Her six years at ACG Parnell College have been “life-changing, character-developing, and memory-making” – and now, in her role as Head Prefect, Caragh Puttick is working tirelessly to ensure all students enjoy that same experience.
“Our school has so much to offer and the potential to change lives,” says Caragh. “It’s not enough for most people to be happy at school, join teams and clubs, get support when needed, and receive smiles in the corridors. I want everyone to have the best experience possible at ACG just like I have.”
Being chosen to spearhead the student leadership team has given Caragh a golden opportunity to do precisely that, and she’s determined to make the most of it.
“Head Prefect was a position that I’d always aspired to and been in awe of but frankly had never dreamed I would get. I vividly remember when I first came to ACG Parnell in Year 8, watching the Head Prefect give an end-of-year speech. She burst into tears halfway through, from a mixture of sadness to be leaving, gratefulness and pride at what she’d helped achieve. From that moment on, I strived to be an active part of the school community because I genuinely wanted to feel that I’d made a positive difference.”
Since joining ACG Parnell College, Caragh has been a member of the Middle School Council, a student leader, a Prefect and now, a Head Prefect. She believes these roles have not only taught her a great deal about teamwork, but they’ve filled her with a deep love for the school.
“Leadership gives the amazing opportunity to put into action the changes that are desired, to make your voice heard and to raise your eyes from the stress that academics and exams can bring. Furthermore, the leadership team fosters a strong sense of family - you all strive together to raise money, celebrate cultures and recognise talent. You learn invaluable skills like teamwork and organisation.
“It means so much to me to finally have the opportunity to give back to ACG everything I have received since I first arrived. This year we have an incredible and dedicated team of student leaders, and it’s a privilege to represent them and utilise all their abilities to affect change.”
As well as continuing with the excellent work of previous Head Prefects, Caragh aims to introduce more events, inspire more student involvement, foster cross-campus communication and strengthen relationships between different groups. It’s no small undertaking, especially when you consider the academic rigours of A-Level study and all her extracurricular activities. The highly motivated all-rounder represents ACG in the Senior A netball, volleyball and teams, is involved in debating, and is a board member of the Rotary Interact Club. In addition, she has played in the school's symphony and string orchestras for many years.
But these are just some of the responsibilities and opportunities that have helped create an unforgettable high school experience for the multi-talented teen.
“There have been so many personal highlights. The remarkable and truly inspiring teachers, my classmates I’ve grown up with and who’ve seen me at my best and worst. Then there's the successes, the sports and the music. But also the class reprimands, the free periods building card towers, the embarrassing moments and my failures.
“There have been days when it seems I’m as far from perfect as I could possibly get, but ACG has taught me and supported me through those times and helped me to always pick myself up – to laugh and to be enthusiastic at every turn has been the predominant message over the years.”
And it is precisely this enthusiasm that has seen Caragh stand out as a natural leader.
“Leadership is an interesting phenomenon in that it doesn’t necessarily require the leader to be the sportiest, most musical, or even most intelligent. Leaders simply need the ability to unite people and the willingness to attempt new things. Ultimately, enthusiasm trumps all else. Leaders should be the first to arrive and the last to leave.”
And just as the 2017 Head Prefect inspired Caragh all those years ago, she too hopes to do the same for all the future leaders coming up through the ranks at ACG Parnell College.
“Leadership doesn’t start when the badge is given, or the name is read out in assembly. It’s an attribute that takes time, sacrifice, hard work, energy and gratitude. A good leader is an ambassador, not a title to sit back and enjoy. So, yes, Head Prefect duties have consisted of running meetings and discussing ideas with teachers. But they’ve also consisted of running across the domain with a bucketful of milkshakes, cutting onions, standing on precariously stacked chairs and staying after school on a Friday to clean tables.
“Leadership takes humility, a willingness to listen and a recognition that the best place to be is not always at the front.”