Ulladulla High School's Year 12 students take the school motto, Strive For The Summit, literally when it comes to celebrating and commemorating the end of their school years.
Ninety-six Year 12 students at Ulladulla High School took part in one of the most anticipated events of the school year this morning, with a hike up Didthul (more commonly known as Pigeon House Mountain) in the Morton National Park.
It has become a tradition at the school over the years for Year 12 students to commemorate the end of their high school years by catching the sunrise from atop Didthul on the last day before the end of their school year.
It’s an early start for the students and staff taking part, with buses departing the school at 3.30am and students beginning the challenging climb, in the dark, just after 4am.
Ulladulla High School principal Denise Lofts, who leaves even earlier to be the first to greet students as they reach the top (in suit and heels no less!), said the tradition is something the students and staff look forward to participating in.
“Climbing up Didthul has so many layers of meaning,” Ms Lofts said.
“We see climbing up Didthul as the perfect end for Year 12 and is a metaphor for our motto, Strive For the Summit, which also contains a picture of Didthul.
“Students know it’s part of the tradition and look forward to it. It bonds them as a group.”
The climb to the summit takes students approximately one and half hours, and while it’s not a race, a few of the more competitive students vie for the title of King and Queen of the Mountain, as the first male and female students to reach the summit.
“Julian Jansma-Smith and Jordan Rean were the King and Queen respectively this year with Julian taking just 32 minutes and Jordan 40 minutes,” Ms Lofts said.
“They get a token medal and bragging rights for life.”
Ms Lofts said what was most important about the climb was not coming first but that everyone made the climb.
“We always wait for the last person to achieve the summit,” she said.
“They are cheered and their achievement is as great as the first to arrive.
“All students acknowledge each person’s personal journey. The students who finish towards the end are usually the ones to get the biggest cheers.
“It’s such an encouraging environment. The students rely on themselves and their friends to get there and the teachers who take part are united around all of them too. It’s an achievement for everyone.
“It’s such a positive and empowering experience and a tradition we are very proud to see continue.”