NOWRA High School year 9 student Finn Wilson is relishing every schoolkid’s fantasy – being principal for a day.
He took over control of his school as part of the Student Principal for a Day national program run by the Australian Principals Institute.
“Ms [Nowra High principal Angela] Byron came to the Student Representative Council and asked if anyone would like to be principal for the day. I shot my hand up, it was voted on and I was selected,” he said.
It wasn’t an easy day – he had to organise an evacuation drill, deal with a disgruntled neighbour over parking issues and try to wade through a mountain of requests for everything from letting students go home early, a free canteen and recess that lasts all day long.
He even had a few requests for pay rises.
“It was a busy day – I don’t think I would like to be principal every day,” he said.
“I now have a much better understanding of what Ms Byron has to deal with every day.
“This opportunity has helped me with leadership skills and management.
“I think it was a great way to learn that being a principal perhaps is not my cup of tea. I think I will pursue a career in the law.”
Ms Byron praised Finn’s performance, saying he had done “a great job”.
“He had lots to do and he took the challenge very seriously,” she said.
“He was enthusiastic and very visible within the school.
“He was out in the playground, talking to students as I do, and talking to lots of students and teachers about issues they may have.
“Finn made the decision to evacuate with the information he was provided with. He was told a gas leak in one of the school’s blocks had resulted in a small fire.
“It was his call, he had to decide quickly with the information he had.
“It was a brave decision and the right one. Evacuating the school is always a big call to make.
“I think the program is a great idea and gives students an idea of what I deal with on a day-to-day basis, from high-level leadership issues right down to making sure the cleaners are doing their jobs.”
Finn had a call from a nearby resident about cars parking over his driveway, which he believed to be year 12 students from the school.
“I spoke the gentleman, got all the details and said we would put a request in all roll calls that students not park over driveways in the street,” he said.
“If the incidents continued I encouraged him to contact us again and we would get licence plates and try and determine who the owners of the offending vehicles were and if they came from our school.”
He said it was strange to be referred to as “Mr Wilson” and “Sir”, which a number of the students and staff did.
Walking the playground with Ms Byron he asked students about issues they had. He also took two year 7 students on a tour of the school grounds, finding out how they were managing and if there were any suggestions on how to make navigating the school easier.
“I got a couple of good ideas and I will take them back to the SRC and see if we can do something about it,” he said.
He resisted many requests, including one to open the gates and let everyone go home early.