Tenelle’s carpentry a 20/20

The old saying, ‘You’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it,’ is usually associated with making negative decisions, but for Lewiston teenager, Tenelle Simons, the bed she made is proof she made all the right ones.

Tenelle achieved an impressive ATAR of 93.5 in her SACE studies last year and earned herself a prestigious Merit award in the subject of Furniture Construction (Material Products I).

Tenelle will attend a ceremony at Government House in Adelaide on February 5, where she will officially receive the award, indicating her achievement of sitting in the top 2 per cent of students in the state for that subject.

“Not bad for a girl who was unhappy at the beginning of Year 8 and undertook a massive commitment to travel to a distant school by car, train and bus,” her proud mother Jodie, said.

“I don’t adjust well to change,” Tenelle laughed.

Being accepted into and attending Urrbrae Agricultural High School in Netherby, about 5 km south-east of Adelaide city, Tenelle had to adjust to longer days and not knowing anybody.

“Most of the students were in the same boat,” she said, “but it didn’t take too long to settle in.”

Two of Tenelle’s uncles and her sister attended Urrbrae, so Tenelle herself underwent the rigorous application process and successfully gained entry, flourishing in the special interest school.

“The school gives students independence, and the kids who attend want to be there,” Tenelle said.

“There is a good support system there, it’s like a big family.”

Tenelle revealed she thrives on doing well and admitted that although Year 12 was stressful, she also enjoyed it, setting herself the task of achieving the best she could possibly achieve and making the decision to strive for a merit in Furniture Construction.

“I enjoyed the subject and I thought it would be good to have a few skills up my sleeve,” she said.

“The fact it is a male-driven subject got under my skin, there is a gender stereotype with it.

“I wanted a merit to prove you don’t have to be a boy to do it and get good grades.”

Tenelle designed herself a queen-sized bed with shoe rack and storage, coming up with the measurements and researching the strength of joints and finishes, the theory component being 50 per cent of her grade.

Along with 15 to 20 hours of study a week, Tenelle worked weekends at the Two Wells Bakery and continued her passion for calisthenics during the week, having very little down time.

“I did take a break from dancing in term three, you’ve got to be able to balance everything,” she said.

“So I would shut the laptop, put my books away and spend time with my family to maintain mental health.”

Tenelle has been accepted into the University of South Australia to study primary school teaching, fulfilling her desire to work with young people and have a positive impact on their lives.

“I see it as a job full of rewards, I don’t think I would ever get sick of it,” Tenelle said.

But if she ever does feel like a career change, she has enough skills under her tool-belt to try her hand at another trade.

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