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Ex-student Zara Jillings was always at the top of her game while at Westlake Girls and her selection for the Tall Ferns comes as no surprise. Despite a rigorous sporting schedule in her final year at Westlake Girls, Zara managed to juggle the demands of being House Captain for Hauraki House, attending national and international science forums while also achieving Level 3 with Excellence, to add to her previous Excellence endorsements at Levels 1 and 2.
Zara left Westlake last year and was awarded a full scholarship to Fordham University, New York City, where she is studying Business. Her first semester required her to be ‘red-shirted’ from basketball, meaning she could attend classes, practice and travel with her basketball team but not play. After an intensive and rigorous training schedule over the past six months she has now fully acclimatised to life in New York and the demands of College basketball and will be heading on a foreign tour with her team soon after she returns from touring with the Tall Ferns.
Zara acknowledges that College basketball is a big step up from high school, and that playing on the international stage with the Tall Ferns will take her sport to another level, but one she is very excited about: “Being called in to go on tour with the Tall Ferns was a pretty surreal feeling. Representing New Zealand as a Tall Fern has been a goal of mine ever since I was young, but something I wasn't expecting to happen this early. It is such an incredible opportunity to travel and learn, while competing with and against a range of amazing players.”
Katelin Noyer, a fellow ex-Westlake student, has also been selected as a non-travelling reserve for the Tall Ferns.
Photo caption: Zara Jillings representing New Zealand.
Cantare’s Brisbane Tour a Resounding Success
Westlake’s premier girls’ choir Cantare (directed by HOD Fiona Wilson) has just returned from a highly successful tour to Brisbane, which culminated in them winning both their female voice category and the top award for Best Performance at the inaugural ASPIRE International Youth Music Festival. ASPIRE is a not for profit event with the proceeds going to The Foundation of Student Horizons, an organisation set up to give disadvantaged youth the opportunity to broaden their horizons through group travel and global connections.
Cantare’s 12-day tour began with three days at Australia’s Choralfest Conference where the choir worked with two international choral clinicians and, after three days of rehearsals, made up a core part of a 200 strong female choir, performing at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to a full capacity crowd.
Interspersed with sightseeing trips around Brisbane, Cantare relished the opportunity to form connections with other talented young musicians from around the world, to learn from world-class conductors and musical directors, and to perform at a variety of public venues. Recognising the enormous value of this experiential learning, Samantha Lim, Cantare’s student leader, summed it up: “All the members of the choir learnt so much from the masterclasses and workshops with international conductors such as André Thomas from the USA, Elise Bradley from Canada, and Paul Holley and Nicholas Cleobury from Australia. These expert clinicians all helped our choir rise to a new level in our music making. Performing beautiful music on stage with 43 other young women is a unique and special experience and the joy of walking off stage after we have performed our best, is one of the things I love most about being in Cantare…winning the top award at ASPIRE was the icing on the cake. Now we are really looking forward to competing in the NZCF Big Sing Finale to be held here in Auckland later this month.”
Photo caption: Cantare with conductor Fiona Wilson after winning Best Performance at ASPIRE.
Eco-Fashion in Fabric Technology
With Eco-Fashion the focus for Fabric Technology, Year 12 student Chantelle Reilly was inspired to turn unwanted waste into a high quality garment that is unrecognisable as recycled rubbish. This led to the creation of a three-piece men’s suit, which she entered into the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards.
Chantelle explains how her upcycled design came about: “The idea of my garment was to show that rough and unrefined waste can be turned into desirable things, so people may start to think more about recycling. Waste is a huge issue for our planet. New Zealand imports 350,000 coffee sacks a year and my tailored suit is made from four sacks. I wanted it to represent a sense of formality, quality and business…and to get people thinking about how they can reuse things that are currently sent to landfill.”
The detail and craftsmanship in Chantelle’s piece are very evident, with everything carefully chosen to reinforce her message. The jacket lining is made from offcuts provided by Seed to Self, who visited Fabric Technology students earlier in the year and whose cotton is grown in a sustainable environment which allows farmers to live off the land where the cotton is produced and gives them a lifestyle that has low impact on the land and a living wage. She explains: “The birds embroidered on the back of the waistcoat and the lining of the jacket painted with trees both serve as a subtle reminder of the preciousness of our planet.” Other notions used in her creation were buttons made from squashed rusted beer bottle tops and a belt fashioned from an old bike inner tube.
RAW Talent at Stage Challenge
A captivating performance at the ASB Theatre earned Westlake’s student-led Stage Challenge group second place in the RAW division of this annual competition. In addition to their overall placing, the group scooped up seven excellence awards for drama, choreography, performance skill, visual enhancement, costume and character, soundtrack, and environmental and social awareness.
For the Stage Challenge Committee, the groundwork began straight after last year’s show in preparation for auditions at the start of the year. Having decided on the theme of materialism, the production focused on how parents use gifts to show empathy to their child in times of hardship, setting up bad habits as children want the latest trends while parents work tirelessly to supply them. As Director Jess Smith explained: “Materialism can become obsessive and uncontrollable; a destructive cycle that obscures our spiritual values. We wanted to encourage the audience, especially the younger audience, to find joy and happiness in the love and care the people who surround them show, rather than through materialistic items which they crave but do not necessarily need.”
With over 70 participants across all years, Stage Challenge requires a huge commitment but the rewards go far beyond the results of the final show. Jess summed it up: “Within the many months, weeks, hours and days we have been together practising for the one big event, we have become a family and without any of these girls the place we came or the commitment shown would never have been the same. Stage Challenge allows people to come together and enjoy something they love, whether it’s dance, acting, makeup, lighting or creating costumes. It was an incredible experience that none of us will ever forget.”
Photo caption: Westlake's Stage Challenge explores the theme of materialism.
Channel Magazine: Issue 79 August 2017