We are delighted that Ellie Austin (Yr11 He) and Ned Cole (Yr11 P) are representing GGS as School Captains in 2023. Light Blue spoke to Ellie and Ned about the year ahead.

How have you settled into your new role as school captain? And was there a moment that it sunk in for you?

Ned: It has been a busy first term in the position, with many exciting (and some scary!) experiences. I have felt very welcomed by the whole campus which has made the transition into the role a lot easier. The moment in which it sunk in for me was before and during our first address to the School. We were both very nervous before the speech but after we had done it, I think we fully appreciated the new role we were in and felt more assured that we were going to be able to fulfill the requirements of a leader at GGS.

Ellie: I remember the day I was announced as School Captain, I was coming back to my house for recess, walking through Middle School just as I had done every day since Year 10. Except this time, suddenly everyone knew my name. So many students were saying “Hello Ellie” and I was so surprised because I remember being at my primary school and thinking of the school captains as these idols or celebrities and it was so overwhelming at the time to think that I am now that person. I think for me, the whole role felt surreal for a few weeks but after I completed my first solo speech towards the end of Term 4, everything finally began to feel real. I suppose for me, it was this realisation that these school captains I had idolised for years were just normal people. I still want to be a warm, approachable figure, even for the youngest students in our school.

Why do you think there is such a strong sense of community at GGS?

Ellie: GGS is surrounded with unique opportunities catered to everyone. There are so many to choose from; whether it’s trying out a new sport, joining the debating team or participating in the School musical, the possibilities are endless. With the number of opportunities presented to people, it comes with the chance to meet new people, some that one might have never previously encountered. The sense of community at GGS stems from this flow of opportunity. This intersection between “community” and “opportunity”, allows for people of achieve a sense of belonging within GGS, which in turn, brings the strong sense of community to the surface. I think that with the combination of the boarding and day boarding models, and the variety of co-curricular activities, it allows for these strong connections between staff and students to be created that I think are so integral and unique to GGS.

Ned: All GGS students, both boarders and day-boarders, spend a lot of time on campus, doing small things like eating meals together and playing sport or music after school which is unlike many other schools. It is through these activities that we have built a community which is amazing to be a part of. The relationships with both teachers and students within the school and, in particular, in houses is unique. Each house is its own community which people grow to love, then placing these houses together in different events, such as House Music, sees a competitive but friendly environment which draws everyone closer and creates an amazing community.

What is your favourite place or space at Corio Campus, and what makes it so special to you?

Ellie: My favourite place at the Corio Campus is the Hermitage Rose Gardens. It is a little garden tucked around the side of The Hermitage, and if you didn’t know that it was there, you would pass it without seeing it. However, each spring and summer, the garden is full of the most beautiful and divine smelling roses and flowers. I love it because it is like my own little secluded island of paradise, yet so close to the place I get to call home, which always helps to boost my mood and allows me to detach from the busy schedule that is school and boarding life.

Ned: Many people don’t realise that I love reading, love old books and tradition. The Hawker Library is a place that I have coveted since I first heard about it in Year 10. It is steeped in tradition and is a respectful, quiet place where I can study now that I am in Year 12. Of course, Perry House will also always hold a huge place in my heart, forever.

What does service mean to you and how does it influence your approach to leadership?

Ned: Being at a school like GGS means that I am lucky enough to be presented with an excellent education, am taught by kind and passionate teachers as well as being given numerous amazing opportunities. I think it is extremely important that through service activities, we are taught to appreciate all that we have and taught how important it is to give back to the community members who aren’t as lucky as us. Service has made me realise the importance of recognising everyone in the community as a contributor and potential leader. Through experiences such as Lorne 160 and Timbertop, I am able to recognise the importance of service to the wider community which I will look to implement into my leadership and further on in my career and life.

Ellie: To me, service is a word I tie in closely with support and love. I don’t think people truly understand how much a simple act of kindness can change someone’s life for the better until they experience it first-hand. Even though service sounds like a word associated with duty and obligations, for me, physical actions speak louder than words. Serving my community through passion and dignity and giving time to listen to everyone are two components that will influence my role as a leader in 2023.