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Leadership Lessons

Amelie finds inspiration in the movie ‘Top Gun’ and shares the life lessons she’s gained during her tenure as Vice-Captain.

Like a lot of people, I was recently knocked out by the flu, which had an upside, in that my dad had me watch ‘Top Gun’ with him, a story that has since taken over my life.

‘Top Gun’ was inarguably the most exciting movie I’ve ever seen about a man deciding to become a teacher. Even though it had three features that I dislike (extreme heights, Tom Cruise and not one scene passed the Bechdel test*), I’ve become infatuated, and find myself singing ‘Take My Breath Away’ at random points throughout the day.

Long story short, everyone who knows me wants me to stop talking about ‘Top Gun’, so I’m going to talk about it one more time and then never again…

We are approaching the season of leadership, which is an exciting but nerve-racking time for a lot of people … and a big part of my story. I remember spending the long weekend before the leadership positions were announced, literally shaking in my boots, and chewing my parents’ ears off about my chances. The nervousness and fear of failing are very real, every time. But I’ve learned that the important thing to remember is those nerves are good because they mean you care and you have something to lose.

So … I’d like to you give some advice about things I’ve learned along my leadership journey at Wenona, which I feel are applicable, not only for School leadership but in everyday life. Brace for the final ‘Top Gun’ references…

  1. Take responsibility, but don’t try to do it all yourself. (Like in ‘Top Gun’, Maverick, who is reckless and driven, still needs to learn to trust and lean on others to succeed). In other words - stay humble folks. Being a leader is about being a part of a team first and foremost. No man is an island and taking on the full workload by yourself is a lonely path that I don’t recommend.
  2. It’s OK for things to end. (As seen in the new sequel ‘Top Gun Maverick’, Even Tom Cruise needs to acknowledge he’s getting older, even if he doesn’t want to). It is OK to move on and for your story to develop and change as you grow. In fact, it is honestly better at this stage to have several little chapters rather than one long volume that doesn’t reflect you anymore. I am definitely not saying to give up, but knowing when to let go makes you a stronger leader.
    I learned this as Palmer Drama Captain, which was a massive learning experience to say the least (sorry Mr Kelly). I’ve been doing Drama since Kindergarten and found that last year I was falling out of love with it. I took a pause to revaluate and focus on other things that challenged me positively and made me happy. Now I feel I can remember that period of my life fondly because I was brave enough to change the trajectory of my story at the right time.
  3. Finally, I’d like to highlight Ms Humphreys, who gave me the most memorable piece of advice that I received when I became Vice-Captain. “Two words: ROLE. MODEL.” Wenona students from Year 7 to Year 12, you are all role models. Leadership doesn’t start when you get a badge, and it doesn’t stop when you graduate from your role. It does not mean you can’t make mistakes, but it does mean that you owe those who are looking up to you, to put in your best effort, to continue to grow and become better.

OK, so that’s my unsolicited advice. I feel honoured that you have given me the opportunity to include the role of Vice-Captain as part of my story. I hope I have been able to give back to you, even if only through a laugh or a smile in the hallways. Year 11, good luck during this leadership season. It is a special experience and I encourage you to make the most of it. Like Maverick from ‘Top Gun’, choose to keep going, stay healthily reckless and always, always, pick yourselves off the floor, no matter the result of these leadership elections and beyond.

*The Bechdel Test is sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule and qualifies a film according to the following three criteria: (a) it must have at least two women in it, who (b) who talk to each other, about (c) something other than a man.


Amelie Bonney
Vice Captain