After one year at Woodford House, gap students Monique Collins and Lea Ormeloh will be travelling back to their respective homes in Canada and Germany at the end of Term 2. Both students have thoroughly enjoyed their time with us and will be greatly missed by students and staff alike. Monique and Lea talked about their experience at assembly on Tuesday 25 June 2019.
“When I first found out that I was placed at Woodford House, I checked the website straight away. I instantly saw a picture of Mrs Peterson, looking perfect as always, alongside girls wearing the old uniform. I have to admit, it really did look like something out of Anne of Green Gables, especially with the long skirts, panama hats and two braids down the side. I remember feeling so scared thinking, ‘oh boy, I’m heading into the early 1900’s… What am I doing?’
I didn’t quite know what to expect at Woodford House. I came from a fully public, co-ed high school, where there were little to no rules, and my uniform consisted of sweatpants and a sweatshirt every day. Twenty days after leaving high school, 17 years old, and 5 foot 3, I arrived at Woodford House and suddenly became a member of staff, and wasn’t a student anymore, which was pretty weird.
Over the year, students have asked me several questions about Canada, so I thought I’d quickly answer a couple of them before I go. Donald Trump is not my president, No I don’t live in an igloo, although I think it would be pretty cool to live in one, Canada is not a country in Africa or Europe, and Olivia Eames, Canadian is not an official language.
Throughout the year, I eventually came to the realisation that this school actually didn’t turn out to be stuck in the early 20th century, it turned out to be one of the greatest and most beautiful schools I’ve ever encountered.
I’ve learned a lot of new things over the course of the year, such as how to do laundry, how to sound like I know what I’m talking about, and how to bring up milk to the staff room. But, above all, the most important thing I’ve learned throughout my year here, that I am determined to take with me into the future is respect. If you were to tell me a year ago that the most important thing I would learn in New Zealand is respect, I probably would’ve laughed, as I never really thought too much about the concept before. But I’ve learned that no matter what you do or who you are, respect is still important. So, treat others as you wish to be treated and always remember that pleases’ and thank you’s actually do go a long way.
I sure will miss this place a lot and the people I’ve met. Thank you to everyone for making this my best year yet, I’ll never forget it.”
Monique Collins, Woodford House Gap Student 2018 – 2019
“Woodford House. Home to Excellence.
That is all I knew before I got here, one of the top boarding school in New Zealand, I read.
How do I prepare for one of the top schools of a country, I wondered.
So I told myself, let me think of the only other top boarding school, I know of.
What do students require there, what can I learn from them, I wondered.
Not much actually, as it turns out, not much.
Neither would Mr Bott let me have a cat, toad or owl in the boarding house, nor would the rules of Quidditch bring me any further.
Instead, I had to learn the rules of netball and rugby.
Let’s embrace the change, let me dive into culture, let me ignore my parents for a year and let me take a risk at the far side of the world.
And please let me assure you, I tried. I watched the rugby… live, I jumped off bridges… multiple times, I climbed up mountains… actually that is wrong, just a mountain, but you can ask Monique all about that story. I even threw myself out of an airplane. But at some point I had to reach my limit.
I met my own, and very personal culture shock on top of a cracker.
Its name you wonder? A thick layer of Marmite…
It was moments like this, when I started questioning. Who am I? How does this make any sense? What even am I doing here?
And it was you, who reminded me.
Every morning I go down to the Dame, I switch on my computer and I open my emails. But I am not hoping to hear great news from Schoology, what I am hoping for, is to hear the music you make.
In moments like that, it is the honest question of one of you: Hey Lea, how are you? That makes me feel fine again.
I come from a society where the only thing that matters at school, is the number you get in your academics.
People don’t tend to care, whether or not you’re good at drama or design, or even how you are.
Here people do. They care, they encourage you to take drama and design, to play sports, to build character and to pursue your dreams.
I realise now, and I hope you do too, that here, teachers don’t teach subjects, but students.
So it is bittersweet for me, for us really, to leave now.
We had the luck of meeting all of you. Among the many people we met; teachers, students, custodians, kitchen, admin, communications, performing arts and sports teams, we had the luck to find friends.
I came to New Zealand as a Ravenclaw, but I will leave Woodford House as a Wallingford.
Woodford House, at the far side of the world. Home to Excellence. But home.
And that just leaves one thing to say:
Wherever the road after school may take you, be brave and bold. Make mistakes and take that step.
Now is the acceptable time.
Lea Ormeloh, Woodford House Gap Student 2018 – 2019
And in true Woodford House spirit, we’d like to leave you with a quote, and it happens to be from a woman whom we’ve learned a lot from this year, Principal, Mrs Julie Peterson.
“Create your place in this world. Be brave. Never look for excuses as you author your own story.”