Starting high school is a big step for most teenagers - especially those going off to boarding school for the first time - but 13-year-old Lydia Ozies will be leaping further from familiarity than most Year 8s.
The Halls Creek teen has swapped the blue skies and red dirt of the Kimberley for the manicured surrounds of Perth's Presbyterian Ladies' College after winning a scholarship. Her mother, Gillian Edwards, said she put on a brave face when her daughter left last week so they did not both break down and cry - but she admitted to shedding a quiet tear or two later.
"I told her I'm not sad for you going because I know you're going to bigger and better things," she said.
Ms Edwards said she wanted all four of her daughters to get a good education so they could become strong, independent young women.
"There are a lot of indigenous kids in this town who don't get to have those opportunities, or that support from families," she said.
But she also wants Lydia to hold on to her heritage as a member of the Jaru people.
She said Lydia had loved singing and dancing since she was small and hoped to study performing arts at university. Lydia said winning the scholarship was "like a dream come true", but she was "a bit nervous" about starting.
PLC principal Beth Blackwood said the school offered four indigenous scholarships a year and 20 Aboriginal students would attend this year. She said the girls were "remarkably resilient" because they had to contend with vast differences in culture and educational expectations."Some of them have never even worn school shoes before - so to come to a middle-class, conservative all-girls school and be boarding is like chalk and cheese compared to their prior experience," she said.
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