Late in 2022 I mentioned to one of our Year 12 students that I would love to hear her perspective on what made Perth College a great school for her. Below is her reflection which she sent me last week and I have the pleasure of sharing with you today (as written by Sophie).

Reflection – Sophie Boswell (Class of 2022)

When Mrs Aguiar enquired about whether I would like to write a reflection on my years at PC, I jumped at the opportunity. I am proud of my journey and who PC helped shape me to become. My ultimate takeaway from PC though is that it has the ability to be whatever YOU need it to be. I came into PC knowing what I wanted out of it so I worked hard until I got there. If you put in the work, you will be rewarded with more than you can imagine as well as a community that will stay with you for life.

My Perth College journey started with the trending social movement of a ‘butterfly effect’. Defined as a seemingly unmeaningful event that ultimately changes a meaningful part of your life, mine started in 2013 when my mum brought me along to a Perth College friendship fires presentation by InsideOut. I vividly remember walking through the main gates and Mum squeezing my hand and saying ‘I so wish we could send you here’.

Fast forward through 2 years of home-schooling while travelling then 4 years in a public country school, I became your classic big fish in a small pond with my year 10 graduating class only having 35 kids. Throughout year nine, my year coordinator brought me in for a meeting and suggested that I would benefit into looking into Perth boarding schools that would quench my thirst for the performing arts and academic goals for my final years of schooling. So, I did.

Perth College immediately felt like home. Everyone in the PC community was so welcoming and all the students and staff went out of their way to make me feel included within it. For example, when the enrolments lady, Judy Parker, found out that I was a complete and utter musical theatre nerd, she organised for me to be accompanied to their annual musical by a current student. Ultimately, after having the tour and being offered a place, I knew that PC was going to be the place for me.

Thus started the process of applications for scholarships. I remember spending hours and hours hunched over applications for seven different scholarships and bursaries. I poured my heart and soul into them and spent my entire 2019/2020 summer holidays working through each and every question – so desperate to get the answers just right.

After the submission of those applications life went back to normal for a bit. But 2020 brought with it a lot of challenges as we all know and for me, a lot of those struggles happened within my life and family. I started to struggle severely with my mental health.

When I received the offer of the Margaret & Patricia Feilman Inside Out Scholarship in 2020, I was sitting in a hospital bed at one of the lowest places I had ever been. But the scholarship gave me hope and while it was a heavily daunting thing to decide at that time in my life, I realised I had a decision to make. I could either continue down this path, struggling to stay afloat, or I could seize this opportunity and have a fresh start at a school I had set my sights on for so long.

I chose the fresh start and I can honestly say that PC absolutely changed my life for the better. I threw myself into student life throughout my two years there participating in IGGSA Sport and Rowing, Mock Trials, Music Lessons, Choirs, assisting in the Junior School and basically anything to do with the Performing Arts! I found a family at PC that I never would have found if I hadn’t made that decision.

While PC is known for its academic results and facilities, it wasn’t those things that made it home for me. It was the fact that I was constantly surrounded by people encouraging me and reminders that academics didn’t define you. I found myself, for the first time in my life, putting my actual life over my academics. While I still studied hard, I actually enjoyed my life as a senior school student. I was going to shows, having social nights with friends, volunteering with charities and spending my time on things that fulfilled me as a person – not just as a student. A difficult thing for someone who spent the last 4 years of her life being a perfectionist to achieve academic validation.

Looking back, I realise actually how many opportunities PC provided me with not only co-curricular but extracurricular as well. I was able to represent PC as an ATAR Drama student at a Black Swan Theatre Company Work Intensive thanks to Samanda Sankowsky and the Drama department, I was asked to present to Year 9s about the importance about reaching out for help for you and your friends, something very close to my heart, and, at a later date, lead a discussion on courage and courageous decisions thanks to Emily Lockhart and the InsideOut team. I was also invited to speak on a panel at a Perth College Foundation Event with other scholarship recipients to communicate just how impactful these scholarships are on young students.

I was given the opportunity to fight for the chance to be a leader of the school, specifically, a Drama Captain. I cannot express how much this role gave and taught me throughout Year 12. I was able to grow myself in ways I never thought possible and the feeling of being someone that the younger students look up to is unbelievably rewarding. I took the mentorship part of my role extremely seriously and was always overjoyed and went above and beyond when I got asked for assistance with audition prep or advice about something.

PC also provided me with so many networking opportunities through not only the Old Girls Association but with contracted staff for presentations, prac-students and mentoring opportunities. As a hopeful professional musical theatre performer, some of my highlights were having Peter Cumins complete his final prac for his Masters in our Yr 12 ATAR Drama Class and also being able to gain his assistance in upcoming auditions. Another was having Elaina O’Connor come in to judge PC’s very own ‘The Voice’ Competition and being able to chat with her about tips and tricks within the industry. Opportunities like these were frequent and very accessible.

I have to say, when thinking about my favourite thing about PC - it was definitely the staff. The teachers I had throughout my two years always went above and beyond to help me even replying to emails on weekends or coming in to open up a space for rehearsing for my ATAR Drama Exam in the holidays. I learnt very quickly that the more effort that you put in, the more you got in return. I truly believe that the reason I grew so much was because of the staff.

Being a boarder, you also tend to start looking around you for role models because you see your family little and I can truly say that I had no problem finding these in the staff at PC. The empathy, initiative and ability to inspire and encourage truly makes such a world of difference. There was always someone I could go to if I needed a chat, words of encouragement or even a little ‘overwhelmed cry’ (these became more frequent during the last weeks of year 12!😊) I always felt supported, safe and understood.

PC honestly changed my life for the better and I truly hope that one day I will be in a position to give the same opportunity to a young person.

I have been so very lucky that PC came at just the right time for me and I am so proud to be a part of the acclaimed OGA!

I will always continue to be a part of the PC community and give back in any way I can as it did so much for me.

Once a PC girl, always a PC girl!

Sophie Boswell (2022 Graduate)

I feel that Sophie has captured what made Perth College a wonderful School for her and her reflection tells us so much about the positive impact of a great schooling experience.