Problem Solved! Iona wins big on world stage

21 July 2023

Creative thinking backed by strong community support has resulted in two Iona Presentation College students winning big at the Future Problem-Solving (FPS) International Conference held in Boston, USA in June.

The FPS program is an academically rigorous course, aimed at developing analytical and research skills in the context of future global issues. FPS students are encouraged to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens, aware of a diverse range of community and global concerns affecting our world today.

Iona Presentation College students, Holly Booker and Ciaan Wilcox competed individually in the FPS National Finals in Melbourne in 2022 after their strong performances in the individual qualifying task ranked them in the top 10 percent in Australia.

Both students achieved incredible results at the national level with Holly placing third, and Ciaan taking out the title of National Champion.

This top three finish saw them both invited to the International Conference at the University of Massachusetts (UMass Boston) in Amherst recently.

At UMass, Holly competed in the Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Competition, joining students from other affiliates around the world to compete in a team of four. Holly’s team excelled, finishing in first place – first in the world! For Holly, this result is testament to her dedication and hard work over 7 years in the program.

Holly said, ‘My success in this competition can be largely attributed to the massive amount of support given by Iona and my own family.

‘Our coach ensured we were well prepared and encouraged us to think in ways we hadn’t considered and gave us resources and space to research. I will be forever grateful.’

Competing individually as the reigning Australian National Champion, Ciaan was outstanding at Amherst, attaining sixteenth place. She was required to complete the rigorous process on her own – a truly remarkable achievement. Ciaan was also chosen to be the flag bearer for Western Australia at the FPS International Conference’s Opening Ceremony.

Ciaan said the highlight of her experience was making friends with like-minded people from around the world.

‘It was so interesting to see that, whilst there were differences in lifestyle, even among other Australians, we shared common interests.’

Holly and Cian credit their Co-curricular Program led by Dean of Co-curricular Mrs Debra Powell, Academic Excellence Coordinator Ms Rebecca Nesham and teacher Mr Jonathan Cook for their guidance and support.

Ms Neesham has led past Ionian teams to the National Finals in the FPS particularly in 2010, 2012, 2013 to 2017, achieving top 8 for most years. In 2015, Ms Neesham received the E Paul Torrance Coach’s Award.

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