A student from an outstanding sixth form in Sunderland has won a highly coveted education award for her exceptional academic achievements and dedication to charitable work.

Josita Kavitha Thirumalai, who attends St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy and their mixed sixth form with St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, was nominated for the 2021 Lord Glenamara Prize by her classmates and teachers.

As well as achieving strongly academically, Josita is a CAFOD Young Leader at St Anthony’s and currently working towards her Gold Pope John Paul II Award. During the pandemic, she sang for residents in care homes, appearing over Zoom to help tackle boredom and loneliness and raise their spirits at a time when people couldn’t meet their loved ones.

One of 33 students shortlisted for the prize, Josita was presented with her award by Schools Minister Baroness Berridge at a virtual prize giving ceremony. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also appeared via video message.

Monica Shepherd, Headteacher at St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, said: “Josita is an exemplary role model for us all.

“Our Trust is focused on creating better schools, better communities and better futures with Christ firmly at the heart of everything we do.

“Josita encapsulates our ethos perfectly, providing inspiration, positivity and happiness whether that’s at school, at home or within the local community.

“Baroness Berridge commented that Josita was “an example for all young people and adults alike” and we couldn’t agree more – her academic achievements, her kindness and her motivation to give back is incredible.

“St Anthony’s and St Aidan’s Sixth Form students have won the runner up award seven times since it was introduced, with Josita our first ever top prize winner. This is a huge achievement that’s testament to our entire school community including our wonderfully passionate and motivated teachers and support staff.”

Established in 2012, the Lord Glenamara Prize celebrates gifted young people from across the North East, awarding them for their academic skills as well as their contribution to society. The prize recognises the work of the former Secretary of State for Education, Ted Short who was determined to raise the aspirations of young people in the region.

Josita said: “It’s an enormous honour to win this prestigious award. I’m extremely grateful to have had such opportunities to develop my confidence to enrich my education and embrace new life experiences.”

For more information about St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, St Aidan’s Catholic Academy or the mixed sixth form, please visit:  https://st-anthonys-academy.com/, https://www.staidanscatholicacademy.co.uk and http://aaasixthform.com

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