Student leaders across Port Stephens honoured at special event

The school leaders of Port Stephens for 2024.

SCHOOL captains, prefects and student body representatives were invited to St Philip’s Christian College on Friday 23 February to be recognised and encouraged in their roles at the annual School Leaders Morning Tea.

This event, sponsored by the office of State MP Kate Washington, has been a mainstay for all the schools of Port Stephens for more than a decade.

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School students and teachers, principals and support staff gather together at the hosting school to meet with one another as well as leaders from the community, to share thoughts and experiences and to hear from special guests who can share about the impact that leaders can have when they are engaged in their passions.

The proceedings opened with a beautiful Welcome to Country from St Philips Director of Aboriginal Education Johnathon Lilley and his cohort of junior school students.

Addressing the delegates in the Gathang language, Mr Lilley told students in attendance: “We listen to the elders, for they have wisdom to share.”

The microphone was then handed to Ms Washington to introduce the guest speakers for the day.

“These events are – hands down – the highlight of my year, every year,” she said.

“Mr Lilley reminded us of something important, that we should listen to our elders because they have things to teach us.

“But young people have a great deal to offer as well, and we should make the time to listen.”

She then opened the floor to the gathered young people to offer their answers to the question: ‘What are the qualities of a leader?’.

For the next ten minutes the students responded, and their insights left the adults in the theatre overwhelmed.

So much so that both Ms Washington and the guest speakers, Lia and Ryan Pereira of Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters and not-for-profit rescue group Sea Shelter, dispensed of a fair amount of their prepared notes on leadership, stating that the children already had a solid grasp on what makes a good leader.

Lia encouraged the children to “choose your true north” as they considered the future that they would create for themselves, while Ryan reminded everyone of one of the most often ignored principles of being a leader: “It’s OK to make mistakes, because it gives you the chance to learn and correct them.”

Following a group photograph the students and staff enjoyed mingling over morning tea before a ceremony in which more than 200 children were presented with a Port Stephens School Leader certificate.

By Lindsay HALL

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