Having ambition is what being part of the Head Girl team is all about. Reaching this point, candidates have already been under similar scrutiny to other recent leadership races…
Round One. Ding! An all-senior-school vote during Spring Term.
Round Two. Ding! All chosen candidates have to make a nerve-wracking presentation in Chapel to the Senior Management Team.
Round Three. Ding! A chat with Head Mrs MacGinty about their personal goals and ambitions.
Round Four. Ding! Head Girl and two Deputies announced shortly afterwards.
Together with Deputies, Sasha N and Pippa B, Alice is ready to embrace this step-up into adulthood: “It’s a great chance to shoulder more responsibility and have a bigger influence on the running of the School,” she says.
Being part of this elite team is a definite vote of faith in the girls’ abilities and character. Proceeding to be the very top of their chosen profession, Hollywood A-Lister Kate Winslett, PM Margaret Thatcher and TV Presenter Clare Balding have all been Head Girls.
“Kilgraston has taught me to grab all available opportunities,” says day-pupil Pippa, destined for Chemistry at Durham University. “Follow your heart; you never know where it will lead.” Certainly this is the case for Pippa. Until clapping eyes on the School’s purpose-built Science Centre, she had little interest in the subject: “Immediately, I just loved the building, the space, the learning environment; I suddenly felt a real connection.”
Pippa’s drive and commitment hasn’t just led her to the Bunsen burners. An accomplished pianist and fiddle player, this summer saw her complete a ‘Headstart’ electrical engineering course at the University of York together with her RYA Level Two course on Scotland’s beautiful west coast. “For me, one of life’s biggest lessons is not giving up; if you have a goal, be determined.”
Summertime was also a busy period for Alice. Hoping to head to the University of Glasgow to study Veterinary Medicine, she put the holiday period to good use spending a fortnight at a small animal practice, gaining invaluable front-line career experience. In addition to this spell, she helped run a Safari School at Blair Drummond Safari Park and a further week attending a RZSS course at Edinburgh Zoo: “I’ve now dealt with everything from elephants to family dogs,” she grins, clearly relishing the challenge.
Asked about her seven years at Kilgraston, Alice highlights the many opportunities that have had an influence on her educational journey: “Last year I had a go at writing a play, Summertime Crime. This was really out of my comfort zone but Head of Drama Mrs Murphy loved it, putting it on as the senior play (including me!) at the end of last term.”
Achieving her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award was also a steep trajectory: “Learning to both lead and work as part of a team are valuable lessons,” Alice continued, “Part of being Head Girl is making sure the wishes of management – for instance, the mobile phone ban during school days – are followed-through among the girls. Learning to mediate is really important.”
Working in a team is a lesson with which Deputy Head Sasha N is also familiar. As a boarder for five years, she is used to the “family atmosphere in the boarding house” and is looking forward to the added responsibility of this year: “Determination has been instilled in me here,” she says, “Being given this role is quite a responsibility – one that I’m very proud to have achieved. I’m looking forward to being an ambassador for Kilgraston.”
Indeed, Sasha knows all about determination and responsibility, regularly riding in top-level British Eventing 100 competitions throughout Scotland and the north of England: “Always a great challenge,” she quietly comments, underplaying the enormity of thundering around an unknown jumping course on the back of a spirited horse!
Bringing that clear-headed judgement to her new role is all part of the mix needed for the top team. “Throughout the year, girls from aged five and up will approach us for assistance and guidance, looking for decisions and answers. Being a good role model and one that makes a difference to their life is something I’m really looking forward to achieving.”
It’s obvious that the three girls can’t wait to get their teeth into this final year and all the challenges that it will hold. But what of the sadness of finally leaving Kilgraston? “I can’t wait for this year,” says Pippa, “but I’m worried it’s going to pass too quickly and suddenly it will be everyone waving goodbye to us.”
Sasha realises too that this is a very special period of her life: “I will miss the atmosphere of the Chapel and the singing together, the sense of collective. Oh, I can’t even bear to think of it!”
And Head Girl Alice, how does she feel about life’s next chapter? “I arrived just as the Science Centre was opening. Suddenly there was a whole new world to explore. I hope I can make the most of every moment of this year before I go on to explore the next stage of my journey.”