Former Miss World Tess Alexander.
Former Miss World Tess Alexander. Richard Gosling

Life lessons and so much more learnt in the old school yard

With school back in this week for almost four million Australian children, we ask some Aussie celebs to remember their school days.

TESS ALEXANDER

Former Miss World Australia

Describe how you look back on your school days in one word?

Fondly.

What was the best thing about school?

School was pretty great! Where else do you get to hang out with your friends, have two breaks a day ... play, learn, grow. In my ever-changing schedule today, it's funny to think that the "structure” of a school day is what I'm admiring the most.

What was the worst?

I actually really enjoyed school but I will say that whatever day the "double period of maths” fell on - that was my least favourite day.

What did your teachers typically say about you on your school reports?

I think I was a pretty good kid in school. I was school captain and always hosting some form of assembly. My teachers would have probably said that I was responsible and reliable, but loved to have a chat.

What's your most vivid memory of something that happened to you at school?

The thing that I remember most vividly is the feeling of having such a great group of friends, hanging out at lunch, planning things for the weekend and honestly developing lifelong bonds. School is pretty special like that.

Did you have a nickname at school?

Not really. Because my name is already short, I never really had a nickname that stuck. But in saying that, I definitely tried to give everyone else nicknames because I desperately wanted one too!

Who was your most memorable teacher and why?

Looking back, I have a few teachers who made a positive impact in my developmental years. From primary school (Burleigh Heads State School) all the way to high school (Miami High), I was truly lucky to have some strong female figures to learn from, in lessons both inside and outside the classroom. Mrs Schwartz, Mrs Rarere, Mrs Smith, thank you.

What advice would you give to kids who're still at school?

Enjoy it! Don't wish it away. The real world can be challenging. As much as you want to grumble about it now, enjoy the structure of school. Learn from everything, socially and academically. Discover what you do and don't like and build the adult you want to be. Don't feel pigeonholed into a certain path. Anything is possible, you've just got to be brave enough to fight for it.

Catriona Rowntree.
Catriona Rowntree.

CATRIONA ROWNTREE

Channel 9 Getaway reporter (Getaway returns next month)

Describe how you look back on your school days in one word?

Rollercoaster would be the word that probably sums up the highs and lows of my school days. Mum says I was always an "inquisitive” student, but I'll admit I often felt I was on permanent detention for talking. I adored my friends but my sister was a total cow to me in the schoolyard. What amazes me now is how I use almost every day, in both my personal and professional life, the skills I picked up at school. For Getaway I often refer to my ancient history class; I wish I'd paid more attention in my French class and if Mum hadn't signed me up for speech and drama at eight, I would not have had the career I love today.

What was the best thing about school?

Definitely the friendships created that I still hold dear today. We still laugh our heads off about all the naughty things we got up to, roll our eyes over the teachers' antics and somehow look back on our time as a golden period in our lives that we got through together.

What was the worst?

At around 13 I was a bit of a lost soul, constantly in trouble for talking, always pushing the envelope and no doubt terrified about entering year 7 at 'the big school'. One day the headmistress called my name out in assembly and sent me to her office. She declared that "I'd never amount to anything” due to all my talking and suspended me "indefinitely”. However, that led me to a new school where the headmaster looked at my grades, which were strong in the humanities subjects like English, Art and History and said "you never know, one day you could be paid to talk!”. He totally supported my quirks, brought them to the fore by getting me into drama and debating and his prediction came true. Teachers have to be so careful with their words; equally students have to mind who they listen to and try to avoid the doomsayers.

What did your teachers typically say about you on your school reports?

"Catriona enjoys life to the full' was a remark Mrs Duke, my sixth grade teacher, wrote about my "autobiography” ... never a truer word spoken.

Did you have a nickname at school?

My sister said people called me Bugs Bunny behind my back when I was around 10 as I had a gap between my two front teeth. But then I got braces and went on to not only have a winning (gapless) smile but to host the Bugs Bunny Cartoon Show. I kinda miss that gap, apparently it's lucky, but up yours to my sister. "What's Up Doc!”

Who was your most memorable teacher and why?

I loved Mr Wannen, my ancient history teacher in senior school. Somehow he not only managed to make those history books come alive, but convinced our parents to let us go on a study trip in our summer holidays through Egypt and Greece. Now when I return to these places for work, I just want to honour him and all the teachers who have that amazing skill to inspire young minds. Love you, Mr Wannen!

What advice would you give to kids who're still at school?

I have a Top 10 that I often share if I'm asked to speak to young students ... 1. Be careful who you listen to. 2. Make your passion your profession. 3. I'm 99 per cent sure the person you're currently dating you will not marry (I cannot say 100 per cent as my sister married her childhood sweetheart). 4. Push what is unique about yourself. 5. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone. 6. You will survive if you can't do fractions. 7. Remember your karma; choose kindness. 8. Milk every opportunity; it goes so fast. 9. With a bit of effort, you will stay friends with those who you treasure. 10. Persistence leads to victory!

Jenny Woodward.
Jenny Woodward. Dylan Evans

JENNY WOODWARD

ABC weather presenter

Describe how you look back on your school days in one word?

That's very hard to do! Primary school: Trying. Secondary school: Encouraging.

What was the best thing about school?

Making lifelong friends.

What was the worst?

Being terrible at sport. I was enthusiastic but pretty hopeless. On sports day in Year 12 I went along and participated in the ball games but when it came to the individual running sprint, I held a protest and refused to take part. I knew I would come last, tying with another girl who was also sport challenged. I didn't need to run the race to confirm it so we both decided to sit it out and let the fast girls get on with it. We pitched our case with passion and good temper and the teachers didn't argue with us!

What did your teachers typically say about you on your school reports?

I was a curious child, known for talking too much, but I soaked up a lot of information. Let's just say I looked forward to seeing those report cards.

What's your most vivid memory of something that happened at school?

I will always remember when the science block burnt down in grade 12 - I seem to recall there was an unfortunate combination of items in the chemical storage cupboard! We had to walk to a nearby school to use their laboratories for our classes and that burning smell pervaded the school the rest of the year. At the time, it seemed very exciting and was, in reality, quite dramatic but sadly it led to the demise of our very small school. Ultimately we were the last high school class to ever go through there. It was very sad as I had grown to love the place along with many of my friends.

Did you have a nickname at school?

No, we weren't into nicknames.

Who was your most memorable teacher and why?

I had some great teachers so it's really hard to choose just one. I loved Mrs Reed, my English teacher, and Sister Magdalene, a Good Samaritan nun who was a great all-round teacher with a delicious sense of humour and piercing blue eyes, but if I have to pick I would choose Mrs Wentzel.

She taught speech and drama and had a great presence when she swept into the room. She was very tall, elegant and graceful. She instilled a love of language, theatre, performance and creativity. She demanded commitment and dedication to the subject and I was determined not to let her down. Her lessons and values have held me in good stead all my life.

What advice would you give to kids who're still at school?

School can be hard and days are long if you are not having any fun. There are always going to be things at school that you won't like, just get through them the best you can and don't be afraid or embarrassed about asking for help.

Find a friend or friends ... make sure you are kind to each other and look out for each other. I found early primary school very tough, but I grew in confidence and things got much easier by high school. Try and find a subject or activity you love. It doesn't matter what it is - math, science, sport or music. It's easy to work hard at something if you are enjoying it and you will look forward to that thing every day.

Natasha Exelby.
Natasha Exelby.

NATASHA EXELBY

News presenter and current I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here contestant

Describe how you look back on your school days in one word?

Perfect.

What was the best thing about school?

Drama.

What was the worst?

Maths.

What did your teachers typically say about you on your school reports?

That I was a very hard worker.

What's your most vivid memory of something that happened to you at school?

A not so funny story that most kids can relate to ... being teased quite a bit and being excluded from groups! And I know I said my school days were perfect and that includes what happened there because it made me stronger, it built resistance for the outside world because I knew what mean and ugly looked like and it made me prepared for it.

Did you have a nickname at school?

Tash.

Who was your most memorable teacher and why?

I had so many amazing teachers but my fave was Mrs Cameron. She was my Year 2 teacher and she gave me a Christmas card one year that said Natasha, you are going to be a famous writer one day. I know I'm not Hemingway but I am a journalist so Mrs. Cameron was on to something.

What advice would you give to kids who're still at school?

Try as hard as you can and make as many mistakes as possible because that is how you learn ... by failing!

Sam Heazlett.
Sam Heazlett.

SAM HEAZLETT

Brisbane Heat batsman

Describe how you look back on your school days in one word?

Always either writing, typing, talking or playing.

What was the best thing about school?

Sports lessons.

What was the worst?

Studying for exams.

What did your teachers typically say about you on your school reports?

Hardworking, intelligent but needs to be more open to change.

What's your most vivid memory of something that happened to you at school?

Tearing my quad playing touch football on the oval - painful and ruled me out of some things I wanted to do!

Did you have a nickname at school?

Sammy.

Who was your most memorable teacher and why?

Mrs Gravlev in grade 4 because she always found the right balance between work and play.

What advice would you give to kids who're still at school?

Try your best, enjoy the challenge of learning something that isn't easy at first and the satisfaction once you have mastered it.



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