At a ceremony last night Michael Miller was recognised for an achievement no one at his school has ever accomplished.
It took three years of dedication, testing limits and bravery, but now he joins a handful of youth in Katherine who have earned a gold medal for the Duke of Edinburgh award.
The 18-year-old Kintore Street School student joined 17 young people in accepting medals from the Mayor of Katherine last night, but only two of those medals were gold.
Many start the arduous journey, and more and more young people these days make it through - completions of the award - a challenging task filled with a multitude of boxes to tick - have grown from 267 in 2015/16 to 413 this year.
The Duke of Edinburgh award was designed to encourage young people aged 14 to 24 to take on activities which promote and develop skills such as leadership, perseverance, compassion and communication.
There are three levels - bronze, silver and gold, and four sections - volunteering, skills, physical and adventure.
For Mr Miller, the path to gold was one of long, sometimes testing hours, which pushed him far out of his comfort zone.
Lisa Budarick, a special education support officer at Kintore Street School, recalls a particular turning point at an adventure camp not long ago.
"It was scary, Michael had to complete a high ropes course as part of the adventure section and he was petrified, but at the end there was a flying fox, which to him seemed even worse," she said.
"We tried to coax him onto the flying fox for 45 minutes, but he chose to retrace his steps and go all the way back along the high ropes that he was so fearful of in the first place.
"That shows a lot of resilience and bravery, and there have been many moments just like that along the way."
Over the three years, Mr Miller has logged hours at the school's community garden, spent time every Friday at the YMCA as part of the physical recreation section, and has tried his hand at left-field skills like the circus.
He said while the Duke of Edinburgh award was the most difficult challenge he had taken on to date, he had stuck with it knowing there was always a new and exciting adventure around the corner.
"There were definitely a few fist pumps when he logged his final activity," Kintore Street School senior teacher Shayne Cox said.
"To achieve gold he had to log about 52 hours in each section. It has been an incredible achievement for Michael to follow through with and to be one of a handful of students across the Territory to make it."
The award is designed to push participants past their boundaries and challenge them in new ways in the name of building confidence, a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and a plethora of other skills valued in society today.
Mr Cox said he saw a noticeable shift in Mr Miller's confidence and personal growth.
"To get gold he had to go away from home and extend his social group among many other things.
"He went rock climbing, abseiling and conquered his fear of holding snakes and he will likely take that confidence of the award into the next stage of his life."
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