Student leadership is an integral part of daily life at ACG Sunderland, with chances to lead woven into the fabric of the school’s culture.
Beginning her leadership journey as a peer tutor in Year 8, Head Girl Isha Takyar then moved into other roles such as class captain, associate leader for Findlay House, netball coach, and leader of the festival and ball committees. But she says many students begin honing these skills from a much earlier age.
“The culture of leadership is fostered by many students, starting as young as Year 1,” Isha explains.
“It is slowly introduced through roles like class captain, sports captain, clubs and committees, and the older you get, the more the opportunities open up. For example, from Year 5, students can run for Primary House Captain; in Year 10, you have the chance to be selected for Associate House Leader, and in Year 12 and 13, you can run for House Leader.”
The House System plays a crucial role in developing leaders and building school spirit, but as Isha points out, there are numerous other ways to make your mark on the school.
“There are lots of different areas in which students can develop their leadership capabilities, such as peer tutoring, organising events, or participating in the buddy system, which is when an existing student teams up with a new student to help them settle in.
“There’s no pressure for anyone to fit into a particular niche at ACG Sunderland, and everyone is given opportunities to lead no matter what their skill level. I think that’s one of the great benefits of being part of a smaller school.”
This rich tapestry of experiences has equipped Isha with a myriad of indispensable skills, and she encourages all ACG students to make the most of the initiatives on offer.
“I’ve gained valuable time management skills and self-confidence, and I’ve learnt the value of listening to, and understanding, everyone’s ideas. It’s amazing how many people can have such different points of view! There are so many ways for students to get involved and pick up leadership at ACG, and you don’t always have to have a title. Being a leader can be as simple as being kind or doing your homework.”
For Head Boy Ethan Brown, community service is an excellent conduit for building leadership capabilities, and he is delighted to embrace its continuing importance at ACG Sunderland.
“With the introduction of Sunderland on Service, a school-wide initiative to increase the school’s footprint in our community, community service has become an integral part of school life,” Ethan says.
“For me, it’s a way to give back to the community I am in and help others enjoy it too. Every event provides fresh learning opportunities, whether that be through the people you meet, the location you’re in, or the tasks you complete. You build lifelong skills while improving the community for yourself and others. It’s a win-win situation!”
With four nominated charities supported by the school each year, there’s plenty for students to put their hands up for and contribute.
“Community service creates pathways for meeting new people and enables you to support organisations that may not directly affect you but will help others around you in the community.”
Among Ethan’s most memorable experiences was a recent tree planting event in Paremoremo’s Sanders Reserve, which aimed to reintroduce native bush to improve the habitat for local wildlife populations.
“Seeing the site covered in saplings at the end of the event was a really fulfilling experience, and I’ll be able to go back in a decade or so to see this new region of native bush that I helped plant. While the act may not have directly affected someone’s life or raised any money for the organisation, putting in the effort and seeing the results made it such a memorable service event for me.”
However, combining schoolwork, sports, and other extracurricular activities can mean that life gets pretty busy, so Ethan has the following advice for those interested in community service.
“As I see it, the best way to get into community service is to start by taking part in an event that will help something or someone you’re passionate about. If you like surfing, do a beach clean-up; if you like hiking, do a tree planting event near your favourite trails; if you enjoy shopping at the op shop, volunteer at one and help out on the other side of the counter. Starting with events closer to your heart will expand your interest in community service and motivate you to help out more in your community.”