From her home in Papua New Guinea, on the small island of Lihir, Somerville House Year 12 student and Boarding Captain, Thyra Tavil, recently addressed her boarding community via live stream.

Thyra encouraged her Somerville sisters to stay united, even though they were not living together. She said, “I love that we are a family and do everything together. When we pray, we pray together. If we achieve something great in school or sport, we celebrate together, and if suddenly there’s a pandemic and we have to move to remote learning, we get through it together. We’re the best team!”

At the commencement of Term 2, the boarding routines of Monday Mindset, Tuesday Check-In, Mid-Week moves programs and Word of the Week were delivered online via the [email protected] academic program. This provided a sense of routine and stability for boarding students who found themselves far from their friends and families.

“Thyra’s particular leadership style, which is one of the finest examples of servant leadership I have seen in a student, implicitly models the qualities of strength and resilience which are the cornerstones of boarding life,” said Mrs Frances Greene, Head of Boarding at Somerville House.

Deputy Head of Boarding, Mrs Kathryn Emtage, concurs that these are the exact qualities which have helped the School’s boarding community navigate the challenges of 2020. “Thyra inspires our girls by enthusing them to fulfil their boarding expectations in a positive and timely manner, island-time that is,” Mrs Emtage said.

Reflecting upon the year that has been, Thyra has rallied her peers and reminded them of the journey ahead. “The girls and I are looking forward to returning to Somerville House in Term 3,” Thyra said. “I can’t wait to enjoy some of our favourite activities as a boarding group – climbing Mt Coot-tha, roller skating at South Bank, to name a few,” she said.

The 2020 school year has been one of evolving change given the impact of COVID-19. With many boarders forced to return to their homes and others remaining distant from their families for longer than normal, the School has utilised several online platforms to support the students’ learning and enable the girls to stay connected with family and friends.

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