And it’s only the beginning

Joeys prides itself on the great diversity of its students. The rich tradition of country and city boys mixing together is unlike any other school in Australia. It gives the College a unique flavour as boys from different backgrounds and ages share experiences, exchange ideas and form lifelong friendships.

The first month of a Year seven boy’s life at the College exposes him to many of these wonderful influences as he settles into life at Hunters Hill. New students have to familiarise themselves with classroom locations, the names of dozens of teachers and the rituals of one of Australia’s leading educational institutions. They also have to embed the study routines that will last through their school years and beyond. For boarders, the process of adjustment is heightened even further, because they are living away from home for the first time

Above: Year 7 Boys Max Toro and Josh Armstrong address the College at a recent Headmaster’s assembly

At a recent Headmaster’s assembly, Year 7 boys Max Toro and Josh Armstrong represented their year group by taking to the stage in Br Emillian Hall, and revealing stories about their first four weeks to their fellow Joe Boys.

For both students, sharing their vastly different accounts of home life stands as a testament to that unique city-country blend that exists here at Joeys, and the diversity of backgrounds that our student body represents. Both boys were encouraged through the sounds of laughter and applause from students and staff in attendance, and received hearty congratulations for the rest of the day.

“We are neighbours at home but four hours apart,” Josh laughs. “We are neighbours at Joeys but we are only four metres apart.”


The mates all Year seven boys make bind them to their new surrounds, providing the support they need to begin their Joeys journey. Max, a day boy, went to Father John Terry Catholic school in Balmain. He says it was “smaller than half the size of the back ovals at Joeys” and he wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the College and the amount of new people he’d encounter. But any nerves he may have had were calmed well before he set foot on the campus. His Year 12 “buddies” Dylan and Xavier had sent him a letter welcoming him to Joeys and offering their assistance. “I was surprised and relieved to receive it,” Max says. “It was personal and it made me feel safe and welcome.”

He says he has been overwhelmed by the number of new friends he has made and how after just five weeks he already feels like a Joe Boy. “I did not expect to have so many mates and how far and wide they come from.” Apart from the excellent sporting facilities – Max is an avid cricketer and rugby player – he has been impressed by the school’s ethos and the dedication to self improvement.  

“Hearing Headmaster Mr Tarlinton speak at our first assembly about respect really stood out to me. The fact you have to respect your learning environment and the people within it, inside and outside the classroom. It is new to me to greet teachers with a confident ‘good morning and ‘good afternoon’ but I know this fits in with the culture of respect.”

Josh says he “likes meeting people who are different to me and have come from a different background.” Max and Josh could not have had come from more different backgrounds. Josh hails from Beetaloo, a huge cattle station in the Northern Territory, thousands of kilometres from Hunters Hill. A graduate of the Katherine School Of The Air, he had never experienced a physical school, let alone a big-city college, until he came to Joeys. He has been comforted by the presence at Joeys of his cousin, Sam Brown, whose parents own the nearest cattle station to Beetaloo.  

“We are neighbours at home but four hours apart,” Josh laughs. “We are neighbours at Joeys but we are only four metres apart.”

For someone who has been home-schooled his whole life, Josh has taken to Joeys with great gusto.

“Everyone is so nice here. Even the infirmary is awesome – you can get to watch movies when you’re sick. 

“And I have never played a team sport before,” he says. “But I’m in the Gs for basketball and I really like it.”

He’s also had experiences that he hadn’t quite anticipated. “I had KFC for the first time. It made me sick for three days. I think I prefer steak!”

But it is the kindness of new mates that has really struck a chord.

“I’m enjoying how everyone is so helpful. I think they like that I come from somewhere different. 

“I never knew Max before but I think we are going to be good friends.”

One-hundred-and-forty years after the first Joeys boys set foot on College grounds it seems the great traditions of mateship and are alive and well today.