An interview with Tangara Old Girl Olivia Denahy, Class of 1998, who is purchasing a commemorative paver to support her school...

What have you done since leaving school?

My greatest achievement since leaving school is definitely my family. I have a wonderful husband and 4 great kids. Michael 15, James 14, Lucy 10 and Henry 7. The boys are at Redfield and Lucy is at Tangara.

Before they came along I had a long relationship with First Year Uni. In fact I did First Year Uni four times, plus First year at a private college. When I left school I did First year Nursing, First year Tourism, First year Interior Architecture and then I settled for Interior Design through the International School of Colour and Design (ISCD), graduating with flying colours and celebrated by getting married that same year! I worked as an Interior Designer for a year, until at 22, I was blessed with my first bub and then spent 12 fabulous years at home with my kids. Whilst a stay-at-home-mum I painted and sold artworks in Sydney and Cairns, and was part of two collaborative exhibitions. A five year interstate move to Brisbane in 2006 for my husband’s work gave me the opportunity and the desire to retrain in Fine Arts and Education and thus began my 5th First year!! I could be a doctor by now, but instead I am a happy High School Visual Arts teacher at a Rudolf Steiner school in Sydney with a massive hecs debt!

Why did you choose Tangara for your own children?

I chose Tangara for my daughter because I truly believe there is no better school in terms of character and spiritual development.

My children began their education in Brisbane, but my head and heart were drawn back to PARED and so we are back! I have taught in a few schools now and my kids have experienced both the Catholic and Independent School systems and nothing compares to what we have at Tangara and Redfield. Hand on heart, Nothing. There are plenty of great academic and sporting schools around, but none that develop the whole character like Tangara. More explicitly in the form of human virtues. I took it for granted as a student, but as life throws different challenges at you, you begin to realise how much of what I learnt at Tangara I put into practice as a young adult and now as a parent. Accountability, self-discipline, empathy, courage, fortitude and resilience are just a few of the virtues that become a part of life as a Tangara student and stay with you for life.

Why have you decided to purchase a commemorative paver at Tangara?

The Tangara ‘buy-a-brick-campaign’ is a small but important way to support Tangara with the resources to help it grow and be a place of beauty, to aid in a love of learning.

Further more, I was deeply moved by what Pope Francis said on Dec 6 ,2016, at the annual meeting of the Pontifical Academies Award before presenting the winning artists of the year. He said “Beauty, under the care of artists (of every discipline), has the ability to transform even the everyday lives of men and women”. He spoke of the bleakness that often exists in both cities and suburbs, saying the lack of beauty leaves more room “for fear” than for the “beautiful dreams” of young people. He told the congregation of the need of beautiful churches, beautiful art and architecture, but also of beauty in the small things. “Even simple actions, small sparks of beauty and love” shown to the environment in which people live can bring healing and peace.

We need to care for our school and build a beautiful space where young girls feel safe and free to develop a love for learning.

Do you have any advice for current Tangara students?

Treasure your friends, give them your time and your ears. Some friendships won't last forever and that's okay. People change, things happen, and friendships, even the very best ones, can fade completely. But that doesn't make the place they held in your life any less important.

Don’t compare yourself to others, I recently heard it called ‘comparasites’. More often than not, we are comparing our worst moments, our weaknesses, to their strengths. Remember that. Just because you have different strengths does not mean you are less than.

Heed your teachers and tutors advice, they have a wealth of knowledge. Trust them. Show them gratitude, ‘manners maketh the man’.

Make your faith your own. Don’t practice it because you feel you have to, practice it because you want to have a deeper relationship with God. In your time, own it. Love it. Live it. God will always have your back and He is very patient.

Disconnect to connect. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.

Write down your dreams. Don’t do anything with half your heart. Be confident in reaching those dreams but humble enough to accept God may have another plan for you. But always ALWAYS stay true to yourself.

Consider a Gap year. I didn’t, and with the benefit of hindsight it may have helped me discern my career path earlier!

Have fun. Laugh often and hard. Live in the moment. Find beauty in everything and never ever stop learning.

Lastly, Invest in your family. Family is everything. However, true happiness starts within, so look after yourself.


  • Click here to find out more about the Tangara Landscape Improvement Fundraiser.
  • If you would like to 'Buy-a-Brick' to assist the Tangara Landscape Fundraiser, download this form