Wakatipu High School Head Students – 2024 A formidable line-up at the helm

3 minutes read
Posted 21 February, 2024
Wakatipu High School Head Students 2024 From leftJ MasonJ JessJ AbbyJ Bethany and Jack

Wakatipu High School student leaders 2024 (from left) Mason, Jess, Abby, Bethany and Jack

Between them they can boast an impressive line-up of academic, sporting, cultural and humanitarian abilities and accomplishments, but they’re a humble bunch too, so Wakatipu High School’s five new student leaders are instead focused on everybody else.

Mason Clarke, just back from playing for New Zealand in the U19 Cricket World Cup, and Jess Hudson, who’s just spent time volunteering in a remote African school, are the Head Students this year.

Three well qualified deputies are on hand to help – Abby Fookes is an Otago U19 and U17 cricket rep, Central Otago U19 hockey rep and Southland Athletics Team member. Jack Smillie, who has his sights set on broadcasting and media, won NZ’s Best Documentary in the New Zealand Broadcasting School’s School Shorts Screen Competition last year. And Bethany Graf also brings a strong performing arts talent to the team – she and Jack playing the lead roles in the school’s production of HairSpray in April, Tracy and Edna Turnblad.

Principal Oded Nathan says with the school now growing so large, it was essential to appoint three deputy heads this year to share the workload, together with the school’s 10 Student Councils. Once again, he’s super impressed with the extremely high calibre of this year’s role models and their outstanding achievements so far.

Deputy principal Lee Hiestand agrees: “I feel we have an awesome, well-rounded team covering all aspects from sport and arts, to leadership, culture and service.”

The new leaders have come up with three goals they’ll be aiming for at the school, Jess says. “We want to encourage and increase pride in our school.” They’ll be encouraging greater participation in school sports events and House competitions. “We really want students to embrace the school culture and be part of the vibe, creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable.”

This year’s catch cry will be, ‘It’s cool to be kind’ as the leaders promote an atmosphere of kindness.

Mason says the school’s Matatū Assembly (Haka and Waiata competition) helps build a strong school culture. “I know our school haka always brings pride and encourages kindness. That’s one simple way.”

They’ll be continuing to run last year’s successful free Breakfast Club initiative and be available every Friday for students to meet with concerns, ideas, or requests.

Jess – a keen adventure racer, was third nationally representing the school in The Hillary Challenge, has been a Queenstown Cat Rescue volunteer, led Brownies and coached primary school netball and touch. She’s hoping to study medicine.

Mason’s hoping to study business or economics at uni while pursuing his international cricket career. The youngest in the U19 team which just played professional Indian Premier League players from the likes of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan, he’d love to one day make the Black Caps.

Abby, a double Sports Blues Award winner, is potentially interested in international relations, and is looking forward to organising events this year and encouraging others to try new things.

Jack has his sights on Broadcasting School or media studies at Massey, ending up either behind the camera or in front of it, already having made his TV debut presenting the weather on TVNZ at age 13.

“I’m keen to use my media background this year to influence students to get stuck into documentary making at school. I love public speaking and hope to encourage others to get involved in this too.”

Third in the Southland U18 Sailing Championships, Jack’s a keen volunteer, on hand at the Queenstown Marathon for almost eight years.

Bethany’s also thinking about media studies or performing arts and musical theatre for her future and hopefully leading the school TheatreFest team to another national title, after being part of last year’s momentous win.

Bethany’s passion this year will be to continue the good work started by former students Billie Carey and Elise Edmonds further developing Students Against Sexual Harm initiatives within the school. “I want to help educate younger students about how important consent is and strengthening that awareness to ensure they can apply it in real life,” she says.


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