Three out of Five Bayside Youth Awards go to St Leonard’s Students!

The 2023 Bayside Youth Awards ceremony, which took place on Wednesday 3 May at Sandringham Yacht Club, celebrated the exceptional achievements and contributions of outstanding young individuals. The biennial awards recognise remarkable individuals between the ages of 10 and 25 who have made significant contributions to the Bayside community in five different categories, namely community, creative, environment, leadership, and the Julian Gurrieri Memorial Award for Bayside Youth Participation. Three of these awards were claimed by St Leonard’s College students!

During the ceremony, Bayside City Council Mayor, Cr Hanna El Mouallem, emphasized the positive impact that young leaders have in Bayside. Despite facing several challenges in recent years, young people have demonstrated exceptional resilience by remaining committed and enthusiastic about the causes they believe in. Mayor Cr El Mouallem acknowledged the remarkable talent and determination of young leaders in the community and recognized their valuable contributions to society.

Congratulations to the following students:

Milla Besanko- Bayside Youth Awards 2023 – Environment 

Milla Besanko is an individual with a strong passion for the environment and actively volunteers in the Bayside community. In 2022, Milla played a pivotal role in the relaunch of the Brighton Beach Patrol Group, and she now takes charge of monthly clean-up operations, collecting, weighing, and counting litter. During the recent Clean Up Australia Day event, Milla supervised the collection of 30kg of rubbish and coordinated the participation of over 35 volunteers, including Members of Parliament Zoe Daniel and James Newbury.

Furthermore, Milla has demonstrated her commitment to community service by running a highly successful Coats for Kids campaign for charity St Kilda Mums at her primary school in St Kilda. She collected a total of 17 bags of coats for kids in need, showcasing her excellent organizational skills and ability to make a positive impact on society.


Tommy Zhou – Bayside Youth Awards 2023 – Julian Gurrieri Memorial Award

Tommy (Ziyin) Zhou is an enthusiastic member of various Bayside Youth Services Committees, such as the Boombox Events FReeZA Committee and Bayside Youth Ambassadors. Tommy’s contributions to event design, communication, and execution have made him a valuable asset to these committees. Tommy’s love for music and journalism is evident as he actively participates in our St Leonard’s College orchestra and chamber string band and holds the position of Chief Editor at KidSpirit, a student magazine. Furthermore, Tommy attended the Summer School of the New York Times to pursue investigative reporting. Tommy is known for his efficient time management skills, positive attitude, and eagerness to assist his community.


Ben Adler – Bayside Youth Awards 2023 – Creativity 

After recognizing that emergency vehicles were experiencing difficulties finding residential homes due to faded or covered street numbers, Ben Adler took the initiative to establish his own business that stencils house numbers on curbs. Ben offers this service at cost and dedicates up to 20 hours on weekends, cycling nearly 50km to reach each location. His efforts have earned him media recognition and prominent clients, such as the Mayor of Glen Eira City Council, who commended Ben for his punctuality, courteousness, and attention to detail in his work.


Well done to Milla, Tommy and Ben on their exceptional achievements. St Leonard’s College is very proud of them!