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Our Boarding House holds a special place in the Wenona community, and it was great to hear it reverberating with laughter, as our boarders enjoyed their first ‘closed weekend’.
Here’s what our Boarding Prefect, Georgia had to say about settling back in to life at the House.
“On the first weekend of term, we welcomed the new members of our family. We kicked the closed weekend off with a trip down to North Sydney Pool to cool down and enjoy one of the best views around. Some Juniors were feeling a bit hungry after a competitive game of Marco Polo, and we thoroughly enjoyed fish and chips under the Harbour Bridge, even if Ms Ayling forgot the sauce!
One of our projects for 2020 is to create a boarding quilt, with each girl responsible for designing and creating a square. On Friday, we started the process with a pencil and paper. It is currently in the early stages and all the designs are unique and depict something special to the girls. Some are inspired by life at home, others represent inclusive friendships within boarding. Lucy sketched a well-known Vietnamese symbol, so if any future boarders come to Wenona from Vietnam, they may find comfort in knowing they are not alone.
After sport on Saturday we caught the train to Central and walked to the Capitol Theatre to see the School of Rock musical. We left in awe of the kids who had performed so well – so much so that Sophie (Year 12) had the soundtrack on repeat for a week! On the way back from the theatre, we tried to give the cast a run for their money, singing our way home. One thing’s for sure, we definitely won’t be starting a boarding choir any time soon!
On Sunday morning, after a hearty bacon and egg breakfast on the roof, we made our way to the dining room and put on some music with Jada as the DJ.
Each closed weekend we work with a charity, and for many girls it is their favourite part of the weekend. In previous years, we have volunteered with Labour of Love packing birth kits for women in Uganda and preparing fundraising material on their behalf. The book The School of Restoration by Alice Achan and Philippa Tyndale is a story of one Ugandan woman who has given hope to hundreds of female victims of war and violence through education and support. We pitched in by assembling bookmarks as a marketing tool for the upcoming book launch. In association with the book launch, we were interviewed and asked what education means to us, and our responses will be compared to those of girls our age in Uganda.
I couldn’t be prouder of the girls for the enthusiasm and positivity shown throughout the weekend, qualities I believe we embody and display throughout the year. The first week can be a very daunting experience but our new recruits have settled in nicely with many laughs being had late into the evening. But all in bed on time… mostly!!!”
Head of Boarding, Ms Nonie Ayling was equally delighted with the way the girls have settled in to the Boarding House so far.
“We have 46 boarders this year. The girls have come from as far and wide as Singapore and the Philippines, to Gulargambone and Narromine in rural New South Wales, to local girls from Kirribilli and Mosman. I’m proud of how quickly they’ve adapted to the rhythms and routines of the Boarding House, as well as life at Wenona more broadly. It’s also been lovely to see the warmth of the Boarding House community and the friendships, old and new, across the year groups.”
Unsurprisingly, food plays a central role in the Boarding House. So the girls were excited to meet Ms Larissa Kemp who has donned her chef whites to whip up delicious dishes for them this year.
“I started cooking 26 years ago and did most of my apprenticeship at the Powerhouse Museum. Since then, I’ve worked at the Olympic stadium, I was Head Chef at Trinity and I’ve run several large restaurants in both hotels and function centres. I also spent 10 years in Newcastle upon Tyne, where I worked on two cruise ships, the last one being the Queen Mary 2. I also ran a large leisure centre brasserie at Durham University. Upon returning to Australia, I worked in Mudgee for four years, running function centres and a large pub known for food. From there I moved back to Sydney where I stepped straight into the Sous Chef role at UNSW. Most of my background is in catering and functions, but I did work for a year as a pastry chef!”
The Boarding House has also welcomed a new Deputy Head of Boarding, with Mrs Claire Inchbold stepping in to the role to support Ms Ayling. Mrs Inchbold brings a broad range of experience in student services, educational administration and nursing, as well as holding qualifications in ICT and business. She also speaks French, having spent many years working with a municipal French exchange program. When she’s not at Wenona, Mrs Inchbold can be found sailing in a beautiful timber gaff-rigged yacht called Valiant. She’s thrilled to be part of the team and is looking forward to supporting the girls and their families.
Finally, let’s not forget Dottie, Ms Ayling’s labradoodle. She is thrilled to have lots of attention again and is more than happy to help our boarders overcome any homesickness by giving them lots of cuddles.
Welcome everyone. Here’s to another fantastic year in the Boarding House!