By Ben Hope
AT the end of his Year 12 studies, Kooweerup Secondary College student Luke Ing will have a lot to look back on.
The 18-year-old can already fix a car, cook a feast and survive in the outdoors, thanks to his ambitious approach to education and his participation in the Duke of Edinburgh award.
Starting in Year 9, Luke completed the Duke of Edinburgh bronze medal by taking part in camping trips as part of the outdoor education program.
“I’m glad I did it, it was a great experience,” Luke said.
He enjoyed the experience so much he signed up for the silver medal program in Year 10 and spent six months completing the three required activities, a sport, a skill and as a volunteer.
“My sport was basketball and my skill involved working in a mechanic shop where I learned a whole lot of really useful skills,” Luke said.
“I had the opportunity to fit exhausts, change brakes and learn basic mechanics.”
“For my volunteer work I coached an Under 12 basketball team which was also really rewarding.”
The medal also involved a five-day camp paddling 64 kilometres of the Murray River.
Kooweerup Secondary College outdoor education teacher Christie Wilson said the program helped students to develop a range of abilities that set them up for the rest of their lives. Ms Wilson introduced the program to the school five years ago and said Luke was the first student to complete the program.
“I completed the program when I was a student, it is a lot of hard work,” she said.
“The kids have to do volunteer work, get involved in sports and learn new skills. Luke is our first to finish the gold medal but there are a few kids hot on his heels.”
Ms Wilson said Luke would be an asset to anyone who employed him once he completed his study.
“I am really proud of him, he is such a dedicated student and he has learned so many great skills to help him in later life,” she said.
Finishing his silver medal in December 2008, before the end of the month Luke began working for his gold medal.
“I started the gold medal straight away with an eight-day camp on the Overland track in Tasmania,” he said.
“There were 14 of us in the group, including a couple of teachers.”
An added requirement for the gold medal was a residential project that saw Luke take charge and run his own Murray River Camp.
“This time we paddled 74 kilometres over five days,” he said.
“It was a fantastic experience for me, I had to take charge and learn about leadership. One night I made the choice to return to a caravan park because of a storm. It wasn’t safe to stay in the elements so I made the decision to return early.”
Since completing his Duke of Edinburgh medals Luke continues to work in the mechanic shop as a part-time employee.
“The boss asked me to start working for him part-time because he enjoyed spending the time to teach me. I put in the same effort when I was getting paid as I do now, I am still eager to learn,” he said.
Luke is currently in his last year of VCAL and is doing a part-time chef’s apprenticeship. Once he finishes school he hopes to get work on a cruise ship where he can continue to learn and see the world at the same time.
“I am really glad I did the program, at the end of the year I will have a lot to look back on and help me through,” he said.
By Ben Hope