Schoolies’ ar­rival a rite of pas­sage

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

JESSEE Young, Kyra Hadley and Emma Telford grew up to­gether.

They went to kinder­garten, Prep and ju­nior school to­gether and this week the three Whit­sun­day teenagers fin­ished high school to­gether.

De­scrib­ing them­selves as ex­cited about the fu­ture yet sad to farewell the past, they and many of their Proser­pine State High School co­hort are now look­ing for­ward to a rite of pas­sage at Schoolies cel­e­bra­tions in Air­lie Beach.

“It’s our last chance to spend time with each other be­fore we head off into the world,” school leaver Alison Dench ex­plained.

“And it’s about making fi­nal mem­o­ries in the town you grew up in,” 18-year-old graduate Kumya Gabey said.

With the lap­tops put away and study fi­nally fin­ished, the next week is all about cel­e­brat­ing the end of an era – safely in the care of an army of vol­un­teers.

Schoolies Air­lie Beach co­or­di­na­tor Ni­cole Gra­ham said par­ents could rest easy know­ing she was do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­sure a safe en­vi­ron­ment for the young­sters.

“We’ve got the Red Frogs on board,” she said.

“We have a lot of com­mu­nity mem­bers that sup­port schoolies and come down and vol­un­teer year af­ter year to en­sure the kids’ safety.

“And we’ve also got the chill­out zone if the kids have had enough and they need to sit down.

“That’s got free drinks and free food.”

James Heitman is just one of the many lo­cal teens who are grate­ful to this team of vo- lun­teers for making it pos­si­ble to cel­e­brate Schoolies in Air­lie Beach.

“And you’ve got your par­ents nearby if you need help,” he said.

For James’ ner­vous dad, Justin Heitman, the next week will doubt­less be an emo­tional time.

“But I’m rapt that my son and his friends are stay­ing lo­cal,” Mr Heitman said.

“As par­ents, it’s nice to know we can be here to sup­port them if they need us, al­though I’m really im­pressed with how Schoolies is run and by all the vol­un­teers.”

Schoolies of­fi­cially starts on Satur­day, with Whit­sun­day Po­lice con­firm­ing there will be a heavy po­lice pres­ence through­out the week.

Po­lice will be tar­get­ing un­der­age drink­ing and ask­ing young peo­ple to look out for their mates.

Ms Gra­ham re­in­forced this mes­sage of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“You have the choice to just enjoy your­self and not get way­laid by what other peo­ple do,” she said.

“Take ad­van­tage of all the free ac­tiv­i­ties and all the great dis­counted tours on of­fer.

“Enjoy your time at Schoolies and enjoy the re­gion as well, be­cause we’re lucky we’ve got so many op­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties.

“You want to come out of Schoolies say­ing it was a great time.”

With ev­ery­thing from dance par­ties to tie-dye­ing and the buck­ing bull to ob­sta­cle cour­ses, Air­lie Beach schoolies surely won’t be short on things to do.

Ms Gra­ham said lo­cal res­i­dents and reg­u­lar visi­tors had noth­ing to fear from the com­ing in­flux of schoolies.

“We keep ev­ery­thing within Schoolies Cen­tral,” she said.

“We do close off the en­tire car park, which may in­con­ve­nience some peo­ple, but that’s one of our strate­gies to keep all the young peo­ple in one area so they’re not out on the streets.”

Half the Air­lie Creek car park at the la­goon will be closed to­day, be­fore clos­ing com­pletely from Fri­day un­til Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 3. All ac­tiv­i­ties in Air­lie Beach are drug- and al­co­hol-free.

JU­BI­LANT: Candee Rack­ham, James Heitman, Alison Dench, Kumya Gabey, Emma Telford, Jessee Young and Kyra Hadley are look­ing for­ward to Schoolies. Photo: Sharon Small­wood

FREE­DOM: For­mer Proser­pine State High School stu­dents Mo­hanad Abd El-baky, Alex Moore, Tim Macdonald and Holly Coyte, with (cen­tre) teacher Ray­lene Ras­mussen, cel­e­brate the end of ex­ams for Year 12.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.