Eden Marine High School’s new captains are still adjusting to their new titles, but there is no doubt they are ready to lead.
School captains Anna Auer and Lucy-Sue Beukers and vice-captains Morgan Chapple and Pelenise Ofati agreed that balancing year 12 studies and leadership roles would be a challenge, but one they were ready to tackle.
“I want to be a voice for the student body,” Lucy-Sue said.
“I hear kids speaking in the playground about some of their issues, but sometimes they don’t have the opportunity to say it or they’re a bit too nervous.
“I want to be the person to put those ideas forward.”
Morgan agreed, saying being able to give back to the school community was a main driver behind her nomination.
“The school is really community-based, whether it’s sport, marine or academics,” Morgan said.
Anna said her time at the school had been a really fun experience to date and that the captaincy was an opportunity to give back.
Morgan and fellow vice-captain Pelenise will also have the added challenge of being a leader for their siblings starting in year 7 next year.
But Pelenise was confident next year’s new students would be more comfortable than she was as a junior.
“I remember coming in and thinking, ‘I don’t really like this place’,” she said.
“I was scared of the older students. But I think I can speak for the majority of our year level that students are much more comfortable at school. We have very trusting relationships with students and the teachers.”
When asked what the biggest issue for young people in the Far South Coast was, all four leaders immediately pointed to mental health.
“The suicide rate in the Bega Valley is one the highest in the state, so concentrating more on mental health issues is a big one,” Lucy-Sue said.
Morgan said despite EMHS having great counselling resources, not everyone felt comfortable seeing a counsellor in a school environment.
“Having somewhere you can go outside of school would be a great resource,” she said.
Fortunately the Headspace mental health service in Bega will provide such a service, potentially by mid-next year.
But that raised the issue of public transport – another issue among young people in the Bega Valley Shire.
Despite the raft of challenges the new captains will face, they will have the support of prefects and the Student Representative Council.
The Merimbula News Weekly wishes them all the best in their new roles.