Our students sure do have a lot to teach us, and this is why at Oakleigh Grammar we believe ‘Student Voice’ is essential for growth as a School. We aim to empower students to take action that will lead to change. In our segment of ‘Student Voice’ in the most recent issue of Grammar News we interviewed Year 11 student Alexander who is a member of our SRC. Alexander has provided some insight into his journey as a student at Oakleigh Grammar so far, his plans for the future and what he would do differently if he was the Principal of the School.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what is one thing you really enjoy?
My name is Alexander Logan, I am 16 years old, I am Romanian on my mother’s side and Irish on my father’s side. I have an older brother who is married and a younger sister in year 6. I enjoy reading, watching TV shows, and learning about the natural world especially our fauna and flora. I have one more year left of high school and then I hope to go to Melbourne University to study a Bachelor of Science with a major in ‘Animal Health and Disease’ and then to get my ‘Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine’. My passion is animals, obviously. My end goal is to be a Vet and to educate people about our capacity to help conserve our natural environment and why we need to.
What is it like being a student here?
I have been at the School for 8 years and every day I have been a student here I have seen what our School focuses on and that is truly on leadership, community, and future. We have a number of programs to help us to become leaders, to be part of a supporting and loving community, and to look to our future and persevere to get to where we want to be. With these three focuses our School helps to instill values like responsibility, reliability, problem solving, optimists and being balanced, to be our best and then to push ourselves to be even better. This is what I think it’s like being a student at Oakleigh Grammar.
What do you like most about being a student here?
I love the fact that from the 8 years that I have been here for, I have learned things about myself that I never thought possible and I have done things I never would have imagined. As a student who used to have Petit Mal, a form of epilepsy, Oakleigh Grammar never told me that I couldn’t do something. They helped me to use my disability and to grow my confidence to public speak, to represent those who cannot represent themselves and to stand up for what I believe in.
Imagine you are the Principal – what would you do differently to improve things for your classmates?
To be completely honest, I’m not sure. The students are good, the teachers are supportive, and the subjects are engaging. However personally, I think maybe the School should get involved with more activities to teach students about the conservation of the environment and do develop a greater responsibility for their actions around it. This could be as simple as getting involved in community projects like community gardens, or even having workshops with animals and speakers to help inspire the young kids and to encourage older kids to understand that they can do more.
Do you have a lot of chances to speak up and share your ideas in this School?
Yes, I do. We have lots of supportive Year 11 home group teachers, in particular our coordinator Manoj Patel, who is always asking for our opinion and giving us a chance to speak up if we are not happy about something or even if we are happy about it. Additionally, we have regular SRC meetings where we are given a run down on what’s happening and what needs to be done. In these meetings we have the chance to speak about concerns within our cohort and to give feedback on matters the School has done.
What can teachers do to make you feel more heard and supportive?
Not much, we already have a lot of class discussions on a number of topics in our pastoral sessions and we also get to have discussions in our home groups, in-between classes and during breaks, as well as after and out of School.
What kind of classroom environment do you learn best in?
I learn well in classrooms where there is open discussion and when we get to do practicals or when we use real life stories and examples to compare our content learned to the real world.
What kind of people did you choose to take with you to Mars?
People who are loyal with reason, driven, hard-working, honest, problem solvers, skilled, industrious, people who work well in groups, and who are supportive, sympathetic, empathetic. These people would be artists, scientists, philosophers, leaders and ordinary people.
What excites you about the future?
EVERYTHING. I don’t know how else to say it. I am excited about university, crossing that bridge into my next stage of life. I am excited about learning new things, things that I love. I am excited for the new bonds and relationships I will make and the old ones that I will keep intact. When I think of my future, I get nervous with delight.
How can the School support you to prepare for that future?
To get us more involved with out of school activities which get us thinking about life beyond. Talking to a range of people who have found success in their future and are happy in their situation. Bringing ex-students to show us that the future we want is not a stretch for us.
What is the one thing you learned this year that you think will be most helpful for you?
I think that 2020 has surprised everyone. I have found that although life throws you fires, a pandemic, and keeps you locked inside, you shouldn’t let it get the best of you. As long as you keep an eye on what you want, and if you have a clear goal, you will get what you want. You may feel unmotivated, but it doesn’t last, all you need to do is grind and grind. Maybe do something a little different, but as long as you persevere you will come out on the other side kicking. Additionally, I learned that I have friends and family that are so supportive, and that I am not alone. A quote that I wish to impart on everyone that I found helpful over this year is from Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.”