St Joseph’s College is celebrated for its inclusive, family atmosphere, welcoming boys from all around the globe. Our international family is particularly special, adding another layer to the rich diversity of students at the Hunters Hill campus.
At Joeys, boys are encouraged to be global citizens, engaging with students from all walks of life so that they can better understand and contribute to the world.
It is this emphasis on inclusivity and academic rigour that drew the families of Tom Williams and Tristan Seeto to the College. The Williams are based in Hong Kong, while the Seetos live in Papua New Guinea. Both families were looking for a school that would embrace their sons wholeheartedly and super-charge their academic performance.
Tristan’s previous schooling was very different to Joeys. His international primary school in the East New Britain town of Kokopo often had as few as seven students in a cohort. His parents, Brendan and Katherine, run an autoparts sales and repair workshop. They were keen to ensure Tristan would have access to a secondary education that enabled him to reach his full potential.
When he first walked through the Mark St gates, Tristan was nervous, hoping that he would be accepted. He shouldn’t have been. At the College, you are – as the famous College saying goes – a new boy for only one day, and a Joe-Boy for life.
“Coming from such a small place, more than 3,000 kilometres away, I wasn’t that talkative,” Tristan says. “But being at Joeys brought me out of my shell, made me more social and allowed me to make so many new mates from all over Australia and Asia.”
His mother agrees: “Over the years, Tristan has met a good group of very supportive friends and we know that he is in a caring environment.”
The fact that boarders and day boys eat, study and play together means no boy is left behind and strong friendships form easily. Parents receive regular updates from the boarding coordinators on their sons’ progress which is especially reassuring to
overseas-based mothers and fathers.
“We’ve never had reason to worry about Tom. We have seen him develop into a resilient and thoughtful young man.”Mr peter williams, father of tom williams
Perhaps Tristan’s biggest fear when he came to the school was that catching up academically would prove a huge obstacle. Instead, he has flourished under the guidance of the College’s dedicated teaching staff and the supervised study program, which ensures boys become consistent, self-starting learners.
Now in Year 11, he has received several academic awards and is weighing up which career he will choose. This wasn’t always the case. “In Year 7 I was in the lower English and maths classes, so I put a lot of effort in and thanks also to the hard work of my teachers I’m now in the top classes.”
Joeys’ structured learning program was also a major reason why Peter Williams and wife Catherine chose the College for their son Tom’s secondary education. Australian expats working in finance, they had met the headmaster on one of his Hong Kong visits and been impressed by what they heard from him and other parents who had put their sons through Joeys.
“We felt Tom needed structure and consistency,” he says. “Joeys gave him the support and the nudge he needed.”
“I also lost my American accent,” Tom laughs – a legacy of the international school he attended in Hong Kong. Indeed, Tom found there were many students from similar backgrounds to his.
“It was really diverse – there were boys from Hong Kong and Singapore and it was good to be able to talk with them and share our experiences.”
The high-quality facilities and teaching staff inspired him to knuckle down and focus on improving his study habits.
“I didn’t have much motivation before I came to Joeys, but I thought of it as a fresh start and the teachers are so good there was no excuse for me not to do well.”
His academic results have been impressive.
Joe-Boys for life: Year 11 students Tom Williams and Tristan Seeto spent their formative years in Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea respectively.
“Joeys lifted his performance,” Peter says. “Previously when I would ask him about what he was doing at school he wouldn’t say much but now he was telling me about the assignments he had due and was enthusiastic. He was on top of things and self-motivated.”
As Australia’s biggest boarding school for boys, the College dorms are hives of great activity and social interaction. Students discuss their school projects and cocurricular interests and revel in each other’s company. Depending on their age, on weekends they enjoy supervised excursions to attractions such as amusement parks or football matches and are given time to visit friends. Both Tristan and Tom value the great sense of mateship the dorms cultivate.
“I really like the culture,” Tom says. “Everyone looks out for each other and everyone’s always having a good time.”
Tristan says this togetherness extends to Joeys’ many sporting fields. “There is so much camaraderie in playing and wanting to win together. It’s been a real highlight for me.”
As Tom and Tristan settle into their senior years at the College, their parents can rest assured knowing their sons are receiving the best education, pastoral care and career guidance they need to develop into fine young men.
Joeys is the boys’ family away from home – and their international background only adds to the College’s diverse character.
“We are so happy with our choice,” Katherine says. “Tristan is a long way from us but we have seen his confidence grow over the years and he has matured considerably at Joeys.”
Peter concurs: “We’ve never had reason to worry about Tom. We have seen him develop into a resilient and thoughtful young man.”