Boarder Lily Oosterven, of Orange, NSW, is the fourth generation of her family to attend Ravenswood School for Girls in Sydney.

Story Ken Eastwood

One afternoon about 6 years ago, Angela Oosterven, of Orange, NSW, was stuck in Sydney with a carload of kids, waiting for her husband. She decided to take them on a walk around her alma mater, Ravenswood School for Girls. Angela and her sister had boarded there in the 1990s, and she had loved the experience so much that she’d filled her children’s heads with great stories from her school days.

While walking around the school, they were spotted and invited in for a tour. Angela’s daughter Lily, then in kindergarten or Year 1 became entranced. “Lily got to the new auditorium and said, ‘I’m just at home’, but we weren’t even thinking of boarding school for her at that stage,” Angela says. They were told that when Lily got to Year 5, they should think about applying for the annual Rural Residential Scholarship, which pays all boarding fees for six years. 

Amazingly, little Lily did remember, and in Year 5 set about filling in the paperwork required, including a two-page letter about why she wanted to go to Ravenswood. “She had to do her own CV, which was really wonderful – she went over all the things she’d done at Orange Public School,” Angela says.

Lucy Cumming, deputy principal of boarding, wellbeing and development, says she remembers encountering Lily back then. “I recall this happy little blonde bombshell,” she says. “Lily had an incredible sense of curiosity and love of learning and an incredible sense of gratitude for that learning opportunity that was offered to her.”

Sure enough, Lily won the scholarship and in 2022 became the fourth generation of her family to go to Ravenswood. “I thought it would be good to continue the legacy,” she says.

One of only two Year 7 boarders, Lily has thrown herself into the sporting activities, doing athletics on top of netball, soccer, softball and touch football. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #146

Outback Magazine: December/January 2023