Coolum State High School 38th Annual Celebration of Excellence



DID YOU see the AFL Grand Final?  Or, more precisely, did you see Robbie Williams’ spectacular pre-game performance?  Wow – now that’s how to engage an audience!  “My name is Robbie Williams,” he announced to 100 000 fans. “For the next 20 minutes, I will be phenomenal. So, you’d better be good!”  It was a masterclass in how music can bring people together as Williams had the colosseum of the MCG singing as one to John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice.” 

At the Coolum State High School ‘Celebration of Excellence’ which was held on Wednesday, September 14 we similarly embraced the same spirit as Robbie Williams, as high-quality musical performances enhanced the stunning achievements of Coolum High’s students in a stellar 2022 night of celebration.  For the last two years, we have brought our awards evening forward to allow our year 12 students the time and space to study for their all-important external exams in the final term, following the introduction of the ATAR system in Queensland’s schools. 

This year, a record number of students won GOLD awards that are calculated on their grade point average.  So many won gold, in fact, that silver awards had to be handed out at school and not awarded on the evening so that we could all fit into the Coolum State School hall.  Coolum High’s students greatly value their gold awards and work diligently to ensure they maintain the required average to win this coveted prize.  This year’s awards were made ultra-special by the return of one of Coolum High’s brightest stars, World Championship Tour surfer, Isabella Nichols, who lit up the evening with a magnificent motivational speech that was both humble and profound and landed perfectly with the students for whom she is the ultimate hero. 

The night itself was spectacular, brought brilliantly to life by a series of extraordinary performances and was pitch perfect from the moment Lyndon Davis, representing the Gubbi Gubbi traditional owners of the land, opened the evening with a traditional welcome followed by a magnificent dance performance from Coolum High’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.  From the multi-award-winning wind symphony to the sublime Giulia showcasing her extraordinary skills as a concert pianist that have seen her accepted into the Milan Conservatorium, the music was superb.  The introduction of Coolum’s “Big Band” gave us some swing, while Chelsea was pitch perfect with her rendition of “Jealous.”  Meanwhile, Josh Lillicrap, from year 7, had his own Robbie Williams moment, as he captivated the audience with his outstanding showmanship as he delivered a stirring presentation of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On.”  And, as fate would have it, the Coolum High staff and student choir finished the evening by rocking out an unforgettable version of “You’re the Voice,” nailing Farnham’s classic before Robbie did the same at the MCG. 

The Celebration of Excellence honours Coolum’s highest achieving students; it recognises those who have given back to their school and community, and it provides the most touching of moments – none more so than when Nisha Collins, from year 10, received a richly-deserved special award.  The evening culminates in the ‘Wandama Award,’ presented to the highest achieving year 12 student at the time of the awards ceremony (with the traditional “Dux” prize now held over until next year in keeping with the new system).  In the tightest of tight contests and amongst some supremely high-performing students, the Wandama Award was presented to Cooper Hinton!  Cooper’s achievement is a testament to his hard work and dedication, and he now joins 2021’s Kai Weith (later presented a Minister’s Award by the Honourable Grace Grace as one of the top two students on the Sunshine Coast) as the second winner of what has become a highly prestigious prize. 

As it stands, a night like the Celebration of Excellence doesn’t just happen and Alison Venning, Desley Francis and Emma Curnow deserve special praise, amongst so many who played a role, in putting the night together.  It truly was a remarkable night, and it was wonderful to share this with our community once again without COVID restrictions.  Congratulations to all award winners from the evening – your community is so proud of you!  

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