College dux Luca Manfredi puts his HSC success down to steely determination and the spirit of camaraderie and togetherness he experienced at Joeys.
Luca wasn’t expecting to be dux. Modest and hardworking in the Marist way, his dedication to study throughout 2021 could not be questioned. But it still came as a shock when Mr Bookallil, College Head of Teaching and Learning, phoned him with the good news.
“I was taken aback, because during my HSC exams I didn’t feel that great coming out of some of them,” he says. “That night, my family and I celebrated and went out for dinner which was great because I am so grateful for what they and my Joeys teachers did for me.”
A day boy from Lane Cove, Luca had been a student at Joeys since Year Seven. Over six years, he absorbed the College’s targeted learning and study techniques which enabled him to reach his potential and become a life-long learner.
Typically humble, he feels his outstanding ATAR of 99.10 wasn’t so much about his own application and perseverance as the team atmosphere and camaraderie that pervades Joeys’ classrooms, dining halls, boarding houses and playing fields.
High achiever: College dux Luca Manfredi with Headmaster Mr Michael Blake.
“It is simply the power of the close bond that I have with my friends and peers – that’s something quite intrinsic to the Joeys community,” he says.
“The tremendous support and team atmosphere made all the difference in terms of being able to maintain a sense of drive and motivation to achieve my goals.”
He says the warmth and openness he experienced at Joeys set up a learning framework that encouraged inquiry and, most importantly, the freedom to make mistakes and seek assistance.
“I truly believe that I was able to become dux of the College because the Joeys environment taught me the importance of asking for help and admitting that sometimes you need assistance.”
The year of 2021 was filled with disruption as Covid lockdowns became the new norm. The pressure on HSC students to adapt and persevere was enormous. Luca is grateful for the role both his parents and the College played in providing a secure and stable environment in which to study.
He is particularly thankful for the seamless way in which Joeys successfully dealt with the technological challenges of offsite learning and kept open the lines of communication with his teachers during the height of lockdown.
“The tremendous support and team atmosphere at Joeys helped me achieve my goals.”Luca Manfredi
A well-rounded education: Luca (left) enjoyed cross country running as one of many cocurricular activities at Joeys.
It meant he could study effectively and keep up the routines he’d developed over his time at the College: “At Joeys we were encouraged to maintain routine in study and life. When you have that base, you have the foundations to succeed.”
He is also grateful for the support of his sister Isabella. As a boy, his family travelled all over the world for two years in a sailing boat skippered by his father. Living in close contact increased cooperation between family members and tightened bonds. In lockdown, that capacity for living easily together proved invaluable.
“Back on the boat we had to work efficiently together, so I think I am very fortunate to have a sibling that I am close to. I was able to talk to Isabella and we supported each other during lockdown.”
Travelling at such a young age also gave Luca a broader perspective, exposing him to, and increasing his awareness of, inequality and the environment – issues that are still close to his heart.
He says keeping a balance between academic and cocurricular activities was central to staying on top of his studies and sustaining enthusiasm. Physical activity enabled him to clear his mind so that he would be fresh next time he hit the books.
At College he played tennis and ran cross country. At the height of the delta variant, he was able to use the basic gym equipment in his garage to exercise and stay fit.
“It was good for my physical health,” he says, “but it also helped my mental health and gave my mind a break.”
Healthy body, healthy mind: Tennis gave Lucas a break from studying and enabled him to recharge his batteries.
He acknowledges that study can sometimes be a challenge for everyone but says the key is to avoid thinking about subjects “as if they’re tasks or arduous”. “Obviously you are interested in the subject, so think about why you chose it, what interested you about it, and that can help inspire you.”
This year, Luca is hoping to study civil and environmental engineering at the Imperial College London. In the meantime, he will be tutoring at Joeys and supplementing his income with work as a barman.
He encourages all Joe-Boys to be energetic and curious, especially in the classroom.
“Get engaged in class discussions instead of being silent,” he says. “Although it’s initially challenging, it completely transforms your class experience.
“Joeys taught me that if you find something you are passionate about and willing to put the time in to develop, you will always find the drive and motivation to achieve that goal.”
Most of all, he urges students to enjoy their time at Joeys.
“Take advantage of all the opportunities you get. It is a privilege to be a part of this community and see how kind and supportive everyone is of each other.”