From the arts to advocacy


Alex Phoon, a Year 11 student at The McDonald College, started ballet training when he was eight. His teachers recommended the College, broadly accepted as the best in Sydney for combining performing arts with academic studies.

He started at the College in Year 7. “It was an advantage that we had a small year group; it made it easy to make friends with everyone and settle in quickly,” he says.

He has since switched streams to take the Senior Contemporary Dance program in an exclusive partnership with the Sydney Dance Company.

“It’s one of the great things about McDonald – you can experiment with different specialisations each year. I’ve really come to love Contemporary. It is so expressive, but still has its foundations in ballet. I like working with the Sydney Dance Company teachers. They are all about technique, precision, and creativity,” he says.

He dances two days a week, and while the College offers students the option of doing five days, Alex has chosen instead to focus more on his studies in the lead-up to the HSC.

His favourite subject is Legal Studies, and he is taking Economics as a distance ed subject online. His Business Studies teacher at the College provides support in her own time for his assessments, which he appreciates. His aim after school is to do a Law / Politics degree.

Alex has participated in organised rallies, marching for social justice – a space he feels incredibly passionate about.

This year, he was elected Youth Shadow Minister for Justice in the Y NSW Youth Parliament. This program allows high school students to engage in civic leadership, policy development, and democratic parliamentary debate. One day Alex hopes to earn a place in the Federal Parliament.

“I have had so many opportunities at the College that I might not have otherwise had. Through all the ballet performances over the years, I’ve developed discipline. Balancing this with academics taught me the value of multi-tasking and time management. In joining the debating team, I honed my skills in thinking on my feet, public speaking, and persuasiveness,” he says.

When asked what he likes most about The McDonald College, Alex replied, “Everyone here is on their own path, but we all connect; we are exposed to diverse personalities and ideas. It’s great. I get to do what I love every day, and Mum and Dad love that I’m still getting a good education at the same time. It’s totally different to any other school. I feel very grateful.”

Visit to find out more about The McDonald College and register for their next Open Day.

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