Students learn perseverance on massive 20 hour trek
THE most rewarding experience in 30 years of teaching came for Dalby State High School Year 12 co-ordinator Karen Marini as she watched her cohort cross the finish line at the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge at the weekend.
Six teams of Dalby State High School seniors walked the hinterland track this year, three in the 48km event and three in the 96km.
Mrs Marini was overflowing with pride for her students, who had been on both a physical and emotional journey during more than 20 hours of trekking.
"It was very inspirational, they dug deep and showed what they were made of,” she said.
"We do a lot of preparation for it but the thing we really stress to them the whole time is it's not just the physical challenge that you're setting for yourself, it's a mental and an emotional one as well.
"To watch them come over the line, the smiles and then the immediately breaking into tears and the blisters and the hobbling, it's an emotional roller-coaster.”
Mrs Marini first planted the Kokoda Challenge seed in her students' heads on their first day of Year 8 when she took on the cohort and has watched them all grow since.
"From the minute I took them on I told them I'm their mum at school and if they do the wrong thing I'm there to give them the metaphorical smack on the backside and if they do something amazing I'll be the first one there to give them a hug and say well done and I was. I was at the finish line to give them a hug and say 'you're incredible and I can't believe how amazing you are',” she said.
"This last weekend was another piece of the puzzle that's going to make them the amazing adults I've seen developing over the last few years.”
Mrs Marini has been impressed not only by her students' resilience but how the experience brought them together.
"Hearing them comparing their blisters and talking about which bit was hardest and at what bit were you ready to give up and what made you keep going and all those sorts of things, it's just that support of one another. To see them pull together as a cohort is incredible,” she said.
Mrs Marini said she believed the challenge had taught her students to remain strong and persevere when times get tough, a skill they can apply later in their lives. She was also extremely appreciative of the Dalby State High Kokoda Challenge organiser Cheryle Williams, who pulls the challenge together and without whom the students wouldn't have the opportunity.