School Captains’ Graduation Speech

13 years.
Or 512 weeks.
Or 2, 560 days.
Or 16, 640 hrs.

That’s (about) how long we’ve been in school for. And now we have less than two hours left.

In three weeks from now we will be sitting in our first HSC exam- the thing that all this time is supposed to have amounted to. But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves now.

Good morning staff, students, parents, carers, and the graduating Class of 2019! It is the greatest honour to be here with you today to celebrate our Year 12 graduation. Kaysia and I have been privileged to have the opportunity to speak to, and on behalf of, the 2019 graduating class. 

They say it takes a village to raise a child, well that’s exactly what we see happen in our school. There are so many people who deserve thanks for walking with us through many of our 13 years of schooling, and right now we want to acknowledge a few. 

To every teacher who has had us over the past 13 years- there’s probably over a hundred of you- thank you. Our teachers have had an immense impact on us because of their passion for our education, but it hasn’t ended there. So many have had such an impact on our personal lives- to all of you, we hope that you know who you are, and how grateful we are.

To our Year Advisers and Pastoral Care teachers- You have all spent every morning with us for so many years, talking to, praying for, and checking in on us. Thank you for investing in our personal well-being, many of us could not have made it through high school without you.

The school community here at William Carey has been a part of our journey from Kindergarten in 2007, to graduation today. On behalf of the whole of Year 12, we want to thank the school and present our departing gift, a $1000 cheque for the Learning Support Unit.

Both the staff and students in the LSU have been a wonderful joy to be amongst throughout school. We hope this money will be used for the kitchen upgrades they are in need of, as well as further learning resources.

To every parent, carer, and family member of our year group – thank you. Thank you for walking beside us, every step of the way. Thank you for believing in us, sacrificing your own convenience to guide us. Thank you for writing our speeches, then listening to us practise those speeches thirty times every night for a week. Thank you for buying us new water bottles every time we ‘lost them’ at school. Thank you for crying with, and for us, when friendships were hard, or we had messed up and gotten in trouble. Thank you for guiding us on our academic journey, through the exultation of great results, to the classes that have been overwhelming, especially during the HSC. These young men and women graduating today wouldn’t be sitting here before us if it wasn’t for you.

To every student here- from Year 7 to 11- thank you. We may not know all of you, but thank you for being kind to us even through our stressful haze. Thank you for being quiet outside our exam rooms, and asking us how we are coping. Although we are all so excited to finally be graduating, there is so much to enjoy and be grateful for throughout high school, that we will miss. We are continually praying for all of you, that as you work towards this day for yourselves, you will also embrace your time here.

On that note, we wanted to stop and reflect on some of the best memories we have from William Carey. Both Kaysia and I have had the privilege of attending school here since Kindergarten, so we have known a lot of you for all 13 years. 

I for one will not forget our grade flooding the dance floor when Charlie Brown came on at every single primary school dance. 

I know some of you boys haven’t forgotten Mr Ellerman’s practical joke in the boys cabins at Year 9 camp. 

We won’t forget the endless school musicals many of us were involved in, from music, to dance, to backstage crews. 

Or Joel serenading his classes with “This Land is Mine” at every possible opportunity for the entirety of Year 10.

Or Spontaneous water fights at Year 11 camp, and food fights in the senior area.

Or the traditional end of term snack packs that the bois gather around, along with the weekly volleyball games that we managed to integrate into our lunchtimes. 

Or pretending to be ‘friendly’ about our Staff vs Student matches. We all know you got smashed in soccer.

Or the moment of horror we all experienced when chess was blocked on the school WiFi.  Well, that definitely wasn’t a good memory for us, but I’m sure our teachers were cheering. Nonetheless it’s been a crazy 13 years, with memories beyond what we can recall or fit into this speech. 

Despite the fact that the majority of the boys and girls sat separately until about last year, we are proud to look out today at us all sitting here, about to finish together. 

We began our first year of education knowing the simplest and most important song, so we want to conclude our final year using the same one. Here is what we’ve coined, the ‘ABCs of Adulthood’- we have already observed so many of these qualities in you all, and will continue to pray you live these out in years to come.

A; adventurous. We leave school today independent, so go out and try new things. (Responsibly of course).

B; brave. be unafraid in both excitingly new, and frighteningly hard circumstances.

C; creative. Be a reflection of God’s handiwork through your passions and talents.

D; dedicated. Not only to our studies, but also to our passions, family, and community. 

E; empathetic. Listen to others, and walk with them as they face the trials of life. All of us will need someone to do this for us at many points in our own lives.

F; forgiving. Love others even when we believe they don’t deserve it. Give people another chance and pray for change. 

G; grateful. We are so privileged to live in Australia, and have attended such a safe school like William Carey. 

H; honourable. Conduct yourself in a manner of respect, and humble yourself to honour those deserving of it. 

I; intentional. Think before you speak or act. Only say and do what will build up others. Do things with purpose, and with passion.

J; joyful. Smile – the best things in life are free, right? Joy is a gift that we can choose to bless others and ourselves with. 

K; kind. It’s not hard to be kind. Our world is continually in need of more kindness.

L; loving. It’s more than just a feeling. It’s an action, a commitment – for love is patient, love is kind. It’s an action that gives value to everything we do. 

M; motivated. In 46 days, every single one of us will be finished the HSC, it’s not long. Stay motivated, get it done, then rest up so you start next year with a new motivation for the future.

N; nurturing. We may not all be qualified counsellors, but we can all invest in someone else. Let us be the co workers who uplift those around us. 

O; optimistic. It can often seem like this world has lost all hope- but Christ’s love is still in the world and therefore hope still exists in us. 

P; prayerful. The same God who made the universe wants to talk to you, and wants you to speak. It is ultimately prayer that will form your personal relationship with God.

Q; quirky. Not one of the people I am looking out at right now are the same. Western culture often wants to put people into little boxes of how to look, what to wear, who to like. Class of 2019, you are all so unique, so forget those boxes and just be you, quirks and all.

R; rational. Most of us are relieved to finally feel the freedom from these school grounds, but as we leave this comfortable nest, even more so we need to think for ourselves, and make good decisions.

S; sensitised. Don’t let the monotonous reporting of the media numb you to the sin and pain in this world. We can’t be naive, and forget this world is in need of saving. 

T; teachable. Even as we leave high school we have so much more to learn and grow in. Humble yourself to be taught by others. 

U; unashamed. Whether you believe it or not, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, for a purpose. Don’t be ashamed to proclaim what you believe.

V; vibrant. Having some colour in our lives wouldn’t hurt. Let your youth energize someone else’s day. 

W; wise. Some of us literally had to vote for our prime minister after turning 18 this year. Obviously we aren’t going to be able to figure this adult stuff out by ourselves, so always be seeking to grow in wisdom.

X; xenial. In case you don’t know what that means- to be xenial is to be friendly to strangers. You never know what people may be going through.

Y; yielding. Surrender to the things in life you cannot change, and do not allow them to consume you.

Z; zealous. To be zealous, or have zeal, is to have great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. We decided to end with this because the word ‘Zealous’ can be a way in which you live out each of these ABCs with energy and purpose.

Hopefully most of you know by now that Dylan and I both trust in Jesus’ saving grace, and have tried our best to live our lives in light of Him. We want to put this list of qualities in light of what we believe, so hopefully you can see how it encapsulates a bit of how Jesus lived. And maybe then, it’ll be more than just a cheesy way to inspire you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Many of us here today may be unsure of what lies ahead. We may not entirely know what career path we want to take, or on the other hand, some of us here may have the next five years meticulously planned. However, wherever we go and whatever we do doesn’t quite matter. Rather, I would encourage each of us to question the purpose of why we do what we do. Many of us here are probably still figuring out what our purpose in this world even is, and even still piecing together our identity. 1 Corinthians 13 beautifully articulates the concept of how even the greatest achievements, which our world often tries to define purpose and identity by, can be worth nothing if we don’t have love. Although the world may portray love in various ways, or we may have felt disappointed by love, here’s how the Bible defines love. 

Verse 4-8a goes on to say “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”

The love the Bible talks about is different to the love our world tries to sell. This is the love that only Christ can give us, because only He can achieve complete perfection. The Bible defines love as a dedication rather than a feeling. Love as a feeling cannot protect, nor trust. But love as a dedication can choose to hope and persevere. Whether we believe in Christ or not, these qualities are undeniably ways we should live by. So let us walk out today with a purpose. A purpose whereby we intentionally seek to do all things with love.

From Verse 11-13, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

So, class of 2019, this is the last time we will be high school students. We have been children for a long time now, but now we will put the ways of childhood behind us. And in what come next, there is a lot of unknown. But you can study for 10 hours a day for the next three weeks and still not be able to answer every single question English paper one can throw at you.

The joy is, if you count Jesus as your saviour, you will be with Him in heaven when all of the mysteries of this world are revealed to us. And then, let me tell you, our ATARs, or even the thirteen years of school preceding them, will not matter. We pray that each of you will stand beside us on that day, having achieved the true goal of this life. Let that be a comfort amidst the unknown, and a motivation to go out today in the love of God. 

Year 12, thank you for all of these years, whether it’s only been a couple, or the whole thirteen. We’ve finally made it, and we are so proud of each and every one of you. We are praying for you in the coming weeks, months and years, as we sit exams and then begin new lives. Continue on in faith, hope, and love. Congratulations Class of 2019. We love you!