Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa. My name is Shardey and it has been an absolute privilege to be one of the Head Students of 2019.
While at times it has been very challenging and exhausting, especially as we faced the aftermath of the March 15th massacre, being a Prefect has been an extremely rewarding and fulfilling position to be in. In the last 10 months, we have been able to have such a meaningful impact around the school and within the wider Hornby community, and in moments of doubt, this is something that has continuously reassured me of our mission to serve others. Now, as I think back to all of the activities and events that we held throughout the duration of the year, it is amazing to think we even managed to cram it all in. That is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our team this year, and I know that we can all walk away now feeling proud of the legacy that we have left behind. Thank you to our fellow students, teachers, whānau, and members of the community who have supported our team and made all of our events possible this year.
No words can begin to describe how I feel other than grateful and blessed. When I became a student here in 2014 after the closure of Branston Intermediate, I never would have envisioned a future where I would be a leader within our school. I did not even envision a future where I would graduate high school. As a junior student, I was a little rebellious, to say the least, so it is safe to say that I am probably not the only one who is surprised that I ended up where I am now 4-5 years down the track.
It was after hearing previous Head Boy Sam Fa'allio present his speech at my Year 10 Prizegiving that something within me changed. I had reached a turning point, and I left our school’s auditorium not only feeling inspired, but also empowered. This was the first time that I was able to resonate with the story of someone who was a role model within our school, and as he talked about his journey and the mistakes he’d made as a junior, he explained to us how those mistakes helped him to become the leader he was. This ultimately changed the course of my journey because if it were not for Sam sharing his story, I don’t think I would have believed I was ever going to be capable of becoming a Prefect or in fact achieving anything in life.
So the following year in 2017, I was determined to redeem myself. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I was committed to being better, to doing better. I set many goals for myself, which at times seemed far out of reach. But with a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance, I not only achieved them, but I exceeded my own expectations, and for the first time, I truly believed in myself. Looking back now, while I used to be very embarrassed, I like sharing my story especially with our junior students. Not because I am proud of it, but because I was able to grow from it and because like Sam, I want to use my experiences to help other students that just need that spark to ignite their potential.
So I would encourage all students, and in fact any individual it may resonate with, to just be yourself and believe in yourself. Because life is a journey - filled with a combination of lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, and celebrations. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. But struggling is part of the journey, so it is important that we stay patient and trust the process. It is also important to note that we are not all destined for the same path, so we must find our own truth - our own purpose. And I believe that if it weren’t for being a student here at Hornby High School, I would never have found my purpose and the path I was destined to be on. This is because, through all of the experiences, opportunities, and people I have met throughout the past 6 years, I have come to realise that in my life there is no greater fulfilment than helping others. And I believe that through my roles as a House Leader, Stars Peer Mentor, Student Representative on the Board of Trustees, a volunteer within our community and now as Head Student; I have found my purpose.
Now looking forward to the future, clearly, each of our journeys will be different. For myself in particular, compared to the majority of my peers, I do not plan to continue studying at university next year. Instead, I will be working in a part-time position at Star Media while also doing some voluntary work around the Hornby community - staying true to my passion for helping others. I feel very grateful to have had my family, friends, and teachers, all support me in this decision. While I have second-guessed myself at times and wanted to consider other options, I soon came to the realisation that in fact I made the right decision for me. And you know some people graduate university and start their careers at age 22, only to find themselves unhappy and starting over at 35. Others start working a minimum wage job at 18 but build their way up the company ladder and retire happily. So I think it is important for us all to remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to live our lives. There are no timelines or specific structures we need to follow. And we are never too late. Don’t dwell on what you should or could have done and don’t compare yourself to others and what they are or are not achieving in their lives, because as I have already mentioned, we are all on different journeys in life.
As this chapter of my life comes to an end, I would just like to finally thank my mum, whānau, friends, amazing teachers, and members of the wider Hornby community who have all supported me on my high school endeavour. It is because of you all, I now feel confident to close this chapter and begin the next, and I am beyond excited to see where my journey will take me. Hornby will always be a place I call home, so this is not goodbye, but I’ll see you soon.