Netflix star joins fight to save Perth Modern
The ’13 Reasons Why’ star teamed up with former and current students against the relocation plan. Katherine Langford has joined the fight to save her old school, Perth Modern, from being turned back into a regular high school.
During a fleeting visit to Perth, the lead actor in the popular drama 13 Reasons Why teamed up with former and current students to protest against the State Government’s plan to strip the Subiaco school of its academically selective status and relocate gifted pupils to a high-rise building in the city.
Katherine, who graduated in 2013, said she may not have considered a career in acting if she had not attended Perth Modern School.
“There was a lot of freedom given, and I think that kind of helped me to explore what I was passionate about,” she said. “It helped me develop, not just as a student but as a person, because I was able to explore different subjects but also pursue them in a way that suited me.
During my study periods, because there wasn’t a teacher watching me, I would go into the auditorium and write music, or I would study out here on the lawn. I think that sense of freedom was really important.”
Katherine recalled enjoying the green open spaces around the school during class breaks.
“I have such fond memories of playing soccer at lunch time,” she said. “The other thing I really liked about the school was that during my time here I had friends from every end of the train line and it feels very much a school that’s based on merit, not money.”
Other high-profile students opposing the plan include Caitlin Revell, last year’s winner of the Beazley Medal for being WA’s top all-round academic student, University of WA music student and Fogarty scholarship winner Jane Pankhurst, Year 11 student and 1500m State record holder Kiran Tibbals and football player Georgia Burden, also in Year 11. Caitlin said she did not believe an artificial high-rise tower offered a good learning environment.
Jane said she had loved being surrounded by heritage buildings. “There have been so many incredible alumni, and not to have that connection to them through the school I think would be really sad,” she said.
Kiran said he found it hard to concentrate when he was stressed, but being able to go outside between lessons helped him relax. “Being in a high-rise building, constantly locked up for the whole day, is not my idea of what I want to spend most of my time doing.”
Georgia, who plays for Claremont’s under 18 women’s football team, said Perth Modern’s sports facilities, such as the gymnasium and oval, could not be replicated in a high-rise building.
Education Minister Sue Ellery has said previously the new city school would have open outdoor spaces, natural light, an auditorium and modern science facilities.
This week hundreds of students, parents and Perth Modern alumni protested on the steps of Parliament House and presented a 6000-signature petition opposing the Government’s plans to shift gifted students to a high-rise tower by 2020.