|17 Apr 2023|
With just under a month until our Seussical cast take to the stage, we spoke to Sam about his time at Arden and life beyond school.
Commencing at Arden in Year 7, 2016, Sam believes it was the people who made his time at Arden enjoyable. “Arden was (and still is) a connected community,” he says. “Everyone cares for one another and the fantastic support network within the School is wonderful. I felt blessed to learn in an environment of joy which was created by the commitment and passion of my teachers.” The cohesive nature of Sam’s cohort, combined with their sense of fun, resulted in many memorable experiences. He vividly remembers that day in 2018 when the School held a farewell ceremony for the old Basketball courts prior to the construction of the Essex building. “We had speeches, songs and one final goal was scored in the cage – a fitting goodbye!” From laughing uncontrollably at breakfast on Year 9 Duke of Edinburgh camp, to magnificent bush walks through the now burnt-out sugar pine forest in Tumbarumba on Country Experience, school camps proved to be unforgettable adventures.
In Year 7, Sam involved himself in Theatresports, a co-curricular activity he continued until Year 12. The supportive and fun environment of the drama room helped him to become a confident improviser and to grow as a person. “Working as a team alongside others who are talented and passionate about Theatresports made this my favourite co-curricular activity.” Winning the Senior Division of the Australian Theatresports Schools Challenge in Year 12 was certainly a highlight. Sam’s passion for Theatresports continues today. He regularly competes at the Improv Comedy Cagefight in a team with other Arden alumni and is looking forward to competing at the Sydney Comedy Festival this year against 42 other teams for a prize of $3,000.
Image: Sam (second from right) and Arden's winning Theatresports team at the Australian Theatresports Schools Challenge in Year 12, 2021.
Arden’s strong Christian ethos was valued by Sam and encouraged him in his walk with God. Vine, our co-curricular student Christian group, had a significant impact on him. “Attending since Year 7, I grew in my faith through understanding the character of God and His wonderful love and plans for us.” Sam continues to be heavily involved in his church, where he leads the Years 8 and 9 boys at youth group. “It is such a blessing to watch them grow in their love for Jesus and fellowship with each other.”
In 2021, Sam had the privilege of being the School Captain and led a committed group of Prefects. This provided him with the opportunity to develop his leadership skills and foster the gifts, talents and abilities of others. “To this day, our [Prefect] motto of 'Shine with _____' stays with me. We had a vision to encourage all students to consider how they can shine as themselves and shine for others.” The School Community was challenged to fill in the blank with one of their God-given gifts which they could use to better the world around them. One of the highlights of this role was organising Boys’ Bash, the annual fundraising event for Beyond Blue. “Raising a record amount for Beyond Blue provided much reward for my heart, and watching the male community of Arden come together to have a conversation about men’s mental health was exceptional.”
Sam is currently studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary and Special Education) at the Australian Catholic University. His passion for performance and the artistic world of drama, along with his desire for an inclusive world led him down this path. “I have always loved working with kids, being a leader, helping people, being creative and sharing my passions and I truly believe that teaching is the combination of all of these elements and much more.” He also credits his Arden teachers as having an influence on his choice of study. “My teachers for Years 11 and 12 were inspiring, hard-working and passionate people who helped me achieve beyond what I could have imagined. I really enjoyed Ms McGowan’s sense of fun, Mr Henderson’s passion, Mrs Middleton’s caring nature, Ms White’s humour and Mrs McDonald’s gentle and kind heart.” Almost eighteen months into his studies, Sam is enjoying exploring the depths of education and is beginning to grasp what being an educator is truly like.
As the Assistant Director of Seussical, Sam has been integral to building a positive culture amongst the cast and implementing the artistic vision of the Director, Samantha McGowan. The role has affirmed his desire to become a teacher. It has ignited his passion to work creatively with children and he has found joy in watching the students use and develop their God-given talents. “As an audience member, you will be blown away by how seamlessly these kids transform into the world of Dr Seuss,” says Sam. “Expect to be transported to your childhood. We all grew up with Dr Seuss, so prepare to watch your favourite characters come alive and dream of all the thinks you can think! ”