As our students look ahead to the next school year, we are proud of every Grade 11 student (our incoming Grade 12 class) who put their name forward for a formal leadership position. We are currently in the middle of election season, as our community members elect the School Prefects, the boarding Heads of Houses, and the students who will head school councils.

The Grade 11 students who put themselves forward with the hopes of serving the school community show a great deal of courage, and each does an excellent job representing themselves, their beliefs and their values.

While elections for many of the positions will be held next week, we are delighted to announce that Jonathan Nguyen and Devon Oneschuk were elected Head Prefects for the 2021-22 school year. We are excited to see these two great students and the rest of the Class of 2022 lead our Kindergarten to Grade 12 student body.

We sat down with Jonathan and Devon to get to know them and to find out what impact they hope to make at SMUS.

Why did you want to be a Head Prefect?

Devon – Choosing to run was a very personal and sentimental thing for me. Before I came to SMUS, school was kind of just a place, and I didn't have a really strong sense of connection or a feeling of belonging, but that totally changed when I came to SMUS. I have been so supported and uplifted and embraced here, and I've really found that sense of belonging. So I wanted to share that sense of belonging and give back to a community that is so special to me, and is very near and dear to my heart.

Jonathan – I feel really fortunate and grateful to have been able to come here in Grade 9. I think the school has changed me in many different ways: I've become a lot more mature as a person, and more confident around other people. I remember on my first day of classes I didn't know anyone, but the people around me just embraced me and helped me so much. The Head Prefects that year were [fellow boarding students] Ewan [Halliday] and Morgan [Warner]. I was in the same boarding house as Ewan, and he helped and inspired me in many different ways, so I want to give back to the community that has helped me grow.

What makes Devon Head Prefect material?

Jonathan –  Seeing how much of an impact Devon has made in the two years she has been here, with [directing] the musical and all of her service initiatives, I've been really impressed. I'm grateful for all the things she's done for this community. By just being herself as someone who wants to give back to her community is what makes Devon special and unique.

What makes Jonathan Head Prefect material?

Devon – Jonathan radiates so much positivity and energy; it's literally contagious being around him. Before I even met Jonathan, any time anyone would bring up his name you would hear, "Jonathan has the biggest heart and is just the nicest guy." And it's so true. His ability to spread kindness and good energy, which we so need right now, is what is going to make him so successful in this role.

What role do you see the Head Prefects and Prefect Council playing for the student body?

Jonathan – The Prefect Council has always been an indispensable part of the SMUS community, but it's not just about who we are, it's more the image that we stand for for the entire school. It's really important to model the way and lead by example, and we should be the main people to lead the changes next year.

Devon – [Current Head Prefect] Marina [Fabris] said something at the first assembly this year that resonated with me when she was describing the role of Head Prefect: "automatic friend." I think that is so perfect because I see the Head Prefects and the Prefect Council as people that others can lean on and who will always be willing and eager to listen and find solutions. It's about bridging connection, fostering a sense of unity, and being there for people when they need it. 

After an unusual year of COVID restrictions, what role do you hope to play in the community if some restrictions are lifted next school year?

Devon – I hope we can help build our sense of community back to normal. There are people at the school who have never been here without COVID restrictions, so I think our Number 1 priority is going to be fostering the signature SMUS school spirit and bringing that back through assemblies and events. I know from speaking with [current Head Prefects] Marina and McEnroe, they haven't been able to have as much of a connection with the Junior and Middle Schools as they would have hoped because of restrictions. I really want to pursue those connections and meet with the students, if we can, to help foster a sense of energy and excitement about what's to come. Our goal is to be role models, to offer encouragement and support, and to let students know that we're here for the whole community, Kindergarten to Grade 12, and we want to see them succeed.

What are you most looking forward to about being a Head Prefect?

Jonathan – The experience of working with Devon and everyone else on the Prefect Council is going to make next year very special. Having the chance to work with other students and teachers to be able to do great things for the school is something I'm really looking forward to. As Head Prefects, we'll have the opportunity to know more about how changes can be made in the community, so we will utilize that to our maximum potential and try to make as much change as possible.

Devon – I feel like we're at a very special point in the school's history right now, obviously because of the pandemic, but also because there's been so much growth despite everything this year. Mental health has been a really huge theme this year, and that's an area I hope we can focus on. There has also been a lot of work this year surrounding equity, inclusion and allyship, so I hope we can continue looking at how we can make this the best environment possible for other people. I'm looking forward to being part of facilitating positive growth and connecting more with this community on a different level. I'm excited to see what we're going to achieve next year because I know it's going to be amazing.