SHINING STAR: Year 12 St James graduate, John Bentley with his mother Talei who said she didn't expect her son to graduate Year 12 let alone win three awards.
SHINING STAR: Year 12 St James graduate, John Bentley with his mother Talei who said she didn't expect her son to graduate Year 12 let alone win three awards. Valerie Horton

Teen with disability graduates after years of doubt

WHEN John Bentley started high school, he never thought he'd graduate.

Suffering from aspergers, he didn't enjoy school and faced many difficulties.

But last month, the 17-year-old stood beside his peers as he accepted his year 12 certificate from St James Lutheran College.

Not only did he graduate, he received two subject awards for engineering and prevocational maths as well as the Shining Light Award for students who follow the school's morals and guidelines.

"I really didn't think I'd be the one they would choose to get the awards," he said.

"Because of the personality I have, I didn't think I'd achieve anything."

<<KEEP UP TO DATE WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY COVERAGE AND FOLLOW THE TOPIC HERE>>

John's mum, Talei Bentley said she was unaware of which award her son was going to win when she was notified to attend a ceremony on Tuesday night.

"There were a lot of tears when we heard his name get called out for the award," she said. "It really just shows if you put your head down and try, that's all I've ever said to him.

"All I asked was that he put in 100 per cent."

Ms Bentley said she was thankful to the staff from St James for the help they provided her son.

"St James have been in awesome because they would bring him over and help him with his assignments and modified his assignments so he could actually do the work," she said.

"When he was younger, he didn't like school and he didn't like writing or sitting in a classroom learning."

 

Year 12 St James graduate, John Bentley has surpassed his personal academic expectations.  Diagnosed with aspergers, Bentley once considered dropping out and credits his school for getting him through.  He thrilled his family by graduating high school with academic awards for engineering and prevocational maths.  He was also recognised, by the school, with a Shining Light Award.
Year 12 St James graduate, John Bentley has surpassed his personal academic expectations. Valerie Horton

Now John has left his secondary education, he already has plans for what he hopes to achieve in the future.

"I want to continue my work because I do truck washing and detailing and I want to further my skills in that," he said.

"Eventually I want to drive trucks and become a truck driver."

John moved to Hervey Bay with his mother and sister, Selena, about seven years ago from Mackay.

Starting his high schooling at St James was the best decision John said he made.

"I just want to say thank you to St James for letting me do my education there and helping me with the learning support I've gotten," he said. "I worked hard and I'm really proud of what I was able to achieve."

Ms Bentley said in particular she wanted to thank John's learning support teacher.

"Ms Flemming helped (John) since he was in grade 8 through to grade 12," she said.

"We didn't think he'd even get to year 12 so to have received his graduation certificate and even win awards, he's gone above and beyond my expectations.

"There was lots of tears when he won his awards so I'm a very proud parent and there were lots of tears."