Dear St Michael’s College Community,
As Principal, I often reflect on how fortunate I am to truly enjoy my job. I work with a terrific group of people who have a genuine heart for the work they do, and partner with families who love and want their sons and daughters to flourish. I feel privileged to see first hand the spirit and qualities of our young people and hold great hope in their capacity to fully reach their potential and make a positive difference to the lives of others.
As the St Michael’s College Class of 2020 complete their final assessments and exams, I thank them for what they have brought to our community. I also thank them for being open and willing to engage with our College staff and build strong, positive relationships as this is one of our great joys! They have been truly remarkable, both as individuals and as a Year 12 group. To each of the 2020 graduands, I offer the following:
“Identify and cherish what is unique about you and pursue what you most value in yourself and others. Don’t search for success or excellence thinking this will bring you fulfilment or happiness, but rather search for fulfilment and happiness by exploring your passions. Success and excellence will then follow and mean more to you. Understand what it truly means to be inclusive and respectful. Be authentic. Be empathetic. Build healthy relationships. Be kind, and never confuse kindness for weakness. Work hard. Finally, know that ‘who you are’ will always be more important than ‘what you are’. It has been our great privilege as staff, and mine as Principal, to teach and know you, and we wish you all the best in coming weeks and the years ahead”.
As College Captains, Olivia Higgins and James Dimas have been wonderful representatives of the Class of 2020, I offer below some excerpts of their final address to staff, students and families:
“As we stand here with you today, we reflect not only upon this, our graduation year, but also the previous years we have spent together. We’ve all followed different pathways to get us here, and tonight we celebrate reaching this point in our journey. 2020 has been an absolute rollercoaster and perhaps no one could have prepared any of us for the year that has been. We have faced a pandemic that has rocked our entire planet, and whilst there is now a strong sense of hope here in Australia we continue to hold those affected by this crisis worldwide in our thoughts and prayers. As a result of the obstacles we’ve been pushed to overcome this year, the Class of 2020 has developed a skill set unique to that of any other graduating class; bravery, perseverance, collaboration and a willingness to adapt in the event of challenges that may arise. These attributes that we have developed this year will stay with us for the rest of our lives and will shape us to be some of the most influential and valuable members of our society in years to come.
When we first addressed the cohort as College Captains, we asked the question “how does a new journey begin? With a first step”. Since we all took that step together, our entire world has changed. We’ve seen natural disasters, protests, global movements and of course the COVID19 pandemic. When we took that step we couldn’t predict what other steps we would have to take on the way, from online lessons and disruption of daily life, to the anxiety of not knowing what tomorrow will hold. But what was learned through this is that it doesn’t matter what the journey is, rather it’s about being open and ready to adapt to whatever is presented to us along that journey. What became paramount, was how we got through this together.
Leading up to tonight, we have really been reflecting on the year that has been. From the perspective as your captains, we have loved seeing so many of your achievements, whether that be academically, on the sporting field or even just in the relationships that been formed and strengthened. And through this observation, we just feel an overwhelming sense of pride in what everyone has achieved to this point.
To our parents and families, we know we’ve sometimes been hard work, we know it’s at times been tough. We thank you for putting up with the grumpy Monday mornings, the “Where’s my blazer?”, the grunts you might get in response to simply asking how our day was, and all the other Year 12 dramas. However, even though we may not always show it, we truly appreciate all that you do for us, and we couldn’t be where we are without your love and support. We also feel it’s important for us to acknowledge that not everyone was able to attend our mass tonight, whether that simply be through COVID restrictions, or sadly, for some of us, through the loss of members of our immediate and extended family. We think of these people, and we thank them for the impact they’ve had on our lives and the way that they’ve shaped us to be who we are today. We know that our parents, our family, our teachers and our mentors are so excited to see where life now takes each one of us. To the Class of 2020, we hope that your St Michael’s community will forever be to you a place of support, comfort and love.
As with many of you in this room we both have part-time jobs. For me (James), it’s at the supermarket working at the checkout, and for the last couple of weeks I have been constantly asked, “How do you feel that year 12 is coming to an end?”. My response is always, I can’t wait to start this new chapter and whilst the countdown to the final day excites us, it also scares us because we don’t know what the future holds. The new journey we begin has actually been many, many years in the making. Thirteen years of schooling is coming to an end and tonight we embark on this chapter together. So we ask the Year 12s and invite you all to look around at all the people who have been on this journey with you. There has never been a year level like ours, and we’re not just referring to how we persevered through the challenges of 2020, I am talking about the big family of 240 brothers and sisters that we have become. Our teachers can reaffirm the diverse and inclusive group that we are. What a great bunch of people and we ask everyone in the room to give a round applause recognising the achievements of this great group.
As our families acknowledge us, we thank all the people who have supported us along the way; our parents and guardians, who see the best in us even when we are at our worst, our educators and staff who empower us to be the very best we can be, the college leaders who keeps us together and give our days direction, and importantly you.
We are now to go out into the world and pursue our passion, contribute to the fabric of society, and continue to reinforce the values that St Michael’s taught us. Thank you so much for the past 12 months, serving as College Captains has been our great joy, and we are so happy to have been on this journey with you. Thank you.