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Ask a group of Wenona boarders what it is they love about living and studying at the North Sydney school and their answers are varied, but for one thing – close friendships and a sense of belonging.
A group of 50 students call Wenona home throughout the school term, travelling internationally and locally to be part of the School’s community of boarders.
International students travel from countries including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK, while others travel up to 500 kilometres from their rural NSW homes in Gulargambone, Bombala and other towns, or even further interstate.
Year 12 students Lily, Rosie, and Lillian say there are many advantages to boarding, and home comforts too.
The boarding house is visited regularly by staff pets including a Jack Russel terrier and much loved cats Sophie and Elsie. The 2016 group of Year 12 boarders left their peers with a pet fish as a parting gift, named Cinq – ‘five’ in French – because there were five of them.
Lily, from Scone, joined the school in Year 10 and said one of the best things about boarding was having friends around all the time.
“It’s easy to have a chat with anyone, and being able to live with other people before you get into a university setting or have to leave home is an advantage,” she said.
Rosie, from Bombala, said she also had developed close friendships with the other students she lives with.
“You make friends with so many people who are outside of your day girl friendship group or who you wouldn’t usually make friends with,” she said.
“We have each other to ask for help. Everyone in the boarding house has their strengths and we use them to our advantage. Also, it’s very convenient living at the school. The library is right next to the boarding house.”
Boarders have access to the library until 9pm on school days and on weekends, when students relax, watch movies and study, and outings are organised for those in younger years. Activities have included rock climbing, laser tag, visits to the Kirribilli Markets and joining the Wenona Walkers, the school team organised by the Wenona Parents’ Association, to take part in this year’s Mother’s Day Classic to raise funds for breast cancer research.
Lillian, from nearby Northbridge also appreciates the routine of boarding and the friendships that are like a sisterly bond.
“It really helps with your studies to have a set routine and supervisor making sure you are on task,” she said. “It’s good in junior years to form those skills and then in senior years execute them for the HSC. Because you are gaining so much independence, and with it more responsibility, it sets you up for life after school.
“The friendships you form are more special in a sense because that bond is formed through spending so much time together. You know that person so well – strengths, weaknesses, everything.”
Established in 1886, Wenona is a non-denominational school for girls which aims to inspire graduates to become ‘Renaissance women’ who are creative, resilient, articulate and well-educated, filled with a sense of humour and a capacity for adventure.
National Boarding Week is on May 14 to 20.