The Dream Team
Congratulations to the incoming College Leaders!
Denva, Elise, Georgia and Naomi in College I have been appointed to assume the mantle from Alicia, Hannah, Isla, Sasha and Sonia as the College II girls complete their school years and step out to explore new horizons. Under normal circumstances, the 20-21 team would already have assumed their duties, but at a time where the nation is easing out of lockdown and final examinations for A-Level and GCSE studies are cancelled, this year’s handover is a fresh new process.
We caught up with the new College Leaders to find out what lays ahead in the coming months. Denva is weighing up options between universities offering Chemistry and Psychology. Georgia plans to travel through the summer and pursue a degree apprenticeship while Naomi is reviewing university options to study English in the UK but also abroad. Elise hopes to study Dance Science at Trinity Laban, and has been at The Mount since Year 7; the other girls all joined in the Sixth Form.
Since you joined The Mount, what have you learned about yourself?
Elise: I love languages and I’m genuinely interested in learning about cultures in other countries. Since Year 7, I’ve had the opportunity to learn French, German and Latin and I’m actually taking German for A-Level. Had I gone to another school, I might not have had those opportunities.
Naomi: I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger, mentally, than I thought I was. The school has shown me ways I didn’t think I could extend myself, and that has changed how I now approach a challenge. For one thing, I am now less likely to say “No” if someone presents me with something new or particularly difficult!
Georgia: My first day here was my 17th Birthday and I kept it quiet. When I arrived the next day, some of the girls had brought in cupcakes, got me a card, and surprised me by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ as I walked into my study! I’ve learnt that friends are so important. I’m usually the one to get stressed when things aren’t working out, and since being at The Mount, I’ve gained close friendships with friends who are always there for me, supporting me through each step. The different cultures in the school is also an opportunity to open yourself up to thinks you might not have expected. Making friends and communicating in other languages is really nice.
Denva: I dropped studying German, but have been able to keep learning through speaking with the German students. I’m even learning a bit of Mandarin from the College IIs! I’ve learned that I’m actually more confident than I’d let myself believe. From my first day here, I had a sense of belonging. It’s okay here to be different, to have an alternative taste in fashion or music. The school traditions like College Pantomime and Games in the Dark opened my eyes to how important it is to have a sense of community where, whatever you’re doing, it’s accepted. That environment encourages personal growth; Quaker Meetings focus on self-reflection and I’ve discovered that it is important to me.
What do you think girls in these times gain from an all-girls education?
Naomi: It’s very important, for both younger and older girls. Even though I haven’t been here long, I’ve found the school to be a ‘safe haven’ of sorts, where girls can grow at their own pace and figure out what they want to do in life. It gives girls the kind of confidence they wouldn’t find in a co-ed school and, in my opinion, that is important for being able to thrive in wider society and an increasingly competitive world.
Elise: An all-girls’ education nowadays encourages us into subjects that may elsewhere be male-dominated. It also allows us to be vocal in lessons where we might not be as comfortable to talk about or speak up if boys were around.
Denva: An all–girl environment highlights that, while it is okay to be different, in certain aspects we are very much the same. There is a relatability between year groups and between each other.
Georgia: The biggest classes in College are Chemistry and Psychology. Chemistry is thought of elsewhere as male-dominated and yet, here there are so many girls who study it. Being all girls allows girls from a young age to express themselves. As they move up through school, they grow without the competition from boys. They don’t just inhabit the background. The only voice you hear is a girl’s, and to be around that is really empowering; as it pushes you to be best possible version of yourself.
What do you hope to achieve as a College Leader?
Denva: The Mount already has a very close community and I’d like to help the girls feel there are no barriers between the year groups. Part of our role is to amplify the voices of people who want improvements within College or even throughout the school. There are endless opportunities for people to be involved. We are here to help discover what changes are possible, and I think that’s very exciting.
Georgia: That’s why our group chat is called Dream Team instead of College Leadership! As a member of the Team, I’m looking forward to getting to know the younger years and listening to their thoughts. I hope we achieve success, whether that is making the younger girls feel happier and safer, or providing them with more opportunities.
Elise: Having been at The Mount since Year 7, I have always looked up to the College Leadership Team, or Head Girls as they were then known. They were role models for the entire school and, in a sense, captured the essence of what The Mount is. They inspired me to want to make the most of the many opportunities we have here, such as through PeaceJam or various trips, and they achieved amazing things, like going abroad to study in America at Ivy League universities or being the youngest woman to sail the Clipper Round the World. I hope I can inspire the younger girls because that’s certainly what those Head Girls were for me. College Leaders also help the students listen to what the teachers and staff want and vice versa; that’s an important role for supporting the unique community spirit that we have here.
Naomi: As a College Leader, I really want to inspire the sense of community and kindness. Kindness makes the world a little brighter, and everyone’s day a little better. I hope I can bring people together and make the school and College community a friendlier and more amicable place than it already is (if that is even possible!).
To your mind, what are the hallmarks of a Mount education?
Georgia: I think a unique aspect of The Mount is being the only all-girl Quaker school. For those who’ve never been to an all-girl school or heard of Quakers, I tell them The Mount is a place where everyone is genuinely lovely. It’s a small school, which means you receive incredible support from staff and students. That allows you as a person to grow in confidence, because everyone truly believes in you and genuinely cares about your well-being. I’ve been the kind of person who tries to do everything, but I’ve learned to focus, and not wear myself out. The teachers see that, and they understand because the class sizes are so small that there is nowhere to hide. It’s such a great environment and I’m so glad that I came here for Sixth Form.
Denva: So much about The Mount is different to anywhere else; the equality between staff and students; the support network is amazing. You’ve got support for everything. Whatever problem I have, I know there is someone to go to and something I can do about it. When I first arrived, the College IIs and staff were an enormous help; they created an entire welcoming experience which made me immediately feel like I’ve always been here.
Naomi: The school’s Quaker ethos, kindness and equality makes us unique, and makes The Mount a great place to learn. Something else however, is a quality I think the school has – one I’m not quite sure how to describe. As a school we know we’re quite different; you’re going to get a weirder and more wonderful education than you would anywhere else. That we embrace this is, I think, an incredible characteristic which both sets us apart from the rest, but is also fun to laugh about together.
Elise: Since Year 7 I have always had Dance commitments outside of school. If ever I was feeling stressed, I’ve always had Mr McAleese to talk to; I know I am lucky to have that support for keeping everything in balance. The facilities are also quite special. Not every school gives you your own dedicated study area. The swimming pool, the pool table, the fitness suite, the art rooms, the Common Room, the Steinway pianos; so many things all help to bring us together as a community. There’s always something going on, something to look forward to. I don’t think there’s ever a dull moment.
We say of The Mount that #WeKnowGirlsCan. What do you wish girls knew they could do?
Elise: We are encouraged to pursue what we want to do. If you want to go into robotics, or architecture, there are no boundaries to what you can achieve. Literally.
Naomi: Girls need to know that whatever they want to do, they can without feeling embarrassed or judged or insecure. I want the girls here to never let the judgements of others stop them or slow them down.
Georgia: I wish that the girls knew:
- a little Winnie the Pooh quote ‘You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think’
- a quote that my mum always says: ‘Worry settles nothing, just wait for things to mend, fret not over problems, life solves them in the end’
- you only live once, so enjoy every moment
- but also don’t just listen to me, I’m only 17! Ask your grandparents or people in a retirement home. They are very wise!
Denva: You have so many opportunities and resources to get you where you want to be. Catch up sessions with your personal tutor shows that the community really cares, and want you to do well. You still must put in the hard work and effort, but having their support makes everything so much better.
Who are your heroes?
Georgia: There is no one I aspire to be like, as I’m my own person and don’t wish to be like anyone else. However, one of my heroes who has shaped my life, was my Grandma. She taught me how important it is to be kind, thoughtful and caring. She always put others before herself and I hope to take that with me for the rest of my life.
Denva: I have different role models. One of them is (USA Women’s football captain) Megan Rapinoe. Not only did she steal the show at the last World Cup, by being the best player there, she used that platform for her activism. She is committed to many causes, including LGBT, and she really inspires me to use my own voice as much as I can. My mum, my dad and other members of my family are also heroes, to me, and have shown themselves to be incredible role models.
Naomi: Whenever someone is standing up for what they know isn’t right, such as the ardent feminists of our society and the millions of brave souls standing up for the BLM movement right now, or helping others just because they know it’s the right thing to do, such as our NHS heroes bravely fighting against the current situation: that, to me, is what makes someone a hero.
Elise: I am influenced by people in my life as well as by public figures. I admire Emma Watson not only for her work in the performing arts but also for promoting girls’ education and as a UN Goodwill ambassador. My mum is also a hero, to me. She’s gone through a lot in her life and it reminds me that you can be strong through whatever life may bring. Having different influences in your life opens your mind to how different people can be, but also to how you can influence others in turn.
The outgoing team is already supporting the girls, pairing up to help train and mentor the College I team. In the past, the two teams would have taken a residential training but with current travel restrictions in place, they have explored fresh, new ways to pass on the benefit of their knowledge and experiences.
Georgia says, “I hope we can fill their shoes.”
There can be no doubt, the girls will make their mentors proud.