James Cai started at GVGS in 2012 as a Year 5 student. His parents were both born in China, and the family relocated to the Goulburn Valley in the mid 1990’s. “I think moving to Shepparton was partly motivated by them wanting to send my brother and I to GVGS,” he says. “They moved here about 20 years ago and heard about this new private school.”
James has a perfect attendance record for the whole eight years he has been at GVGS, having incredibly never missed a single day of school, and credits his parents for instilling in him a strong work ethic in order to reach this achievement. “My dad had an accident when he was younger and missed almost an entire year of schooling because of it,” James says. “So my parents have always told me about the importance of attending school and making the most of every opportunity.” It wasn’t just James’ parents that drove home the importance of attending school every day, though, as his older brother Jacob (Class of 2016) had a commendable attendance rate as well. “My parents used my brother as an example all the time,” he says. “If Jacob didn’t miss a day of school then neither did I.”
Born and raised in Shepparton, James has intentions to relocate to Geelong in 2020 and commence studying optometry at Deakin University. “I did consider having a gap year and taking some time for myself,” he says, “but I’ve decided to just head straight down to uni…I think it’ll be a good opportunity to move away from home and get to know myself better.” James says that the opportunities that were available to him during his schooling have played a big role when it came to deciding to relocate for university. “The school camps were one of my favourite things over the years,” he says. “The Year 9 Urban Experience was great, and it definitely influenced my decision to move down there to study…it was good to experience the inner-city life and a totally different lifestyle.”
James also speaks highly of his teachers and the direction they have provided him, which has led to his decision to continue on with his studies. “The staff are the best thing about this school,” he says. “They push me, but at the same time they’ve been really patient with me as well.” James notes that although strong academic results are important, his family have always wanted him to be a well-rounded person. “My family recognises the importance of doing well and not just in terms of getting high results, but the work ethic that you develop during that time,” he says.
Reflecting on his time at GVGS, James says that 2019 has been a standout year for him. “Year 12 has definitely been the best year of school for me because I really started getting to know people so well and got involved in a lot of extracurricular activities,” he says. “Music is something I really enjoy and I’ve been playing the piano more recently…I’ve been involved with the Environmental and Sustainability Group too.” He also says he owes a lot to the strong school culture at GVGS of achieving and doing well in everything you pursue. “A lot of students have parents who come from working class backgrounds and recognise the importance of a good education so we can achieve our long term goals,” he says. “I think it’s very important to be surrounded by people who are on the same page as you.”
Year 12 Coordinator, Mrs Pohlner says James demonstrated a particularly positive approach to all aspects of school. “James is a respectful young man who has applied himself to his studies with consistency, not only in Year 12 but throughout his enrolment at the school since Year 5. James has ensured that he has supported the school and its programmes through active participation in the annual House Carnivals, numerous academic competitions and this year, the philanthropic efforts of the Year 12 Leavers’ Fund.”