The student super-commuters putting in the hard yards for school

The student super-commuters putting in the hard yards for school

His mother, Yuxain Clough, whose husband died 15 years ago and who does not drive, said she was worried at first.

“I said: ‘Maribyrnong is very far.’ He said, ‘Mom, don’t worry. I can do it.’ “

And he proved that he can. “Shane did very well. I’m proud of him,” Clough said.

Shane gets up at 6.15am and catches a 6.45am bus, then the train to Footscray and then a tram or bus to arrive at school by 8.30am. He leaves school at 3.15pm and gets home by 5.15pm.

Three nights a week he has football training at Craigieburn – a 35km public transport journey – and twice a week he trains at 7.30am at Maribyrnong, which means catching a 6.15am train.

Does he resent having to travel so far? “None. I love it. I enjoy it now. I’m used to it. It’s worth the trip. I go to a good school. I can be in an environment I enjoy every day and play sports .”

A lot of kids wouldn’t do that, Shane said. “I reckon they’ll get sick of it.”

You have to be determined. “I am quite motivated for my goal and I want to achieve it.”

Maribyrnong Sports Academy director Mark McAllion said students with a long commute are “very single-minded and quite resilient, and they have to be, to make that kind of commitment, to travel that kind of distance, to try to pursue their dream to strive

“It’s definitely a big commitment, and it’s a consideration for their whole household, because I assume the whole household is probably very early on, with some of these families, to have one of their children here at school to get.”

Samuel Alexander (14) on the ferry from French Island which is part of his commute to school. Credit: Joe Armao

Another student with a long commute, Samuel Alexander (14), lives on French Island, 100 kilometers south of Melbourne.

At 7:10 a.m., his mother, Stella, drives him 10 minutes to the ferry that leaves at 7:30 a.m. for Stony Point, on the eastern side of the Mornington Peninsula.

A school bus drives him 23 kilometers to Dromana Secondary College, picks up other children on the way and arrives at the school by 08:45.

Samuel said some people he meets don’t believe him when he says he takes a ferry to school and some think it’s cool, but for him ferry travel has become “the new normal” since the family moved to the island a year ago moved from Rowville.

It can be tiring, but once he saw a dolphin swimming alongside the ferry, “it was pretty cool”, and the views, of the sunrise, the sea and across to the town of Hastings, can be beautiful. He says he often does his homework on the ferry and the bus.

Samuel’s brother Max goes to French Island’s tiny (seven students) Perserverance Primary School whose two teachers take the ferry to the island every morning after driving from homes near Mornington to Stony Point.

Tony Mordini principal of the selective government boys’ school Melbourne High School in South Yarra, says 90 per cent of his students go to school by public transport, some from as far away as Waurn Ponds, south-west of Geelong, and Berwick in Melbourne’s south-east.

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Mordini said: “I think it shows that commitment to their studies and co-curricular activities. They value what they get here, and they are willing to make the sacrifice to do it,” he said.

“Last year we had a child who came from Shepparton until he found a homestay situation.”

The school’s student-run railway interest group has recently been revived and operates a buddy system on each train line so that children can travel with schoolmates rather than alone.

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