Supportive, focused and fun: Wenona borders share a love of school

STUDENTS (from left) Paige Sedgwick (year 10), Amber MacPherson (year 8) and Annelise Watkins (year 7) with head of boarding Nonie Ayling.

STUDENTS (from left) Paige Sedgwick (year 10), Amber MacPherson (year 8) and Annelise Watkins (year 7) with head of boarding Nonie Ayling.

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Wenona boarders love being part of a small boarding community that encourages interaction between year groups and strong bonds between girls of all ages.

Established in 1886, Wenona provides boarding for 50 students from years 7 to 12 and offers scholarships to encourage girls to attend Wenona from rural, regional or remote backgrounds.

Wenona 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.

Year 8 student Amber MacPherson from Walcha especially values the close relationships she has formed as a member of Wenona’s boarding community.

“Boarding is a wonderful experience,” she said. “You get to have a sleepover every night! I enjoy it when the older girls come in to say goodnight to us.”

Like her friends, she also loves living in Sydney.

“I like attending a Sydney school because it gives me so many more opportunities than I would originally have at a school at home,” said Ellie Peart, a year 8 student from Gulargambone.

“This helps us all to learn how to interact with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences.”

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Paige Sedgwick, from Cootamundra, commenced year 10 this year and values the diversity of the girls she has met. “There is always someone to talk to about so many different things; people who may be amazing athletes or brilliant mathematicians,” she said.

Paige said having so many activities to take part in was a great way to beat homesickness. “I find that that I am always participating in something. When it comes to night-time, I always have something exciting to tell my parents and am exhausted so I get straight to bed.”

Wenona has helped Paige and other boarders grow their independence as they learn to live away from home.

Year 7 student Charlotte Walton knows that living away from home involves learning new skills like washing clothes, how to use public transport safely and how to manage time. She said there were great benefits to supervised study and homework help.

“The way we study helps me to be more productive than I would be at home where there are more distractions,” Charlotte said.

Wenona’s location offers a range of opportunities for all girls to expand their horizons. With all the advantages of being right on site for academic assistance, sport training and co-curricular activities, boarding also offers fun activities.

These include excursions to nearby Luna Park, walks across Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Rocks, the Opera House, Darling Harbour, and ferry trips to Manly for shopping and fish and chips on the beach.

The development of self-worth and personal identity are key functions of adolescence, and the boarding experience is ideally placed to help promote this by encouraging self-responsibility and independence within a supportive environment. Parents are the central relationship, even when geographically separated from their daughter. Supportive boarding staff understand that it is important that the parents and boarding house forge strong connections and effective communication.

Wenona’s head of boarding, Nonie Ayling, acknowledges the important role she and her boarding team have in sharing the lives of the girls in the Boarding House.

“I am very privileged to be working alongside the wonderful Wenona boarders as they embrace the many joys, opportunities, and the occasional challenges that boarding brings,” Mrs Ayling said.

“All boarders are encouraged to be the best they can be and engage in the wonderful co-curricular and extra-curricular activities which are on offer.  Boarding staff are an integral part of the Boarding House and ensure that the boarders are safe, cared for, motivated and valued.”

And what would the girls tell anyone who is thinking about sending their daughter to Wenona to board?

Paige: “Go for it! It was the best decision I ever made, the amount of opportunities available to me are endless and I would never have had this at home. I know now that I can reach my full potential in all areas of my life with the support available to me through Wenona.”

Ellie: “I LOVE boarding and would recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is a great opportunity to be exposed to different people with different backgrounds and boarding school gives us boarders a head start for when we leave home because we have all done it before.”

Charlotte, Annelise and Tilly: “We would tell someone coming to Wenona that boarding is great fun and you get to meet so many amazing girls. There are so many different opportunities here, like trying a different sport that you have never done before or achieving things that are important to you. We enjoy every day.”

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