This week, our graduating Head Girl (Sarah Jones) and Head Boy (Jasper Johnston) led their final assembly and passed the Prefect Council torch on to next year’s student leaders, Oria James and Christian Okiring.
Below, Sarah and Jasper reflect on their school year as heads of the Prefect Council.
What was the experience of being Head Boy/Girl like?
Sarah: Being Head Girl this year has been a great experience, as well as a lot of fun. Although it was difficult at times to balance everyday life with the responsibilities of the position, overall the experience helped me learn a lot about myself and my leadership style. The best part of the role for me was having the opportunity to meet and interact with some amazing people across the school community that I would never have had the chance to if not for the position.
Jasper: I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to be Head Boy is year. For me, the best part of the role was having the unique opportunity to make positive change in the community that has shaped me into who I am today. From reconnecting with the Junior School to improving the electoral process, to minor improvements in the way the Prefect Council is run, I have loved every moment of it.
What was the most challenging aspect of the role?
Sarah: The most challenging aspect of being Head Girl was finding a way to respectfully lead a group of peers that you have to also interact with daily outside of your leadership role, especially when those you are leading are also good friends. Finding the line between friend and leader was difficult, but over the course of the year I feel like I was able to find a balance between the two.
Jasper: I found the most challenging/frustrating part of the role was the occasional inefficiencies of coming to a decision as a large group. As someone who likes to get things done quickly and efficiently, having to slow down, make sure everyone was on the same page, and come to a consensus was challenging at times, but also ended up being one of the most valuable take-aways from the role.
What did you accomplish in the role?
This year we were fortunate to be able to accomplish a lot, working alongside a fantastic group of Prefects. Some of our main changes we made through our roles include: changing the voting system for prefects at the Senior School (giving all Grades 9 to 11 the chance to vote for Head Boy and Head Girl through a new, more democratic Single Transferable Vote system), participating regularly in Junior School assemblies, increasing transparency between the Prefect Council and the school through regular reports and feedback surveys, and executing a couple of fun events that were aimed at bringing the school closer as a community. We also, for the first time, created a comprehensive book that defines the roles and responsibilities of the various prefect positions. It is our hope that this book will be used in the years to come to help guide the prefects in their work and help Grade 11s decide what roles they want to run for.
What will you take away from the experience?
Sarah: The role definitely taught me the importance of being organized, which Jasper had to consistently help me with over the course of the year! I started off known as being notoriously unorganized, but the nature of the role forced me to learn how to plan and coordinate a busy life successfully, a skill I’m sure will benefit me in the years to come.
Jasper: Perhaps one of the most salient things I will take from my experience as Head Boy is the importance of taking the extra moment to ensure that all voices are heard, considered and appreciated. Everyone has something to offer, but not everyone is as willing to share their opinions and ideas. It’s not that I was unaware of this before I became Head Boy but, over the course of the year, I came to have a greater appreciation of it.
What advice can you offer to the next Head Boy and Girl?
We are both very excited to be passing on our roles to Christian and Oria, who are both incredible leaders and individuals. The best advice that we can give would be to not be afraid to ask the people around you for help. Throughout the year they will be faced with the pressure of trying to live up to everyone’s expectations, including their own, as well as balancing school work, prefect responsibilities, and life in general. Despite this pressure, they should always remember that there are people around them that are there to help. They have so many resources available, including peers, teachers and family. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.
In many ways, this advice applies to all prefects and students at the school. There are certainly times throughout school life that are stressful and may not seem fun, but if they seek help when they need it, stay optimistic, work hard, and follow their passions, they will reap the benefits.
What final words do you have for the SMUS community before you leave?
Thank you so much to the SMUS community for helping us grow, both as learners and as individuals, over the course of our time at the school. We have both had many amazing experiences that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. From musicals to international trips to championship victories and moments of insight in the classroom, SMUS has enriched our lives. None of these moments would have been possible without the unceasing dedication and support from our teachers, the administration and the students of the school.
As we move on to the next stages of our lives, we would like to share a phrase that came up during our prefect discussions over the course of the year: “It is the person who makes the title special, not the other way around.” We firmly believe that this is true of all people, in all roles, whether they are a teacher, lawyer, prefect or a politician. Titles are but a means for organizing and allocating responsibilities, and have no bearing on what kind of person someone is. For us, the phrase has served as a reminder to work hard in our roles, but we hope that it can serve as a reminder to the community that, with or without a title, everyone has the ability to lead, from the youngest kindergarten student to the dedicated academic, the first-time musician and the determined athlete. By sharing your passion with others, you can demonstrate your own form of leadership and help make our community an even better place.
(photo by Gordon Chan)