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At the start of each year, the Year 12 Leadership Team gets together to plan their vision for the year ahead. We recently sat down with some of these young leaders to talk about their plans and aspirations.

Each of these students have taken a very different journey during their time at Ivanhoe Girls’, but they all share something in common - their passion for the School, and their determination to give back to the School community.

Standing up for a leadership position in Year 12 takes guts, but also a fair bit of school pride. For Alyssa, Captain of Locksley, a leadership position has given her the opportunity to be more involved in House than ever. “I was always looking up at the past leaders,” she says. “I wanted to do what they do, help lead the House and get involved in school activities.”

Drama Captain, Cassie, was also inspired by those who came before her. “I looked at all the previous Drama Captains and thought they looked like the most fun, the most nice people,” she says. “I’d love to be like that.”

So what does it mean to be a School Leader? For Pema, School Vice Captain, leadership means “setting an example for other students and giving them someone to look up to”. Elizabeth, Social Service Prefect, agrees. “I think it’s about supporting the others around you to be the best they can be,” she says. “It’s not always about making the decisions. It’s also about involving other people and helping them to be leaders.”

These Year 12 students know from experience just how powerful a student leadership role can be when it comes to engaging younger students. Alyssa recalls when, as a Year 7 student about to run the 800m at House Athletics, the Captain of Locksley came over to her to wish her luck. “It gives you a feeling of belonging in the School,” she says.

Cassie had a similar experience in Drama. “When I did the AIM (Art In Motion) Production in Year 7 it was a little bit daunting - there were a lot of older girls you had to interact with. But then you have this group of people from other year levels that you know and can always talk to,” she says. “As you get older you become that support person for the younger year levels which is really fun.”

Inspiring students to make the most of their time at high school is one of the most important aspects of their roles as school leaders. Each year, the Prefect team chooses a message they hope will inspire younger students to get involved in school life. In years past, slogans such as "One Team Many Dreams", or "Brave Not Perfect" have been the catalyst for students of all ages to try something new, to take a chance, or to take a small step towards self realisation. This year, the Leadership Team has chosen 'Dare to Love’ as their message to the School.

For Pema, it’s a powerful slogan. “For me, ‘Dare to Love’ means being proud of yourself, what you love to do, what makes you you, and being proud to show that.”

It’s an important message for teenage girls to hear. “Sometimes at school it’s not cool to love things,” explains Alyssa. “But ‘Dare to Love’ is about being able to show your appreciation for something and know that’s okay.”

It’s a sentiment they all agree on. “Being able to openly love something is a really good way to create inclusiveness and a sense of togetherness and belonging. It gets rid of judgement and lets people be themselves,” says Cassie.

So, what changes would the students like to see in the School this year? For Pema, the answer is simple. “We want to encourage bravery. We want people to try new things and make the most of everything the School has to give us. We want students to jump into things they have never done before,” she says. “That’s what makes school really rewarding and enjoyable.”

But for many students, striving for perfection can be a real barrier to trying new things. “As girls, we are always focussed on being perfect and not embarrassing ourselves,” says Elizabeth. Pema agrees. “When I was younger, I really needed peer support to do anything,” she explains. “At such a high performing school it feels like you always have to be your best.”

“We want to encourage bravery. We want people to try new things and make the most of everything the School has to give us.”

The girls hope their message "Dare to Love" will encourage younger students to take advantage of the opportunities available to them at Ivanhoe Girls’. Elizabeth remembers how "Brave Not Perfect" resonated with her when she was younger, and even inspired her to take up Music. “I thought, yeah, I’ll try something new by myself, I’ll be brave,” she recalls. “Now I want other year levels to experience the same thing. It’s good to be brave and put yourself out there.”

“I really like the word empower,” says Cassie. “Finding the power within yourself to make your own decisions and do the things you love to do,” she says. “Having the courage and daring to do those things.”

So what will be the legacy of the Class of 2020? “I want people to finish this year feeling brave enough to try things and feel like they have a second home here and they are able to get the support they need and have a large community and network of friends,” says Pema.

Alyssa agrees. “I want people to look back and say we made an impact. That we helped people try something new, or helped people to feel like they belong in this community.”

Friends, a sense of belonging, and a place where you can truly be yourself. It’s a good message, and a wonderful vision.

This article originally appeared in the July 2020 edition of Lux Mea Magazine.