by Samina Makhanbetazhiyeva
Sean Finamore and Aysha Emmerson were elected Head Boy and Head Girl for the 2017-18 school year. They shared some of their thoughts on the spring election and their plans for the upcoming year in this interview for The Jag student newspaper.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves
Aysha: Hi, I’m Aysha. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts. After a year there, my family moved to Toronto, where we lived for another year, before moving to Salt Spring for a couple months, and then to Victoria (where we have been ever since). I came to SMUS in Grade 5, and I am 16.
Sean: Hi, I’m Sean. I was born in Chicago, Illinois. My dad’s job caused my family to move a lot, so I’ve never lived in one place for very long. I’ve lived in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, China and Canada. My parents sent me here to give me a chance to stay in one place for a longer period of time. My dad went to the school a long time ago, which is another big reason behind why I came to SMUS! I’m 17 years old.
Why did you want to go for the position of Head Girl or Head Boy?
Aysha: There are two main reasons why I wanted to go for Head Girl. The first being that I have always had a deal with myself that if I have an opportunity to help someone else out or to improve someone’s day I will take it. So I felt like running for Head Girl was just living up to this deal. The second is that I have a huge amount of love for this school: I love the people in it, I love the culture, what we believe in and what we stand for. So I wanted this role as an opportunity to give back to the community.
Sean: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always tried to do the best I could in whatever I pursued. When I came to SMUS, there were so many opportunities so I really tried to be a part of everything that I could. I’ve always thought that since arriving at the school, the Head Boy and Head Girl have been very involved and represent all of the different aspects of school life. That was something that I wanted to continue to aspire to. I also wanted to feel like I was graduating from SMUS having left a legacy and mark that others could continue to build upon.
How did you feel before you were elected as a Head Boy/Head Girl?
Aysha: Really, really nervous. I thought the election could go in any direction. There was such an amazing pool of candidates, so I really had no idea what to expect. But I was comforted by knowing that because the candidates were all so amazing, no matter what happened, the school would be in good hands.
Sean: When we were done with the speeches and done with our prefect paragraphs, we all knew that we had put everything that we had into every part of the process, and it was all up to the school from that point. We were all very supportive of each other, and no matter what the result was, we knew next year would be a huge success.
Is there anything that you’d like to change about SMUS?
Aysha: As much as I would like to think that everyone in the community feels included, I know the reality is that some people don’t. I would like to change the fact that some people don’t feel like they are included, and ensure that every individual knows they are a valued member of the community.
Sean: Being a boarder, you really get a totally different experience at the school. You live at school and you’re constantly surrounded by people from different places, and different cultures. Although the school has done a fantastic job at diversifying the school community, I think there’s still often a social gap between day students and boarders. That would definitely be something that I’d be really excited to work on for next year – to bridge that gap.
How would you bring this change into reality?
Aysha: The prefect council will hopefully play a big role in reaching out to all members of the student community, so that they feel included. Through various initiatives, modelling inclusivity, as well as by simply extending kindness, I believe we can bring about this change.
How would you ensure that every student is getting the most of his or her high school years?
Aysha: Well, for me, the best part of high school has been involving myself in a ton of different things, and really taking advantage of all that the school has to offer. Through that, I’ve discovered that by trying new things you discover what makes you happiest. Especially because you get to meet new people in the process. So I think modelling the way as a Prefect Council and showing students that it is a great thing to be involved, is a way for students to make the most of their high school experience. Moreover, making sure they know that nobody will judge them if they fail in trying something new: if they go out for a team and don’t get it, sing in chapel and hit a wrong note, it’s not a big deal.
Sean: I totally agree. Just building on that, I’d say that the best way for every student to get the most out of their high school years would be to make sure that they’re trying everything that they possibly can. Especially in Grades 9 and 10, when you have a little bit more time to try new things. I know I personally discovered myself in Grades 9 and 10 by immersing myself in everything I possibly could and failing many times in the process. Through it all, I can now focus my energy and build upon the things that I know I want to pursue as well as try to improve in areas I know I need a lot of work. If students know what is available to them and they jump on all of the opportunities that are presented to them, there’s no doubt they will excel.
What motivates you to become a better version of yourself?
Aysha: I think when you’re the best version of yourself, you’re more able to give back to other people. So that’s a big motivator for me. As well as that when one person is striving to be their best, other people tend to catch on: they also try to be their best, which leads to a better community. People inspire one another.
Sean: I agree. What really motivates me is knowing that there will always be someone better than me. No matter what it is, whether it be piano, sports or certain academic subjects, by knowing and accepting that there will always be someone who’s more experienced or harder working that I am, I’m motivated to become better myself. I strongly believe that by simply surrounding yourself with people who are motivated and are passionate about what they are doing, there’s no doubt that a person will grow to become a better version of them-self.
This story originally appeared in the June 2017 edition of The Jag student newspaper.