Congratulations to Melissa Hennessy who has been announced as the new Head Girl, and Jess Fitter and Ciara Losty who are the new Deputy Head Girls. The Head Girl team are representatives for the whole school and have the important task of leading the student voice, as well as organising a variety of events.
The selection process as always was fiercely contested and the girls took part in a slightly different process than usual. Normally the candidates give a speech in front of the school, however this year it was done via video submissions due to the current situation. As well as this the girls faced an interview before the staff and pupils then voted for the candidates. After the results were announced the girls answered a few questions about their new roles!
Q: Congratulations on becoming the new Head Girl/Deputy Head Girls, how does it feel?
Melissa: Thank you! I’m honestly still quite shocked about it all – I definitely wasn’t expecting it! It’s really exciting though, and I can’t wait to get back to school to start life as Head Girl! I really have no idea what to expect, which is both thrilling and daunting, especially when everything will be so different this year. But it’s really humbling to have been given this opportunity, it’s a massive honour and I’m really looking forward to working with the other girls next year.
Jess: Thank you. It feels great that I am in a position to have this opportunity to represent the girls in the school and to hopefully make some changes that they would like to see. I’ve loved my time at Merchants’ and I’m excited to be able to give something back to the school that has provided me with so many opportunities and amazing memories.
Ciara: Thank you! To be honest I did not at all think that I was going to get it. But, I just wanted to give it a go as I saw it as an opportunity to leave a positive mark on the school. That being said, I am really excited for when we can return back to school and I can take upon the role, alongside the Senior Team.
Q: What do you hope to achieve during your time as Head Girl/Deputy Head Girl?
Melissa: The biggest thing that I would like to focus on in the coming year would definitely be improving awareness about mental wellbeing in school, as I think this is really important. I’d love to see this sort of thing discussed in PSHE sessions so that everyone has the opportunity to learn to look after themselves. I also really want to work on strengthening the house system, whether that be through more inter-house competitions or even just more regular house assemblies, as I think this would strengthen identity and a sense of belonging.
Jess: One of the main things that I would like to achieve along with the rest of the Head Girl Team is more of an integration of the school years through things such as sport, music, drama and other extracurricular clubs. I want the girls in the lower years of the school to be able to come and speak to the older students and for them to feel comfortable to be able to make friends throughout the whole school. I know that it can be difficult, since most of your school life, both academically and outside of the classroom, is spent with your own year group, so this is something that I would like to try and change.
Ciara: I would want to be seen as someone who is approachable who you could chat and have fun with but also someone students would be comfortable enough to share their worries with. As most likely, I have been in similar situations. Similarly, if students feel that something in the school needs development, I would hope that along with the rest of the team we could improve this.
Q: How are you finding working from home at the present time?
Melissa: It’s obviously a really weird time, and it’s certainly a lot harder than actually being in school. You’ve got to motivate yourself to just get on with your work or attend Skype lessons, which is sometimes quite difficult! In other ways though it has given me the time to do things that I might not have been doing otherwise, for example research into different courses at universities and working on my EPQ. It’s also strange not seeing your friends everyday, but at least not having a long bus journey means I don’t have to be up as early!
Jess: I am definitely finding it more challenging than it would be if we were still in school. The teachers have been so helpful when setting work for us from home, so I am able to keep on top of it all. The organisational aspect of it is more challenging. You have to be organised to make sure that you join your Skype calls on time and send in the right homework every day. The whole process has definitely become easier than when we started out though, which is good.
Ciara: To be honest, it varies from day to day.
Some days I am extremely motivated, where I do all my school work and extra revision. Whilst others, I spend indulging in the newest Netflix series. This week alone, I’ve started and completed Outer banks and Tiger King – all which I very much recommend.
Despite the greater temptations of Tik Tok and Disney + at grasp, I feel that I am getting more work done than in school as in terms of frees, I now do my homework from the lesson prior or make notes. Where in school, I would take daily trips to Home Bargains for 12 crème eggs or play Chase the Ace with friends.
Q: Do you have any tips for other students?
Melissa: I would just say try your best to keep up with the work you’re being set, and if you have any questions don’t let the physical barrier prevent you from asking them, always make sure to get in contact with your teachers. I find keeping to your normal school timetable really useful, as it keeps you organised and stops you from falling behind on work. But most importantly try not to worry too much about how your learning is being impacted, as everyone in the country is in the same situation. Instead try to make the most of this weird time to learn something new, reach out to friends and family or even just enjoy the nice weather!
Jess: Something that I’ve been trying to do, which I have found very useful, is sticking to the school time table the best that I can. I know that it can be difficult because there can be many more distractions at home, but I like to write down a list each morning of the things that I have to do for that day and give each task a slot in the school timetable. I find it much easier that way to keep organised and on top of everything when I know what I have to do. I also think that it is important to take regular breaks and try and get outside when you can, because it can become difficult to concentrate when you’re sat at a desk all day.
Ciara:I would say what has helped me the most to stay on track with my school work, is by keeping to my normal school day. This could mean attending a skype call or doing work set in the normal lesson time. To prevent getting overwhelmed by school work, I would recommend trying to make notes after each lesson and doing your homework following it being set. As I know how overcoming it can be having an history essay, biology questions and chemistry test all due for the next day when I’ve left my work to last minute. It is important to balance school work with relaxation – something which I’m still trying to do! Make sure to take a time out when things seem too much – facetime a friend, play with your pet or read a book. As I know I work less effectively when I feel stressed.
Q: For those who may want to follow in your footsteps and become Head Girl/Deputy Head Girl one day, what advice would you offer?
Melissa: I’d say it’s really important to take yourself outside of your comfort zone and get involved in some of the extracurricular activities in school, as I’ve found this is not just the way I’ve made some of my closest friends, but it has allowed me to develop some of the skills necessary for being Head Girl. It can present opportunities for you to take on more responsibility and allows you to develop skills such as public speaking or leadership. Of course when I was doing these things I never anticipated it would lead me to where I am now, but in reflection I think that these experiences have given me the confidence and skill set to fulfill the role.
Jess: I would say to anyone to just go for it. I understand that the whole process can be a bit daunting and I was definitely taken out of my comfort zone, but it was certainly worth it in the end. Whatever the outcome of your application, the process is really useful. You gain the experience of writing an application, having an interview with the head mistress and the head of sixth form and delivering a speech to the whole school, even if it was by video this year! All of these things are extremely beneficial and give good experience for later life. I would encourage any girl who wants to apply for any position in the Senior Committee to do so. It’s an amazing opportunity and a chance to represent the school and make the changes that you want to see.
Ciara: For me, I know that in younger years I never would have dreamed of applying for the role of Deputy Head Girl. I was way too shy and would be too scared to even speak in lessons. With this in mind, you could be the loudest, most out-going person to the most introverted and timid – you are all capable of what you put your mind to. I think to be able to grow as a person, you must challenge yourself. This is something that I have begun to do as I’ve gone through Merchants by taking hold of everything the school offers. You don’t want to look back on all the opportunities you didn’t take and wonder ‘What if.’