2 - Andrew Harris

Name: Andrew Harris

Nickname: Twiggy

Years at Trinity: 2009-2014 (Yr 7-12)

OTG involvement: I got pretty involved straight after I finished. I kept in touch with certain teachers and ended up coaching the 7C’s soccer team. Through that I realised I really loved helping out – going back and doing the stuff I did as a kid. From there I went and helped out on Learning Journeys and Somers Camp and all through that I made a lot of connections. Then later, with Jenny Herbst, I helped start up the Mentoring program which is still running now. So I’ve had quite a lot of involvement, and it wasn’t really until early this year that I really stepped away for the first time.

What drove you to start the Mentoring program?

I guess I saw that there were a lot of boys at the school who had the potential to slip through the cracks. And being the kind of school Trinity is, obviously we want to be able to support all the kids, but sometimes perhaps that’s not a role a teacher can play. Sometimes, just for the nature of the boy, they need something else. So I thought there was a market in looking to pair up students with old boys and looking to form a relationship like that. When it started, I started to see some results and I started to see kids improving and enjoying school. So I thought, “Well, this is something we can keep doing and keep building,” and luckily its grown and lot of kids have benefitted off it, so I think it’s a really worthwhile thing.

Did you have any experiences where you felt you would’ve benefitted from having an OTG mentor?

Yeah, I guess everyone in their time experiences some kind of hiccups. I was lucky in that I kind of went through school fairly comfortably, but I definitely know of boys who would have benefitted from it, and now I know boys who have benefitted from it. I was very lucky that I had good friends around me, and I always felt like I was able to approach teachers and talk to them, but not everyone feels that comfortable in school.

What was your pathway out of school?

The aim was always to do Arts at Melbourne. That was the degree I always wanted to do. And I got there, but for me personally, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I mean, it was good, and I just finished it, but I left feeling a bit unfulfilled. I struggled a bit the first year out – away from the structure of Trinity and the support. The sense of community is a bit lost at Uni. Otherwise, I just finished my degree and I’m off travelling now, and I’m learning a lot more from being away than I did at Uni. I think some of the things I learnt at Trinity are now really piquing my interest, being away and learning about different people and cultures.

What sorts of lessons have you learnt from your experiences overseas?


I think mainly a growing perspective, to fully appreciate what we have in Australia and at Trinity. To fully appreciate the part of the world you live in, you have to see how other people do it. I’ve seen a lot of countries that have been affected by war, and by oppressive governments and political systems, which obviously makes me very grateful for where I’ve come from. I think I’ve come back to Australia with more of an open mind. I really want to give back some of the hospitality I’ve been shown, and just to really embrace different cultures, because we can learn from them. And to always be hungry to learn more, and not just from a book - I’ve learnt so much from just travelling and talking to cab drivers and staff in cafes – you just meet people and you learn.

So where have you actually been?

It’s a bit all over the shop. I started in Japan and then Morocco, then the rest has been in Europe. I’ve pretty much done half the countries in Europe, starting in Russia, then working through Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Central Europe and now coming into Western Europe. So I’ve been very, very lucky to do that, I’ve met a lot of people, learnt a lot of things, had some things go well and some things go not so well. But that’s all part of it – travelling’s one of the best things you can do because it actively bridges cultures and brings people together. That’s what you’re taught at Trinity, to be a person who can go out into the world, share your culture and learn about other people.

Was there any lesson in particular you learnt at Trinity which may have helped you in your travels, and becoming the person you are today?

Oh, there were lots. But if I were to pin it to something specifically, I guess it would have been Ed Plant. He was one of my earlier school captains, and one his mottos that he’d say at assemblies would be ‘Just give it a crack.” Some of the things I’ve done while overseas have really been outside my comfort zone. I’ve hitch-hiked, I’ve couch-surfed – I stayed on the couch of someone I don’t know. I’ve been prepared to put myself out there and give it a crack, and I think the times I’ve done that have created the best memories.

You mentioned earlier that you helped out on Learning Journeys and the Somers program. Why? What was it about those programs that drew you back?

Mainly the impact they had on me. With Learning Journeys, especially in this day and age, promoting emotional wellbeing in young males is really important. As young men, there are obviously a lot of things we struggle with – mental health and social dynamics for example – and we’re not always given the opportunity to express that. So I think a program like Learning Journeys is really good to help teach kids at a very young age that it’s alright to be open emotionally and be able to ask for and give support. I think Somers grows on that – it focusses more on leadership, but leadership is not always about the kids up the front who have official roles, it’s about the everyday Trinity boys who can practice being a leader. That was kind of the category I fell into, and you can really have an influence over a lot of people. I think teaching leadership skills to everyone is really important – it doesn’t matter about the title on the pocket or the badge, it’s about how you form relationships with other people.

What’s the plan now?

The next few years, what I’d like to do is more of what I’m doing. Working and travelling around the world. I believe that in youth, especially coming from a place that gives me the ability to go out and help people, I’d like to do that. I’d like to go work in Africa, Asia, South America… I’d love to meet people and whilst we’re young we have the most potential to help people. Who knows, maybe in a couple years I’ll settle down and get cracking in that sense, but at the moment, I’m happy cruising and meeting people, learning, helping. That’s the plan. Not much of a plan, but that’s the plan.




Bit of a curveball. What’s the worst piece of advice you got?

Ooh. That’s a good question, actually. I think there’s a lot of dialogue about finishing school and starting Uni – about finishing school as being kind of a means to an end. It’s kind of like, “You finish school, so that you get a score, so that you can go to Uni.” I think the worst bit of advice is just that the next step after school is Uni. And that is what I did, but I think that better advice would just be to do what you want to do. Really bad advice is when you just get told to go down a certain path. To contrast, I think the best bit of advice I’ve been given is just a little mantra, which is: “You don’t have to know what you want to do, you just have to know what you want to do next.” And that’s a little mantra I try to live by. It shows that I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing in 10 years. If what I want to do next is travel, I’m going to travel; if I want to work, I’ll work. And I think forcing kids down a path, like Uni, that they don’t want to go down is the worst bit of advice you can give someone.

I’ll let you go soon, but one final question, what’s something we don’t know about you?

Hmmm. Maybe one thing people don’t know about me is that I’ve had some pretty big mental health struggles since finishing school. I think it’s something that perhaps can be taboo, but a reason why I’m happy sharing it is because I think that we all should be comfortable sharing, and good at learning to ask for help. I guess now I also I want to help let people know that it is something that a lot of people face, and it’s part of life. I guess that’s something I may have chosen to hide from certain people because I didn’t want them to view me differently. But it is part of me and it’s part of my journey – I guess that’s something people might not know about me.

Sorry, one more question. Do you think that also be a reason as to why you see so much value in Learning Journeys and Somers?

Yeah, of course. I mean, when I was doing Learning Journeys in Yr 8 I didn’t have those sorts of struggles, but a program like Learning Journeys that teaches those skills of expression and openly sharing have probably helped me down the line, because I think those are skills that, as guys, we’re not usually promoted to learn. But seeing the amount of people who are struggling with mental health issues, we really need to be pushing to teach kids at a young age that it’s alright not to be alright.

1 - Chirs Amiconi

Name: Chris Amiconi

Nickname: Ammers

Years at Trinity: 1996-2001 (Yr 7-12)

OTG Involvement: OTGAFC player since 2002

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?

I think that relationships matter. I got that from Tummy Purcell, his advice was more along the lines of, “If you get your relationships right in the classroom, then the teaching will take care of itself.” The boys will work for you. And I’ve definitely seen that in action. Another one, still related to teaching and relationships, would be that “If we can’t support a student, then who else can?” I think that we’re one of the best equipped of any schools to support any student, so we want to make sure we support each student – because if we can’t, who can?

Why’s that?

I think it’s the values-driven approach we have to schooling. If we have a greater understanding of each student, that means we have a greater ability for holistic support. It’s not just one particular aspect of life, it’s more about the holistic view of supporting a child. And we’ve got the resources, the staff, the nurturing culture and environment to do that.

Where do you think that comes from?

Probably through the generations of co-curricular programs we’ve had at the school, which have been a mainstay for 30 or 40 years. They’ve been fine-tuned and tweaked through the sheer amount of people who have gone through those programs.

What programs do you mean?

The outdoor education, the Leppitt and Somers programs. The House System being such an integral part of the school. The fact that Saturday sports are compulsory – that it’s not just about the results, it’s about participating in the sport, it’s about recognising that you may not be great at something but pursuing it anyway and having a lot of fun on the way. The programs just allow boys to try different things, find things they are good at, and also involve themselves in things they might not be so good at. Being involved in so many things means you’re going to find friends and build relationships in different places as well.

You would’ve experienced those programs as a student and as a teacher now. How have you found comparing those experiences?

I think the main similarity is that I loved all those programs as a kid and I love them all as a staff member as well. Which is great, because I think when you love doing something, that is infectious. Other staff want to be involved and other students want to be involved – when I see a staff member involved in something I perhaps haven’t tackled or been involved with in the past, then I want to tackle it. And that was pretty much how I was as a student. I took up touch rugby as an extra sport having absolutely no idea about it, but having a couple mates who played it and loved it. That’s probably also how I fell into stuff like bushwalking. Now bushwalking’s never been in the Amiconi name, but I saw one of my mates loving it, so I came along and tried it and I loved it too. That feeling of trying something you never would have because you saw the passion someone had for it – it’s just as real for me as a staff member now as it was for me when I was a student.

What was your path after school?

I did a Gap Year at a prep school in the UK for a year. I guess that sort of solidified my pathway, that I really wanted to get into teaching. Then I came back and did an Arts and Science degree as part of the old Melbourne Model, and did teaching after that. I took some time off, went overseas and travelled for a bit in between, then spent 5 years at Kew High. After that I took another year of unpaid leave, travelled for a year and then came to Trinity the year after.

Did you always know you wanted to come back to Trinity?

Obviously I always loved the school, so it was definitely in the back of my mind, but I was far from set on the idea. I guess the opportunity arose at the right time, when I was ready. I saw an ad for Trinity and thought, “Well, maybe now’s the right time.”

Have you got a favourite memory of Trinity?

My favourite memories are things like just stuffing around at lunchtime. I remember playing tennis ball soccer in the Batson Quadrangle as a Yr 7 or 8, and through Yr 9 and 10 playing downball against the wall outside the old Careers office by the senior toilets. Year 12 was just the bottle game, throwing a water bottle around the common room where you might have to clap before you catch it, then building the most absurd rules upon rules on top of that. All my greatest memories are just mucking around with mates – Agapanthus wars were great! You’d rip out the whole agapanthus stem and flick it against your leg and send the bud flying at one of your mates. Just testing to see how far you could push it before you got sprayed. It’s all coming back to me now.

Is there anything you regret lading up to where you are now?


I don’t think I regretted anything from school. I probably could have worked harder, but I got where I wanted to. I think my greatest regret was probably not doing the thing that I loved straight after school. I mean, I went to Uni, I went out, but I didn’t pursue things I loved – like being in clubs and societies, doing social services. I sort of just went through the motions for four or five years. I reckon that was the period in my life where I wasn’t as happy as I have been in all other times of my life. That’s just because I wasn’t doing the things I loved, which I had been at school and have been in all other times of my life.

You were School Captain in 2001. How did that happen?

That’s a great question! I’ve got no idea how it happened, because there were definitely a number of guys in my year level who were probably a lot more qualified than I was to be School Captain. I guess that was one of the hard things initially. I mean, I was the second School Captain in about 15 years not get 99 as an ATAR. So the role really wasn’t something that I was expecting, but I loved it. But I think I was given the position because I loved mixing with people, and what I learnt was that’s the role of School Captain – it’s not about making miraculous speeches or being an incredible sportsman. Obviously, it’s good to try at everything, but it’s all about knowing as many of the Yr 7s as you possibly could. You know, relationships matter. The little gestures, the efforts you make to go watch someone play House sport, or going to Bulleen early to watch the 8B footy game before your game, then acknowledging a kid on Monday who you saw on the weekend. I think that’s probably why I got recognised and given the role.


Do you think the role transformed you at all?

I don’t think it did. When I was appointed School Captain, I was really unsure of how to proceed, I was really nervous about how I was going to be. But one of the best pieces of advice I was given then was from a couple of staff saying to me, “You’ve been appointed because of who you are, so don’t change who you are.” I guess that was my mantra throughout Yr 12. I certainly wasn’t the perfect School Captain, I certainly wasn’t the perfect student during Yr 12. I still made mistakes and upset teacher. I think Mr Hillman had to rip up a Friday detention that I got from one of my teachers because we couldn’t have the School Captain getting a Friday! So no, I don’t think it did change me. I hope it didn’t.