Dr Shane Clifton
Lachlan is the third of my children to reach graduation, and my last. We arrived at William Carey in 2011 in the middle of a crisis. I was in hospital having recently broken my neck, and our house in Narellan was going to be too small for my wheelchair and the equipment I was to need when I returned home. So, Elly purchased a house in Ingleburn, and our kids moved to William Carey. The school, under the leadership of the wonderful Mr Wake, was extremely generous and supportive, going out of its way to make us welcome, gifting us some exceptional hampers, and pastoring our children during what was as much a crisis for them as it was for us. It is no small thing to face up to your crazy sport loving father trapped in ICU under what seemed then to be the sentence of a terrible paralysed future. Fortunately, life with a disability is usually better than we imagine it to be, and eight years on, our family is doing well. William Carey has been a big part of us getting to where we are now.
I can still remember our first parent teacher interview for Lachlan who started in Year 6. What stood out to the magnificent Mrs Rivers was not his scholarship or behaviour, which must have been OK, but that a gaggle of girls who thought he was cute. Over the years, Lachlan has had too much fun to avoid trouble altogether, but the school has mostly managed to direct his energies to sport (and endless days off for MISA interschool competitions for one strange sport after another; I did wonder whether lacrosse was worth another day away from the study of English and Maths).
Time flies and the three boys who arrived at William Carey are now young men. They are determined university (and HSC) students who value learning, and while I can’t claim they model all the fruits of the Spirit (patience and self-control being the least of them), they are mostly loving, joyous, kind, good, and faithful. Elly and I are extremely proud of who they are becoming. I say proud, but it might be truer to say that we feel fortunate, or blessed, because we know our own failures and limits as parents. The journey of parenting is a two-decade experiment where the rules of the game keep changing, and what you learn from dealing with one child doesn’t seem to work for the next. I’ve concluded that it doesn’t so much matter the style of parent that you are – whether strict or easy-going (and we were mostly the latter) — what matters most is that your kids know, by what you say and do, that you love them.
In this way, I think teaching is a little like parenting. There are many different styles, and some of you are strict and others of you softies, but what really matters is that you love the kids in your care, and are passionate about your subject. You’ve done and been that for my three boys, and I’m immensely thankful. On behalf of all the parents of the kids of William Carey, I say to Mr McMullen, and to the leadership, administration, and all the brilliant and dedicated teachers, thank you! We trusted our children to your care, and you haven’t let us down.
Maybe even more important than the teachers, are the friendships that our children have made; the besties, the mates, the boyfriends and girlfriends, the competitors, the acquaintances, and even the occasional enemy (especially those who later learn to kiss and make up). To every Year 12 student that has walked the journey through many long days and years with Lachlan, I say thank you. You are a great mob of kids (actually, young women and men), and I’m so glad you loved and accepted my boy. He’s better for your friendship, and I hope you are better for his.
I pray that you live richly, love deeply, serve faithfully, play madly, fight courageously, persevere determinedly; that through all the wins, losses, joys, and sadness that will come your way: that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. So that being rooted and established in love, you may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, that surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Grace and peace be with you.