Some might see these shiny school buses as just another nifty set of wheels. But to staff and students at Centralian and Palmerston Girls Academies, they are so much more.
“It’s a gateway to increased attendance and academic success,” said Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill, the senior development officer based at Centralian Senior College.
The Northern Territory Government provided four 12-seater buses through the Community Benefit Fund — and our communities are certainly benefiting.
Two buses operate out of Centralian Girls Academy, the second to be used by students at Centralian Middle School, and the other two will help drive success at Palmerston Girls Academy, which supports students at Palmerston College’s two campuses.
The buses enable the Academies to provide vital transport to and from school, as well as to excursions and other important events.
Samantha has worked at both campuses in Alice Springs and has seen many changes in the past five years. One of the most critical has been in transport.
“There was a time where we would have to use the school’s bus for any activity, which left us competing with the school and other programs booking for simple programming and transport requirements,” she said.
“The inclusion of a bus has allowed us so much freedom and ease in regards to activities, pickups and drop-offs, camps, trips and other transport requirements.”
Most importantly, reliable transport helps Girls Academy to meet its Big 4 Objectives: Increase school attendance, advance academic and personal achievement, improve Year 12 graduation rates, and facilitate post-school transitions.
“Attendance is vital to the success of our program and a student’s education, and transportation is often the biggest hurdle,” Samantha said. “The new Girls Academy bus allows us to provide more than just a vehicle.”
The students are pretty happy with their new ride, too. Aileen Matthews said the bus was “good because I can text Sam even when I miss the bus and there is a guaranteed way I can still get to school”, while Janaya Kopp said “if I need to go to an appointment I know I have a way of getting there and feeling supported”.
And there is more to come, with the Community Benefit Fund grant also providing two trailers, one for each Academy, which will be fitted out to suit operational needs. They will give staff so much more flexibility organising excursions and camps, among the many things they organise for the girls. We can’t wait to share some of those stories.
Thank you to the Northern Territory Government for its continued support of the Girls Academy program.