The first Assemblies of the Junior and Senior School year are dedicated to Commencement and Leadership. We officially recognise our new Student Leaders and Council. We also welcome our co-curriculum leaders, and the Year 6 and 12 cohorts as leaders.
At these gatherings, held in the past couple of weeks, we congratulated our new student leaders, but we also reflected on the thought that every student is a leader. The only difference between leaders is the place or context where they lead. Students can lead themselves, a sports team, a choir or an ensemble, and they can aspire to lead a large company.
We often speak about how every student has the role of leading herself or himself into the future. It is something we can decide to do today and have an impact on what happens tomorrow. When we lead, we lead ourselves and others into the future. This is why being a leader is so exciting; it is full of hope and possibilities to create the future you wish to see. There has been a subtle shift in the qualities that we wish to see in our contemporary leaders. It is not an entirely new or reinvented era of leadership, but there are new opportunities for young aspiring leaders to take up leadership roles. While at school, and as a student moves through the year levels, there are many opportunities to practise the skills required to become a quality leader and to continue to grow, regardless of your age or role.
To the students:
Your family values, role models and your schooling will encourage you in the development of quality and effective leadership skills. But you must practice, beginning today; you must practice principled leadership which is a matter of how to be, as well as how to do.
An example of modern leadership for you to ponder is New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Ms Ardern demonstrates a more contemporary style that is gaining admiration and support from a broader group than just the citizens of New Zealand.
She has not demanded leadership with violence and fear but earned it through effective leadership in action. Her leadership is characterised by both, how to be and how to do. Following the terrorist attack in Christchurch, shocked by the targeting of innocent civilians for no reason other than their faith, PM Ardern’s leadership has been an inspiration. Not only is she delivering swift action on legislation, she has sent a powerful message around the world about shared values: that those who seek to divide communities will struggle to succeed, and that New Zealand will protect and celebrate the diversity and openness that is valued in their country. Ms Ardern, as a leader, stood up for hope, unity and inclusiveness in the face of fear and division.
There are many examples of contemporary leadership in the public eye, and many more that we see in our everyday grassroots interactions. We hope you, our students, find the place or context where you would like to lead, beginning with yourselves and if you decide, you can visualise the impact you will make on tomorrow, and help create and contribute to the future you wish to see.
Mrs Anna Owen