Hi everyone, my name is Kaia Tupu-South and I am the Head Prefect at Westlake Girls High School – a school that has gifted me so many opportunities from day one and embraced me with open arms. I’ve been surrounded by a network of support, and being half Samoan I’ve also been offered access to extra opportunities such as a mentorship programme, extra academic support through a homework club where teachers can be called in depending on your area of need, PILOT (Pacific Leaders of tomorrow) development days and many Pasifika evenings and events.
I started Year 9 with a baggy jumper and a mission to find myself, but also to find others who I could rely on and reciprocally they could gain support from me. The best place I could find this, apart from in the classroom was in the clubs and cultural group side of Westlake where the true beauty lies. The fact is we must go to classes, but many of us choose to spend our lunchtimes immersed in a number of different cultural activities each week, whether it be tasting native food, 40hr famine fundraisers, knitting or celebrating cultural traditions. We support each other instinctively through the culture Westlake has raised within us.
My friend group, like most, has changed significantly as I’ve grown and evolved throughout the years. At the end of the day we choose who we want to spend our time with based on our interests, our connections, and our personalities – not based on our differences, our race, or our position on the diversity spectrum. I understand it can be difficult to make over 2,300 students of more than 50 cultures feel important and valued, but I truly believe Westlake does a great job at achieving this almost impossible task.
There is a strong community here. Our school isn’t just diverse, I believe it is inclusive and embracing of all cultures. Sometimes setbacks and mistakes can make us lose sight of, or forget all the wonderful things Westlake has given to us – friendships, guidance, and opportunity – but most of all encouragement to succeed in whatever we put our minds to.
So let’s rally together to continue to make Westlake the best lake it can be!