John Pearce, Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year, cares about people. It’s as simple as that.

The Eaglehawk Secondary College teacher has been given the honour of being named Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year for 2022.

John feels humble and almost embarrassed about this recognition. “I think there’s many more people who are more deserving, but I enjoy and appreciate the honor because it gives me a chance to talk about
all the good things in Eaglehawk”.

As a result of receiving the award, John has had contact from lots of people whom he hasn’t heard from in many years. He sees the title as honorary in nature and believes that it will give him a chance to continue to support all things equal.

“I’ve always had a belief that in the community you’re working or live in, you should try and contribute as much as you can, and enjoy all the benefits of living in such a great place”.

John originally landed in Eaglehawk, in 1972, and from the moment he arrived, it felt like home.

“It’s a wonderful community – a great suburb with some amazing people and some incredible families”.

Right from that time, John was motivated to become involved with the
community. “I’ve always had a belief that you should try to contribute as much as you can to the community you’re working or live in, and enjoy all the benefits of living in such a great place”.

John has always aimed to be the best version of himself that he can be. He was raised to look at the positives in people and always keep an open mind.  “I had to learn to be myself and follow my passions”.

On April 1st,The Rotary Club of Eaglehawk held a celebration in honour of John’s achievements. He was able to invite ten guests, amongst whom were two ex-students from 1972, Terry Hopley and Cate Brewin (Roberts), as well as our current school captain Mhairi Cornford.

When John was asked about how he had contributed to the community over the past fifty years, he was able to sum it up with one main idea.

“I think probably the greatest contribution of mine is that I have just cared about people. I think it’s as simple as that. My parents brought me up to see the good in people. And so it’s been easy to be able to care about people because everybody’s got their good points. And so, my greatest contribution is probably being there for people, let’s say, a bit sloppy, but that’s the way I say it”.

One of John’s vivid memories was his involvement in the volleyball teams where he was instrumental in introducing the sport to ESC students in the
late 1970’s.

“I helped get volleyball started here as a sport. At one stage, we had 36 Teams competing in the local competition and six of them were staff/ student teams. That fostered really good relationships between
students and staff and made school fun because at lunch times the gym would be full of staff and students just hitting the ball around the circle”.

The school team also set two records for the Guinness Book of Records. The first one had four teams playing with two teams on the court at any one time. They rotated and played in the town hall for seven days straight 24 hours a day, seven days. We broke that record”.

“Two years later, the students were keen to try and break the world record for two teams playing nonstop. And so we trained and trained.  For three mornings a week the kids would come to school early and we’d go for a run and then have volleyball before having breakfast together. Then we attempted the record. We played nonstop, no sleep. Nothing for 54 hours. And we broke the world record.

“However, later that year, I went over to England and took all the paperwork, which was all in order. Unfortunately between when we did it and when I got over there, the German Army team had broken our record. So we never got to be in the book. But it was fantastic. Just all the team work”.

“I think the thing I’m proudest of is being able to develop positive
relationships with the people I’ve worked with, and people I’ve worked for”.

“Too often people don’t set their sights high enough. I think you should.  Everyone should try and be the best version of themselves”.

I’ll finish it this way. When I was about six, or seven living in Geelong, I used to wear a Geelong hand knitted jumper, with a number six on the back. Back then number six was a player called Peter Pinto and I was obsessed with him. It was at that stage, I first heard of Eaglehawk, because he came from Eaglehawk. So when I set up here to teach, I knew I had a little bit of an idea of about Eaglehawk. Little did I know that fifty years later, I’d still be here”.

“I feel privileged to have worked at this school, I feel privileged to have been part of the Eaglehawk community. And if there’s a gift I could give kids it would be to believe in themselves and believe in their community. And it’s as simple as that”.

“Believe in yourself. Because we often talk about young people respecting their elders. And that’s true. But the most important thing a young person can respect is themselves”.


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