Most people don’t get the chance to don a graduation cap and set foot on the Great Hall stage until they’re in their 20s.
But almost 300 students aged seven to 14 did that last night, at the inaugural Children’s University Newcastle Graduation.
The schools represented at Tuesday’s graduation ceremony were Cessnock, Kitchener, Wyong, Cooranbong, Islington, Waratah West and Jesmond primary schools, Newcastle High School and Callaghan College Wallsend Campus.
The University of Newcastle is one of three universities in Australia implementing the program, which encourages children between to be “curious learners” by participating in activities beyond the school curriculum.
Students involved in the program receive a passport where their hours are recorded and stamped by registered organisations, referred to as “learning destinations”.
Students who have achieved 30 or more hours of extracurricular learning throughout the year have the opportunity to graduate in the university’s Great Hall in full academic dress.
Cessnock Public School offered the program to all students in years three to six, and had 94 students take part in the graduation ceremony.
Relieving principal Stephen Morgan said students accessed a diverse range of extracurricular learning opportunities and were inspired to become life-long learners.
Cessnock year four student Lilly Vasilis enjoyed the activities.
“I really loved learning about science with the students from the university,” she said. “I’m very excited about graduating.”
Children’s University Newcastle program coordinator Selina Darney said the graduation ceremony gave students and their families the opportunity to celebrate their achievements.
“This important milestone creates opportunity for discussion among families about tertiary education options and encourages communities to support life-long learning initiatives,” she said.
Ms Darney said the program was supported by 58 learning destinations.
“The variety of activities … allows students to explore and learn new skills, enabling them to be curious about the world around them,” she said.