Imagine if you could go back in time to your school days… What would you do again? What would you definitely not do again? What were the missed opportunities – those things you wished you’d done, but in those sliding door moments, chose not to?

Watching the tapestry of action at Wesley College in 2023, one got the feeling that our current students weren’t about to let those opportunities slide by. For them, it wasn’t so much a question of sliding doors but rather, opening them – as many as possible – to experience what was inside. Looking beyond the classroom, whether they chose to be playing, performing, serving, swimming, film making, fundraising, leading, publishing… the sense of growing-by-doing was very strong.

Here a selection of our students, from Year 4 through to Year 12, share with us the doors they chose to open for themselves this year. Through them, we take a moment to celebrate the many ways our students grow at our big, restless school.

Watch Luca's story
Luca, Year 12

‘Being School Captain at the St Kilda Road Campus has been a really rewarding experience. There are a lot of diverse types of people and personalities here; being a leader at Wesley means having a lot of empathy towards different types of people so that you're able to make decisions that are best for everyone.

An initiative we implemented was allowing Wesley for the first time to have representation at the ‘Long Walk to the G’ for reconciliation, which was really special. Throughout the year at school, we've also implemented some initiatives to raise money for charities such as Fight MND, Ovarian Cancer Australia, Sacred Heart and Canteen.

I’m really interested in current affairs and that's one of the reasons why I chose the International Baccalaureate Diploma program for my Year 11 and 12. What I really like about the program is that the syllabus is globally based and it's something that's undertaken by students all across the world, not just in Victoria.’

Watch Noah's story
Noah, Year 12

‘Describing my experience at Wesley, I'd probably say it's comprehensive - there's not a lot that I haven't tried.

I was in the Boys' Firsts Premiership Basketball team this year, winning for the first time in 13 years! I've made my own short film…I've 3D printed my own water bottle that I use every day… there's not a lot that was left out of my education. I was School Captain this year.

I think the qualities that make a good leader are integrity, a good character and being able to lead by example. A good leader should also be empathetic. They should be able to listen and most importantly, actually understand what people are trying to say as well. And I think a good leader should be passionate, so passionate that it's unquestionable, and even a little bit infectious.

Besides general leadership skills, I’ve learned a lot about public speaking. I still remember the first time I was at the lectern and tested my voice on the microphone – I was kind of quivering and shaking and my voice was all over the place! I look at myself now and I think I've come quite a long way!’

Watch Amy's story
Amy, Year 12

‘I absolutely adore being at Wesley. I used to live in Singapore and at my old school, we really didn't have very many extracurricular activities.

Coming to Wesley in Year 9, it was all a bit overwhelming at first, but then I just realised, ‘Oh, I really do need to take advantage of all these opportunities… it's like once in a lifetime!’

I started doing theatre in Year 10, just in the chorus, and then in Year 11, I finally got the courage to audition for something – I was Ophelia in Hamlet and also Belle in Beauty and the Beast. And then this year, I was Abigail in The Crucible, and also Fantine in Les Miserables!

After school, I'm planning to audition for some performing arts colleges. But also, I might do science first and then performing arts, because I do want a back-up plan. But if I do science, I'm going to do amateur theatre and I'm going to keep up my dancing and singing, because I can't live without performing.’

Watch Gabby's story
Gabby, Year 11

‘I play violin and I'm in three orchestral ensembles: Symphony Orchestra, String Orchestra and a Chamber Group – a quartet with two violins, a viola and a cello. And I sing in three of the choirs! Pop Choir, the big choir that lots of people do, Senior Choir, the top vocal ensemble, and Kawhi, the seven-person small group. It's really fun to perform and rehearse with a bunch of people who love music as much as you do.

I've been Captain of the Table Tennis Firsts team for two years now. I was also Vice-Captain before that and have been on the team since Year 8. It's a really positive culture and everyone just loves playing together. The biggest challenge captaining the Firsts was encouraging everyone, and making sure everyone felt comfortable putting themselves forward, showing that anyone could do it and it didn't matter who you were.

I got involved in Wesmob this year, and I'm Ceremonies and Socials Prefect for next year so I’ll be organising all the social events and helping to organise the Year 12 Formal.'

Watch Elliot's story
Elliot, Year 10

‘Wesley is a community. It's not just about teaching, it's also about connecting with everyone. I’m on the Campus Advisory Committee, which means I’m a voice for the people of my year level. The committee discusses ways to improve the school; this could include making sure that the uniform policy is reasonable or trying to connect the Middle School with the Senior School, which mainly happens through sport and music.

I’m also on the eSafety Youth Council, a division of the government’s eSafety Commission. It’s really exciting. We came up with a bunch of ideas as to how the online space can be improved. And we thought of one main priority, making a video to call for Big Tech to impose consequences on the people who break the rules or who have affected, harmed or abused anyone online.

I've played a few instruments over my time. I started with piano, then I moved on to drums, and then guitar and I'm in a few bands for guitar. I'm in the Big Bands jazz program, a band with a woodwind, brass and rhythm section, and I'm also in the guitar ensemble - there's so many opportunities if you want to involve yourself with music.’

Watch Jen's story
Jennifer, Year 12

‘I’m originally from the northeast of Victoria and started boarding at Glen Waverley in Year 11. My boarding experience at Wesley has been amazing.

We have about three or four activities every weekend as well as throughout the week, and we have access to the gym and the pool on campus.

I had a go at playing volleyball last year, which I'd never played before, but it was great. I've still been able to play soccer, which is a huge passion of mine. Winning the championship last year was pretty phenomenal. And being Captain of the Firsts, leading the younger girls, has been awesome as well. It was very unexpected.

At the start, I felt like I wasn't qualified for it, only being at Wesley for a year. But I think that leadership isn't about how long you've been involved in something, but what you can bring to it. I truly believe that anyone can be a leader; it's about making the most of what you've got. I have loved being the Wesmob Prefect at Wesley, ensuring that the Indigenous voice is heard on campus.’

Watch Thevin's story
Thevin, Year 8

‘What I love about Wesley is the teachers and students here. They're very nice and friendly and the overall environment here makes me always happy to come to school every day. It's really interesting to learn about new things. Very positive feedback from teachers helps us improve, which is something that happens a lot here.

I've been House Leader and Publications and Promotions Leader in Years 7 and 8. For House, I assisted the Year 9 captains in setting up athletics and House arts. For Publications, we write articles on things that happen around the school, working on a magazine together to inform the whole school about what's going on.

I won a ROAR Sport award for the Year 8C footy team for showing respect and leadership to my coaches and teammates. I was also involved in Seussical, a musical about Dr. Seuss's characters. Me and my mates just wanted to give it a try, just to see what the musicals here at Wesley were like. We had a great time, and the staff that were working with us made it really fun.’

Watch Angus' story
Angus, Year 6

‘I came to Wesley last year at the start of Year 5. It was great from the start. What I love about Wesley are the opportunities and the encouragement from the teachers and the coaching, and basically everything about it. I knew there was lots of sport on offer at Wesley, like athletics, footy and swimming. Everyone knows Wesley's got a good reputation for footy; it’s a good school to be at if you want to play.

I got nominated last year to do regional swimming and regional athletics and then State athletics. This year, I got put forward to try out for the Under 12 Victorian team for footy, and I just made it to State for long jump in athletics.

I made the AFL Next Gen Academy, which is a training camp for the Under 13 Boys. It goes for eight weeks next year, and then 12 weeks, and then more. It’s basically like a pathway from where I am now to AFL, and that's the end goal, really.

My favourite thing about playing footy is the teamwork. When you win, you get to celebrate with your team and I like team sports more than anything else.’

Watch Paloma and Tom's story
Paloma, Year 5

'When I first came to the Elsternwick Campus, you could feel the energy. We are really strong with sport, music and theatre. I love it. I joined the swimming program in Term 1, which is really cool, and I’m involved in the Monday morning choir.

This year, for the production, we did The Wizard of Oz, and performed at the National Theatre. The teachers put so much effort into the script and polishing the show - it was really special. Being a Munchkin was also really fun. Putting on the clothes and the makeup was really exciting.'

Tom, Year 5

'From my first day at Elsternwick, everyone was inviting me to come over and play. It's such a nice feeling to know that lots of people care about you.I’m involved in Pride Group, which meets every Tuesday at lunchtime. Everyone is included and everyone knows anyone's welcome here. You can be however you want to be, and nobody will judge you.

We did some rainbow nail painting for ‘Wear It Purple Day’ and dipped our finger in paint and put it on this line - a rainbow line with everyone's fingerprints. That was really cool. It's just good to be inclusive. Everyone can say anything and nobody will laugh.’

Zara, Junior School

‘I’m the Social Justice Leader. I applied for the role because I wanted to make a difference. One morning, I went to the supermarket with my Mum and saw that Woolworths was fundraising for ‘Oz Harvest’ and if you donated $0.50, you would feed someone in need of a meal. On our way home, I realised if I donated $10, I could feed 20 people and if I donated $50, I'd feed 100 people, so I had an idea to get the whole school together and try to raise $500 which would feed 1000 people.

At the end of year celebration, I stood up with Ms DeBono and made an announcement to everyone to get involved and to donate. And at the Twilight Picnic, me and one of my friends walked around and collected donations. We ended up raising more and fed 2,200 people!

Social justice is important to me because it makes a difference in people's lives. I’d definitely recommend other students to be social justice leaders because making a big impact makes you feel good and also makes others feel good.’

Discovering doorways to growth

Enjoy these additional online-exclusive video interviews!

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