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Project K a lift for Sacred Heart student
Hutt News, Wellington  by Colin Williams
07 Nov 2017
General News - page 24 - 505 words - ID 870158195 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 412.00cm2

"I used to be afraid to speak up at college, now they can't get me to shut up," says Sorcha Stempa.

The 16-year-old's world is a much brighter and more exciting place then the one she inhabited 15 months ago.

"I thought I had a lot of great ideas back then but I just lacked confidence that people would listen to me.

"I remember a couple of times I wouldn't do a drama debate in case I was laughed at."

On Wednesday Sorcha was one of seven Project K graduates to receive national excellence recognition at the Graeme Dingle Foundation's Awards at Government House in Auckland She was a stand out in the Project K programme, completed over 15 months with her Sacred Heart College peers.

"This award means a lot to me," she said. "My confidence is the big difference, my self trust and awareness grew as did how I project myself on other people."

For Sorcha, the first Wellington award winner in seven years, Project K also meant she gained "a lifelong friend" in fellow Sacred Heart student Shreeya Singh.

"In two form years we never got along ... and we've become the best of friends, inseparable."

That in itself had been an important lesson, she said.

All Project K students are teamed up with a one-on-one mentor.

"My mentor was Michaela Heron. She's very political, like me, and she took me on my first visit to parliament.

"We went on day tramps and last year when I was having trouble with some bullying she was in contact with me every day.

We're still in contact and it'll remain that way."

Sorcha's Project K selection, based on a questionnaire and teacher input, came at the right time.

"I think a lot of people come to Year 9 thinking it's going to be great but it's hard work and after that Year 10 can be tough."

She is especially busy at Sacred Heart with debating, drama, the college's Amnesty Club, Duke of Edinburgh and netball.

"I've become far more social and with my netball I now get to know my teammates."

She is already looking ahead to life after college, studying political science at university and a career as a secondary school teacher.

Even later she would like to be in the political sphere in some way, she said.

Begun in 1995, the Graeme Dingle Foundation is a youth charity running school-based programmes including Kiwi Can, Stars, Career Navigator and Project K, for thousands of young New Zealanders.

Other 2017 Project K Excellence Award winners: Yashveer Kumar, One Tree Hill College, Auckland Kaylen Engu Key, Tangaroa College, Auckland Ofa Lavemaau, Northcote College, Auckland Amie Marchant, Otumoetai College, Bay of Plenty Carta Buckley, Mt Maunganui College, Bay of Plenty Emma Jeffery, Hornby High School, Canterbury "I just lacked confidence that people would listen to me."

Sorcha Stempa

Caption Text:
Sacred Heart College student Sorcha Stempa, 16, received a Project K Excellence Award from the Graeme Dingle Foundation. My confidence is the big difference. PHOTO: COLIN WILLIAMS/STUFF

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