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Pride and passion – Yeshiva head girl leads the pack

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Yeshiva College Girls High School’s head girl for 2022, Liat Lew, collected multiple distinctions in matric last year, and was an all-round achiever throughout her school career, but none of these accomplishments define success for her.

She prefers to use Winston Churchill’s definition of what counts. The former United Kingdom prime minister once said, “Success isn’t final; failure isn’t fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts.”

Lew says having the courage to overcome academic challenges, such as understanding a maths section she was struggling with, helped her to develop confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

She juggled being head girl with studying, participating in extracurricular activities, volunteering at vaccination sites, and being a maddie for Bnei Akiva. She says what helped her was Aristotle’s philosophy of the Golden Mean. “This philosophy says that a balance lies between two extremes. I found this extremely useful in achieving leadership success as well as the other responsibilities in my life.

“I learnt that it’s important to ask for help when needed. It always helped me get back on track. By maintaining balance and working with a team, I was able to juggle what was important to me.”

Lew says her team shared a passion for infusing Yeshiva College with pride, spirit, and unity. As head girl, she led Yeshiva College’s six committees, and was responsible for being a role model to students in the younger grades in terms of morals, modesty, and respect. “The head girl must be a leader, inspirer, visionary, and motivator,” she says.

Lew and the school’s deputy head, Ariella Friedland, introduced two events to fulfil these goals. “First, we organised inter-grade bonding activities as a way to strengthen friendships between the different grades. Second, together with YID [the Yeshiva Informal Department], we introduced fun prizes and treats as an incentive for the extra Torah learning programme. We wanted to instil a love for learning into the girls. Soon enough, the beit midrash was overflowing with girls from all different grades learning together.

“Our leadership style encouraged pride. We wanted to make the committees something the girls were excited about. So, instead of bringing in a speaker every week for assembly, we found creative ways to present the ideology of the committees to the rest of the school. For example, the sports, arts and culture assembly became a talent show for the girls to showcase their abilities.”

After learning remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown, they returned to a classroom environment in 2022.

“Though remote learning helped many to continue their education, the changes brought about by the pandemic also presented disruptions to the traditional school experience. We were lucky to experience the return of some of the best parts of school,” she says.

Yeshiva College teachers still post assignments, educational material, and grades on Google Classroom.

“Most Saturday nights our English teacher, Mr Tennant, would facilitate a Zoom class. He would either revise a past paper, show us a recording of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, or give us an extra lesson on critical literacy,” Lew says.

“Our teachers used the skills they learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic to go over and above to prepare us for our final exams. Instead of seeing 2020 only in a negative light, Yeshiva College took the positive aspects of a dark time and used them to improve education.”

Lew will be taking part in Bnei Akiva’s Midreshet Torah Va’Avodah programme in 2023. “I’ll study at the Harova seminary situated in the Old City of Jerusalem. I look forward to broadening my knowledge of Jewish Studies and deepening my love for Israel.”

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