Alumni News

Caitlin Spears (Class of 2011)

Tintern Grammar Alumna Caitlin Spears Class of 2011, graduated at the VCA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) and has gone on to perform in musicals, operas and plays all over the world! Caitlin founded her own production company SPEARS ENTERTAINMENT, an Independent Theatre and Arts company based in Melbourne. We congratulate Caitlin for her role in the cast of Hairspray the musical as Tracy Turnblad standby. We were delighted to see she starred in several shows throughout the Melbourne season and wish her chookas for the upcoming shows in Sydney and Adelaide.

Scotty James (Class of 2013)

We were thrilled to have Scotty James Class of 2013, world champion snowboarder, visit our Junior School on Friday 5 August with his brother Sean. Our Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ students enjoyed an interactive and fun assembly in Scotty’s honour. With lots of memories of Scotty’s time at Tintern Grammar and highlights of his Olympic career, the boys and girls interviewed Scotty and presented him and Sean with a medal. Thank you Scotty for your visit. 

Congratulations Scotty James for winning gold in the Snowboarding Mens Half Pipe at the World Cup Copper Mountain (USA) on Friday 16 December (US time). He earned a near-perfect 99.00 score on his second run in the men’s final.

Maddie Wright (Class of 2016)

Congratulations to Maddie Wright from the Class of 2016 who was a member of the winning Women’s Australian team at the Indoor Cricket World Cup series in October. Maddie is no stranger to international competition, prior to COVID, she played in the U22 Australian squad in Sri Lanka, Dubai and NZ. She captained the U22 team in Sri Lanka and was to lead the Team in a World Cup but COVID hit and she missed out. With a World Cup under her belt, we wish Maddie every success in 2023.

Laura Driessen (Class of 2010)

Laura has loved space for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she attended the Professor Harry Messel International Science School (ISS) at the recommendation of Mrs Derry in year 11 that she realised that she could be a scientist. Laura graduated from Tintern in 2010 after receiving a Premier’s Award for VCE biology, the Monash Prize, and Science Dux. As well as attending ISS, Laura went to the National Youth Science Forum in 2010.

Laura was accepted into her dream undergraduate course – a Bachelor of Science (Science Scholars Program) at Monash University. In her second year of university, Laura was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Warwick in the UK on exchange. While she was there, Laura was selected to attend a student forum in Meknes, Morocco.

At the end of her third year of university, Laura was selected for a studentship at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth. While she was there she was the first person to image the Galactic Centre of the Milky Way using the then brand-new Murchison Widefield Array Telescope. She graduated from Monash University with a high distinction average and majors in astronomy and astrophysics, and applied mathematics. Two days after her final exam she was on a plane to Europe for a studentship at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON). Her two studentships inspired her to apply for a master’s degree overseas, and she received a merit scholarship to attend the University of Amsterdam. Laura completed her master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam in 2017 and was awarded the De Zeeuw-van Dishoeck prize for the best astrophysics master’s thesis in the Netherlands, as well as the first prize for best astrophysics master’s thesis and second prize for best astrophysics master’s thesis presentation at the University of Amsterdam.

In 2021 Laura completed her PhD at the University of Manchester. She is now back home in Australia, working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the CSIRO working with some of the biggest radio telescopes in the world. Telescopes like ASKAP right here in Australia, trying to find flaring stars. (If we know which ones flare, we know where not to look for life.) Most things a radio telescope sees in the sky are galaxies, Laura works on sorting out what’s a star and what’s not.  She recently visited the Pia Wadjarri Remote Community School in the Murchison in WA to do some workshops with the students and share the amazing science done with the telescopes on their land. The Christmas-tree like antennas, in some of the images in her gallery, are the SKA-low prototype antennas, the SKA is going to be the largest telescope in the world and the SKA-low is going to be built at the observatory in the Murchison, which Laura will be using to search for new radio stars. In some of her images you will also notice an antenna dress which she sewed herself from an old cloth banner advertising the SKA-low, turning it into an ‘SKA dress’.

Congratulations Laura on all of your amazing accomplishments since finishing at Tintern.

Kate Jenkins (Class 1985)

Kate Jenkins Class of 1985 is Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner and a member of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Her work is to advance gender equality, consistent with the Sex Discrimination Act and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Kate presented an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday 30 November. To find out more visit:

Sanya Bhatia (Class of 2016)

Current long serving Head of English, Chris Millgate-Smith, brought to our attention the recent achievements of alumna Sanya Bhatia who recently published her memoir. Sanya was inspired by a memoir Chris taught whilst studying at Tintern and when Sanya finished in 2016, she thought, ‘It’ll be cool to pen down selective experiences from my journey as an international student.’
And so, she did, six years later. No, I don’t speak Indian is written from teen Sanya’s point of view. As a child, she moved around a lot because of her father’s job. Sanya left India when she was 12 and has moved back and forth a number of times. Now back in Australia, Sanya reflects, ‘It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. When I left India in 2010, I experienced a big culture shock in Malaysia, which amplified even more when I moved to Australia. There have been ups, downs and a lot of awkward/funny interactions in this process, but looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way.’
Sanya hopes to create more awareness for international students and those relocating. One reviewer commented recently it would be ‘a fantastic read for those who haven’t moved house in their lifetime.’ We think it is a great read for everyone, congratulations Sanya.
Published in July 2022, No, I don’t speak Indian can be purchased in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon:

Adam Blazevic (Class of 2017)

Congratulations to Adam Blazevic from the Class of 2017 who competed in the Inaugural UCI Gravel World Championships in Italy in early October.

Although medical issues cut Adam’s ride short, he was pleased with his performance and we are all extremely proud of his achievement. Adam came in as the top ranked UCI gravel rider and competed with top-level pro road tour riders and extreme mountain bike specialists.

Penelope Thwaites AM (Class of 1960) Avenue of Excellence Inductee

Penelope is a world renown pianist and composer. During her time at Tintern, Penelope was School Pianist and a member of the Madrigal Group from 1958-60 and Somner House Captain in 1960 as well as editing The Brook. In 1963, she was invited by Miss Constance Wood to set Psalm 121 to music as the School Psalm.

She went on to complete a Bachelor of Music at the University of Melbourne, winning the Ormond Exhibition, and being placed first in her final year. Further studies in London led to her concert debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1974.

Since then, Penelope has performed and broadcast in over 30 countries, in recitals and as a concerto soloist with the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and other leading orchestras in Australia, Europe and the USA.

She has composed extensively for the theatre and other genres, and her musical Ride! Ride! was produced in London’s West End. A committed advocate for Australian composers, regularly including Australian repertoire in her programs, she founded and chaired the Performing Australian Music Competition (London 2001 and 2008) attracting participants from 20 countries. She is recognised worldwide as a leading exponent of the music of Percy Grainger.

Penelope was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2001 for services to Australian music and served from 2013-19 as Chairman of the Order of Australia Association UK/Europe. Penelope was an inaugural inductee of the Tintern Grammar Avenue of Excellence in 2017.

In 2020 Penelope released From Five Continents on the SOMM label, presenting a collection of choral music and songs. A new recording of her instrumental music: works for two pianos and for small chamber ensemble, entitled Gardens, Fables, Prisons, Dreams will be released by SOMM early in 2023.

Recently, ABC Classic featured Penelope in a story that celebrates her dedicated career in music. The full article can be found on the ABC website: 

Annabelle McKenzie (Class of 2018)

Alicia Cornwell (Class of 1981)

Congratulations to Alicia for winning the Still Life Award at the Art Lovers Australia Prize 2022 for her painting Turquoise Waratah on Australiana. Alicia is a painter specialising in oils and still life. She works daily in her 100-year-old garden studio that backs onto the National Park and the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens. We congratulate her on these outstanding achievements and wish her all the best for the future.

Genevieve Ward (Class of 2012)

Genevieve is Director of The Speech Express, one of the very first speech pathology clinics in Victoria to integrate therapy dogs into therapy services. Genevieve is an experienced speech pathologist who has provided evidence-based therapy with children in schools, early learning centres and in private practice. She is known by others for her bubbly, creative and warm personality and devotes her time to supporting families.

Genevieve loves her job and her dog, and soon found out that when she put the two together —magic happened in her sessions! Many children find it easier to interact and communicate when a furry friend is present. After all, dogs have no judgement, are patient and can help to keep us regulated. Genevieve utilises extensive clinical knowledge and skills with families, and includes her therapy dog, Lincoln, to enhance her sessions.

Betty Norris (Class of 1939)

Congratulations to Betty Norris (Morris, Class of 1939) who celebrated her 101st birthday in early September, with a garden party at her daughter’s house. Betty is the oldest Geelong Cats’ member and most likely to

be our oldest living Tinternite. Here she is, in her special 101 Geelong guernsey signed by Patrick Dangerfield. Happy Birthday Betty, from all of us at Tintern!

Hans Zhu (Class of 2010)

Three years ago, I was extremely fortunate to have landed an admission offer for the PhD program in economics at North-western University in Chicago. There’s something really special about studying with, being vested in and working together on research with about 20 or so other extremely talented peers. I’m now about halfway through my program and shifting full attention to my research agenda on understanding competition in regulated markets and platform design. My most well-developed project looks at the nursing home industry in the USA and tries to understand the consequences of limiting for-profit provision.

I’ve been able to meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience new things during my time in the USA. Being stuck over there for three years is tough, but I’ve been able to hang out with some of the Southwood boys most weekends on Discord and Tabletop Simulator.

John Mclaughlan (Class of 2013)

Starting at Tintern in 1999, I was one of very few students that was a Southwood boy from Pre-Prep all the way to the end of Year 12. During my secondary school years, I completed some community service hours at my local fire brigade, which became a wonderful 8-year career as a volunteer firefighter.

These experiences developed my passion for emergency services and in April this year, I was offered a role within the Victoria Police Social Media team.

In my role, I provide the community with information on crimes and other incidents, promote important safety messages, broadcast press conferences to our social media platforms and television networks, and help local police reunite families and catch offenders. It’s an incredibly diverse, unique, challenging and humbling role, where no day is the same. I am absolutely in love with it.

My advice to current Tintern students, is keep doing the things you love and surrounding yourself with the people that make you happy.

Life will throw countless opportunities your way, so strive for what you wish for once you take off that uniform for the last time. You will reach that goal and it will be totally worth it.

Alison Jones (Sebire Class of 1986)

Growing up in Wandin North on our family orchard certainly encouraged a work ethic. There is always something to do in harvest time. Wanting to help and learning the value of money was an incentive and soon part of expectation and our summer holidays.

Our parents were terrific role models along with other aunties and uncles whom we worked alongside within the business. Picking cherries in the morning and packing in the afternoon.

I was blessed to be given the opportunity to attend Tintern CEGGS and treasure my time there where I benefited from the values and guidance that backed up my parents’ beliefs.

I had some remarkable role models from my Tintern years who believed in me!!!, encouraged, guided, and supported me to go all the way through Year 12. So important at such a vulnerable time of life.

I still thank those teachers and Mum and Dad for the opportunity and support.

After completing Year 12 with a Group 2 course in Small Business Management, I was accepted into Melbourne CAE (College of Advanced Education) later Melbourne University where I qualified with a Degree as a Secondary Art and Craft teacher majoring in Textiles- Dux of my class.

I worked in the textile industry in Collingwood and later after marrying moved to Sydney which I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge in design and sales.

Keen to return home to family and the Yarra Valley we purchased a renovator’s delight, and I used my creativity in a new way.

At this time, I also decided I would join the family business.

At this stage we were a 6th shareholder in Wandin Valley Farms with our family having the Packing and Marketing contract in 1997.

Around this time, I became a mother which I am proud to say I have two amazing adult children whom I am so proud of the individuals they are.

By 2007 we purchased the remaining shareholders out and have since expanded increasing our tonnage for the growing demand.

We now have orchards in three regions, (two in Victoria and one in Tasmania) allowing us to supply cherries from late October through to late January. We also have relocated to a new green field site and built a new packing facility where we have installed a grading system with high-definition camera technology.

This allows us to comfortably pack our growing production, which is distributed all over Australia and Internationally to many countries.

We continually strive to improve and provide a premium product for our customers satisfaction.

We value family, our team and the partnerships that make us who we are here at Wandin Valley Farms!!

Factis Non Verbis – by deeds not by words
A proud Tinternite!!




Our Policies

Get In Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.