.2 at the Park there was a bad ball from one of our fastest bowlers which went down the legside and I had to dive to bring it in cleanly.    

Wallace MacKay, Year 8

Q. How were your grades this year?
A. They really improved, especially in maths. In Year 6 I went to a small school with just 12 students in my year, and that wasn’t a good maths experience, then last year I played catch-up and this year I really got into it.

Q. What is your biggest take-out from 2020?
A. To value my Joeys mates even more, because in Covid I experienced what it’s like not to be around them for a long time. But when we got back to College we chatted lots and made each other feel normal again.

Q. What cocurricular activies are you excited about?
A. My piano playing. I’ve chosen a couple of songs to learn that I think are great. One’s called White Clouds by an Italian artist.

Q. What does the College motto mean to you?
A. It’s in everything I do, whether it’s piano where you want to learn a different song that’s even more challenging, or trying to get a better score batting in cricket.

Clockwise from top left: Toby Williams (Year 8), Wallace MacKay (Year 8), Timothy Jancewicz (Year 9), Toby Stanley (Year 9).

Timothy Jancewicz, Year 9

Q. What was your first year at College like?
A. The fact everyone at Joeys is so friendly was a real highlight for me.

Q. Which subject caught your imagination?
A. I’ve done well in science this year. My teacher, Miss Henderson, is so friendly and helpful and goes out of her way to help. I really enjoyed atomic theory. It’s interesting to know how people have thought about the evolution of the atom and how it came to be.

Q. What did you learn about yourself this year?
A. I need to work hard to be where I want to be, and there are always people who are going to help you but you need to be independent. It’s good to learn that.

Toby Stanley, Year 9

Q. How did you turn lockdown into a positive experience?
A. It was an opportunity to do your own study – as long as you kept away from the distractions on your laptop. I learnt to work by myself and not rely on other people. It’s always good to get help from your parents and teachers but it’s also great to be independent.

Q. What part does weekly Wednesday Mass play in your school life?
A. It gives me the time to refocus and stop worrying about everything else. I can refresh halfway through the week, which is why I like it.

Q. How are you feeling about going into Year 10?
A. It’s a big step-up so I’m excited and nervous. But I know that my teachers have prepared me well.

Max Circosta, Year 7

Q. What subjects did you enjoy most?
A. Japanese social history, learning about the feudal system. I also like RE, learning about God, life, creation and the church.

Q. What was the best study tip you picked up this year?
A. If you’re going to write an essay for an exam, just look at memorising one key word, you don’t have to memorise the whole thing. That specific one word will bring back everything.

Q. Which was your favourite sport or co-curricular activity?
A. I enjoyed playing cricket and supporting my teammates. I’m a pace bowler.

Q. Take us through your best ball. 
A. It was probably against Sydney Boys High when the ball cut back in against a right-hander and hit the top of off stump. I also enjoyed rugby. I’d only played soccer before, and I’d never played rugby in my life, but I was the second highest pointscorer.

Edward Gilmore, Year 10

Q. What was your highlight of 2020?
A. Returning to school after Covid, seeing all my mates and getting back into College life. It was great being around everyone and being able to kick the footy or go for a swim after class.

Q. What did you learn about yourself this year?
A. I was able to take care of myself more. Being at home during Covid when everyone was out at work meant I had to do things myself instead of being able to rely on someone else. It gave me a push to realise I’m now at an age where I am more than capable of doing things on my own.

Q. How did your teachers help you cope during lockdown?
A. They were great, especially when they added fun to things. We’d watch a movie together as a class on Zoom to feel like we were at school even though we weren’t. Our boarding coordinator, Mr Ticehurst, asked us to send around photos of what we were doing at home, but no-one could beat the one he sent of himself with his horses! It was very funny.

Clockwise from top left: Max Circosta (Year 7), Edward Gilmore (Year 10), Aston Lebler (Year 7), Connor Dunn (Year 10).

Aston Lebler, Year 7

Q. How have your study habits changed this year?
A. The biggest change is my mindset towards subjects. Before coming to Joeys I was really negative about maths and I was doing very badly but now my mindset has changed to don’t think it’s too hard: you can do it, don’t get yourself down. I’m doing much better.

Q. What’s your favourite subject?
A. History in medieval Europe, especially England. My teacher Mr Casamento was great. He said if you don’t do your homework you are failing yourself. It drove us to work harder.

Q. What’s been your standout moment at the College?
A. Winning against Newington in rugby the last round to go through undefeated. I was water boy because I got concussed the week before, but it didn’t matter. It was just so much fun watching us play.

Q. Best on-field play?
A. Against Shore I ran off the shoulder of Pat Smith and made 30m and gave it to our winger who scored in the corner.

Connor Dunn, Year 10

Q. What was your highlight of 2020?
A. This was my first year at Joeys so definitely coming here from Dubbo was the highlight. It’s great living with your best mates and having all these great resources at your fingertips. In the afternoons, you’ve got staff members all around who can help you across the board. Plus, you’ve got the gym and basketballs courts and ovals.

Q. What was the biggest challenge?
A. When we got sent home during Covid that was tough, but the College was upfront and honest and kept us informed. Online learning was handled very well.

Q. What did you learn from lockdown?
A. Take things day by day; some things are out of your control so you have to learn to adapt and go with the flow. And don’t take things for granted.

Q. Best sports memory?
A. I loved the footy season – and I heard that was a fraction of how good it gets. So I’m really looking forward to that next year. I played prop in the 16 Ds and I loved it.