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Cooper W. from Modbury High School

Cooper Whitbread was presented the John Tilley Memorial Award for Most Outstanding Student at Modbury High School for 2021. It was an honor to recognise his contribution to the Modbury High School community.

Cooper has always been a driven and focused student, who constantly challenged himself to achieve academic excellence. He had a strong plan for his high school career and aimed to finish year 12 with the highest ATAR possible! However, academics wasn’t his only focus, Cooper picked up a range of extra-curricul ar activities, which included playing guitar, school bands, Pedal Prix, interschool sporting competitions, STEAM Works, academic competitions, and student support, tutoring & mentoring.  Outside of school, he was learning to code games while also playing cricket, footy and touch football.

During his Year 12, Cooper’s priorities began to change and started to choose activities that he knew could enable him to grow and become a better person. Rather than just be driven to get the highest grades possible, he became more interested in having a fun and fulfilling year doing as much as he possibly could. With reducing his stress, he was able to enjoy class more and didn’t become burned out like in previous years.

“Between the realization that I did not need A+ grades to get into my desired course, the positive impact I could make on those around me and the enjoyment that I was getting from spending time with different people, I knew that this was the right decision. I still worked hard on my studies and pushed myself with all assignments but I no longer needed the A+ to feel proud of myself.”

This new outlook paid off as he was able to finish year 12 with outstanding grades, and even received a Governor of South Australia Commendation Award for his work across all aspects of school and in the community.

“I am proud to have been recognised alongside such amazing people and to have received the results I achieved. I know that without the activities and communities I was a part of over year 12, I would not have been able to succeed and push myself as I have. More importantly, however, I had met so many people, made a larger impact on the school and wider community and had the best year of my life. In my eyes, this is where I achieved the greatest success.”

Music and sport were two major interests that were instrumental into defining Cooper’s values and improve skills that have and will continue to be essential throughout his life in pursuit of success. Through sport, he learned to support others with a view to achieving a common goal. With Music, playing guitar facilitated him to develop public performance skills and gain confidence in being in front of an audience.  Without music or sport, he would not have had the confidence to put himself forward school government council and eventually Captain. It helped with his anxiety, public speaking and make better social connections.

“For me, leadership was never about being assigned a title. It was about taking the leading role and supporting those around me to achieve that common goal when the time called.”

It was actually a previous John Tilley Memorial award recipient Ryan D. (2016) speech whose words and actions inspired Cooper “…to not sit back and take it easy, but to put in the effort, make the most of the opportunities I am provided, and to make a difference to those around me. This was a turning point for me, not necessarily in my views towards schoolwork, but more in my pursuit of extracurricular activities and, most importantly, leadership.”

Tutoring students through peer mentoring after school each week gave Cooper the perfect opening to bond with others and become a friend that they could come to with issues. This was the groundwork for Cooper becoming a successful leader and provided more opportunities to improve his confidence and so could effectively communicate ideas and support those around him.

Cooper has now started a five-year course studying Mechanical Engineering with a double degree in Computer and Mathematical Science at Adelaide University. With the aim to take this degree and use it in the space industry which is growing here in Adelaide.

Our club is proud to support Cooper and wish him all the best in his pursuits in the future!

Please read more about the John Tilley Award by following this LINK