“I started at Fairholme in Grade 9, in 2013, and I was one of only two girls at the start of that year.”
Bettina Kobelt had flown in from Darwin, in the Northern Territory, after pleading with her Mother to send her away to boarding school.
“Since Year 5 I always wanted to be a Boarder. I clearly remember, without my Mum’s knowledge, requesting all these prospectuses from all over Australia - Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland. They all started arriving in the post, and Mum brought them to me and said, ‘Bettina - what is this?’”
Bettina, the eldest of three girls replied, “Please Mum? Please let me go.”
“I think she was confused as to why I wanted to go. She told me, ‘You’re not going to Victoria or New South Wales - it’s too far away. You can go somewhere in Queensland.’ And then my Grandparents moved to Toowoomba and Fairholme seemed the best choice.”
It took Bettina little time to settle into Fairholme for both School and Boarding. She made friends quickly, and was eager to learn.
Three years later Bettina found herself preparing for her Senior Formal, where all of her family would come together. Just before the big night, Bettina’s mum was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.
“It was the first time our entire family was going to be together – and she wasn’t there. But I got back to Darwin and I had all the photos we had taken.”
Bettina and her Mum’s personal battle against leukaemia was felt by dozens of Senior girls at this year’s Shave for a Cure, where Bettina shaved off her long locks. Moments before the shave, we spoke her Mum, Deborah, who was bursting with pride.
“Bettina told me if she is going to shave her head, then I have to shave off any growth mine’s had since chemotherapy, so we can be twins. She’s a very brave girl, and I am so proud of her.”
That day, the Senior girls raised more money than any other fundraising group in South West Queensland. More than $30,000 was sent to the Leukaemia Foundation.
“Everyone put in so much effort. For a lot of people, I think it hit close to home, because of Mum’s diagnosis.”
Only months later, Deborah lost her battle against Leukaemia. Bettina remembers how, in her darkest moments, her Fairholme family stepped in.
“I think a couple of days after I flew home - Mum was still in ICU - I got this massive package from the Boarding House. It was full of notes and cards from all these girls. It was such an amazing gesture for everyone to be thinking of me, and it was the first of many supportive gestures from Fairholme. When I got back, my teachers were so good at comforting me, helping me to grieve and also to get back on track with my studies. I think Fairholme is blessed to have the teachers that they have.”
Yet, the tragic events that unfolded in 2016 for Bettina would not define her Senior Year entirely. She has already been accepted into Law at Bond, with a Collegiate Scholarship.
“I thought I was interested in Family Law, but I’m developing a keen interest in Land Rights.”
Bettina starts at University on 9 January, and will complete three semesters in 2017.
“It’s kind of daunting to know that in less than two months I’ll be at Uni, but I’m ready.”
When asked if there was a favourite memory from 2016, this brave and inspirational young lady sighs, and says, “Gosh there are so many good times.”
“It was really great coming back in Term 3 after the holidays – everyone was kind of nervous, but also excited. It was this incredible but strange atmosphere, that we were about to tackle one of the hardest terms, with QCS and all the preparation involved, and Term 3 is the longest time away from family, as a Boarder. I think it was a really special, once in a lifetime feeling.”
Where will she be five years from now?
“Hopefully graduated from University and overseas. Preferably in Canada doing something amazing in the law sector.”