While COVID-19 has meant James Nethersole’s School Captain experience has been very different to most, the Ardmona local has taken the year and its challenges in his stride.
With his two sisters Sarah, Class of 2015, and Ellie, Class of 2018, awarded Prefect positions in their year levels, it was no surprise the talented footballer and budding businessman followed in their footsteps.
However, he admits the School Captain title was one he never expected to land.
“I was definitely very surprised when it happened, a bit nervous as well but a fair bit of excitement,” James said.
“My sisters were both Prefects so I thought if they can do it I can do it.”
James joined GVGS in Year 7 after attending St Mary’s Primary School in Mooroopna.
While his education was always top priority, James also ensured he found time for his love of sport, competing in many interschool competitions along with playing football and tennis in his spare time.
“I played in the interschool competitions from Year 8 … I love my sport I played footy for Mooroopna and tennis for Shepparton Lawn,” he said.
“I definitely spend a fair bit of time playing sport, I really enjoy it.”
Being assigned the role of School Captain in late 2019, James said he knew positive mental health would be a focus for him during his time in the role.
Teaming up with Nell Ryan the pair decided to focus their efforts on improving the mental health of their cohort, something which James admits was not always discussed.
“We have tried to focus on mental health this year, we decided that at the start which became more important with COVID-19 and everyone being very isolated,” he said.
“We started a few initiatives and we have tried to keep some sort of engagement … we have also sent out a few letters from Nell and I reminding everyone of the importance of looking after yourself, staying connected and checking in on each other.
“Coming from a country area mental health is not necessarily at the front of everyone’s minds so I think continuing to raise awareness of it and making it a part of everyday life is important.”
While previous School Captains have had many roles to play during popular event days and school competitions, James admitted it was disappointing he and Nell missed out on most of these due to COVID-19.
Despite the difficulties, James ensured he made the best out of every opportunity, including many virtual assemblies to engage with other students online.
James’ VCE subjects are English, Maths Methods, Accounting, Economics, and Industry and Enterprise.
While he said he is unsure what the future holds, he is hoping his love of business and relevant subject choices will help inspire a career he enjoys.
“I’m hoping to do Commerce next year at university, but after that, I’m not all that sure – I know I like all the business subjects so something broad will hopefully let me figure out what I enjoy most and decide from there,” James said.
He also plans to fit in some more travelling once he has finished school, with the 2018 GVGS Italy trip inspiring him to see more of the world.
“I went on the Italy trip in Year 10, it was amazing. Two weeks of travelling around Italy it doesn’t get much better than that all while eating some of the best food going around,” James said.
“Hopefully I will find some time after COVID-19 to travel the world and see all the sights.”
Looking back over his time at GVGS James said he would miss the people the most.
Describing the school’s culture as welcoming and kind, he believes the students and teachers were what made his time at the school so memorable.
He said the opportunities offered at the school along with the warm sense of community were things that made GVGS stand out.
“In general I think how nice people are, it’s a really welcoming community and something that is not probably so common in other schools,” James said.
“I will always remember the people, and the teachers they have been amazing really especially in Year 12 and during these COVID-19 times.”
When asked what his advice would be for the 2021 School Captains, James said he would encourage them to remain positive and focused on their mental wellbeing.
Having learnt the year goes faster than most, James said he would also tell them to be present and take any opportunity that comes their way.
“Hopefully it is not the same as this year with COVID-19. I’d say just make it your own, and have fun,” James said.
“Practice what you’re doing, do your best and be true to who you are.”