Happy Days is an EU pilot project aimed at promoting positive mental health in our second level schools. On Friday I spent the morning visiting two schools in Navan, Beaufort College and Colaiste Na Mi to learn about the initiative and to see how the concept is being applied. In Beaufort college a young student gave a welcoming address and told me about the schools leadership programme. I was hugely impressed with the speech and his delivery. Here’s the speech in full:
How ‘The Prefect System’ Changed My Life
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, teachers, fellow prefects, prefect committee, I’m pleased to welcome Ms Mairead McGuinness, member of Fine Gael and the European Parliament for the East constituency. We are truly honoured to have you (Ms McGuinness) here today in our school.
Here in Beaufort College, the prefect system is about giving students the opportunity to become more involved in the school community; to take part in the running and organizing of the school alongside the teachers. The prefect system gives students an opportunity to reveal their talents and put them to use. Moreover, it demonstrates that students and teachers working side by side can create a powerful positive learning environment which works for all.
When I heard my name called out during the announcement of the new members of the prefect community I was ecstatic, delighted and proud. However little was I aware of the many responsibilities and duties that I would have to carry as a prefect. I‚Äôll be honest, I was very anxious during my first few weeks as a prefect. One of the most apprehensive moments of my life as a prefect was when I was appointed as a guide during the school open night. As a guide I would have to welcome parents and show them around the school, at first it seemed nerve wrecking considering that despite being in the school for 3 years I still had no clue where any of the classrooms were. However on the night I ran laps around the school before the parents arrived and regained my familiarity of the building. Thankfully the night was a success. Following that night I found that I started to gain more confidence in my abilities, being a prefect has had an impact on me as a person. Events such as parent teacher meetings and open nights has allowed me to be more assertive and given me the courage to take on new experiences. Prefects here in Beaufort develop the ability to become innovative and critical thinkers.
Being a prefect has given us leadership attributes, integrity, communication, punctuality, co-operation and charisma. These are all the skills that the prefect system has equipped us with which I know will tremendously assist us when faced with the adult world.
Not only has being a prefect changed the lives of us senior students, being a prefect has had an impact on the teachers, junior students and our community in general. Being a prefect here at Beaufort College makes us ideal role models to the junior students who look up to us, we help paint a portrait of how students should behave towards one another and co-operate with teachers. We are often seen by much younger students as a medium for communication with teachers. Some of our other duties as prefects include moderating the school canteen, the queue for lunch and the hallway to ensure that students are behaving in a dignified manner. We also help with school festivities which takes the pressure off the backs of the teachers.
Beaufort College ensures that prefects are trained well in dealing with students and handling tough situations. Our most recent training session which was promoted by the NBSS(National Behavioural Support Service) showed prefects the qualities of effective teenagers. Each of us were presented with the novel ‚ÄėThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers‚Äô by Sean Covey. In short the prefects are qualified to deal with the more complicated matters of the school which goes to display that the teacher‚Äôs trust are not misplaced.
As a prefect we are given limited authority over students of our school, our job is to assist the students and help maintain order, we wear red ties to stand out of the crowd so members of the teaching staff and school can identify us if they are in need of help. As school prefects we are also recognized by the locals in our community, even outside of school we are expected to represent the best of Beaufort. The red tie is not just for show, it‚Äôs to let the students and our community know that we have gained the trust of teachers and that we have responsibilities to carry out.
Along with our many responsibilities as prefects we are also expected by the prefect committee to fulfil our roles as students, meaning that we must complete all our homework, come to school on time and have near perfect attendance. As you can see being a prefect definitely isn‚Äôt an easy job yet it definitely is worthwhile. Having a prefect system here in Beaufort means that the teachers are willing to co-operate and trust the students, which gives us great pride in our school and something to brag about.
Beaufort College‚Äôs Prefect System gives students a life changing opportunity to boost their self-esteem and boldness. It gives the teachers a helping hand; it gives the students a counsellor to talk to if needed and leaves a positive impression on the community. It gives the school a practical and safe learning environment.