Student leader encourages others into the spotlight


Dedicated young musician Toby Sussex has approached the role of student leader with sincerity, openness, and the aim of getting younger students involved.

Over his years at Nayland, a lot of Toby’s spare time has been spent song-writing, playing in bands, performances, and just practising on his own. He’s been involved in the school orchestra, jazz and concert bands, as well as rock bands ‘The Lazy Boys,’ and ‘Sugarloaf’ with several other Nayland students.

“Music’s always been what I’ve really enjoyed,” he said. “I’ve always got a song in my head and I’ve always liked writing music as well. I like to have a platform to spread some of my ideas and music comes really naturally to me, I guess.”

Next year it’s off to Massey University for the young musician, who recently got accepted into his course. “I’d love to have a career in any aspect of the music industry,” he said. “I get the feeling it’s gonna be performance here, recording here, a bit of teaching. I just wanna get involved – I’m not too fussed about being ‘pop-star.’”

Taking on the role of student leader hasn’t always been something Toby saw himself doing, or even took an interest in. “I’d never been in a student council or anything, and I hadn’t done much leadership stuff except a bit around my youth group and church,” he said. “I was talking to last year’s student leaders, sort of thinking it might be something I could do, and they were really encouraging. My teachers said that I should put myself forward as well. It was literally the last day you could apply, and I was like ‘I’ll just do it and see what happens.’”

The positions are voted in by teachers and fellow students. “It was pretty cool, to know that that’s what people think of me because it was sort of putting myself out there, out of my comfort zone a bit.” His advice to younger students is along the same lines as the advice he once received. “Put your names forward. You’ll be surprised at what you can do.”

But being a student leader certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. “It’s been stressful at times to be honest. I’m not the most confident speaker. I get quite nervous beforehand.” This may be surprising to the many who have watched Toby perform at Rockquest, prizegivings, and Nayland’s Got Talent seemingly totally at ease.

“For me, singing a song onstage feels really different to just talking,” he said. “I get really into my music, and I’m kinda focused on the song, but with talking, I’m always thinking and wanting to say the right stuff. But having to push myself has definitely helped.”

His advice to future student leaders is to recognise their own talents. “Work to your strengths and the public speaking should come eventually,” he laughed. “And if that’s not your strong suit, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad leader. Everyone works in different ways.”

For Toby, the most valuable thing a leader can do is support others in their growth. “Encouraging people to get involved in stuff has been a really important part of my leadership, I feel, that’s what I’ve always been pushing. It means you meet new people and do new things. That’s what I’ve enjoyed the most about Nayland.”

So, to fellow Nayland students considering taking on risky new opportunities – this is your cue. 

By Student Journalist Maya Jayasena