Honoured Guests, Graduating Class, Ladies and Gentlemen, Students, Good Morning.
Our family has been involved with William Carey Christian School for the last 14 years. However, when Clive and I built our house, just up the road, 21 years ago, we were quite unaware that William Carey even existed. One polling day we had a chance to meet the staff and see the school. The staff were welcoming, the gardens were in bloom, the school grounds looked lovely and there was just a nice feel about the school. So, in 2004, we enrolled our son, Ben, and he started Kindergarten.
Our real partnership with William Carey began in earnest on day 2, when Ben indignantly informed me that he wouldn’t be going to school today because that’s what he did yesterday. I didn’t have the heart to tell him then, that he would be doing exactly that, for the next 13 years.
It took some convincing to get him to the classroom door and indeed into the classroom itself. But after he let out a huge wail, and copious tears, both the teacher and the Learning Support Officer convinced him to stay. Imagine my dismay then, when I had finally disentangled myself from him and the classroom, only to find him walking beside me back to the car.
I didn’t even have the chance to turn around. I felt a reassuring hand on my arm, and I heard a calm and encouraging voice talking to Ben. And then, firmly but gently, he was taken by the hand, and led back to the room.
That afternoon, the teachers and I formed a partnership. We all had a role in the success of transitioning Ben into school. And so, by the end of the second week, with a lot of encouragement and a little bribery, we finally achieved our goal.
It was then that I knew we had made the right choice of school. Everything was going to be all right. The staff were caring. They were encouraging. They would nurture my children just as I would at home. My children would be safe.
Fortunately, in 2005, when my daughter Jess, started school, there were no such histrionics. Rather, she waited impatiently for me to leave the classroom, so that she could start the day, and revelled in the fact that she finally had real homework, instead of jealously looking over Ben’s shoulder at his. However, that novelty soon wore off.
I have always loved that William Carey promoted a partnership in education between themselves and the parents. Throughout the years, I have formed many partnerships with staff. And many of those have gone beyond the bounds of the teaching role in their dealings with our children. To extend them, challenge them, encourage them or even to keep them safe, and I am forever grateful to these wonderful people who have enhanced the lives of my children and reassured myself.
Besides these partnerships, the other element that was important to me was the sense of community. There were numerous opportunities for carers and parents to become involved, helping in the classroom, assisting with excursions and camps, or even attending sports carnivals. And on a much larger scale becoming involved with the wider community, at the Fun Fairs, the School Musicals, and other school events.
I really enjoyed helping at these community events – I can’t remember how many ice creams I’ve sold, sausages I’ve turned or how many tears I’ve shed over the sliced onions. It was always an opportunity to see the students, the staff and other parents in a completely different light. Along with the hard work, there was always a sense of excitement, a sense of achievement, a sense of success, and a feeling of belonging and congeniality.
More importantly, there were many opportunities for the students. Besides the subjects of the curriculum, there were numerous projects, competitions, and opportunities with which to become involved. But academics are just a portion of a well-rounded education. Perhaps more relevant, are the elements that build individuals who are caring, compassionate, and respectful. Those who possess good leadership and team skills. In these areas, William Carey has much to offer, if you have a mind to accept it.
William Carey offers you the opportunity to explore your spirituality and your relationship with God.
The opportunity to excel on the sporting field, or to follow a passion for the arts and creativity.
The opportunity to provide service to both local and international communities, to assist those less fortunate than ourselves with spirit, compassion and generosity.
The opportunity to challenge yourself. The Duke of Edinburgh program will teach you more about your strengths and capabilities than you ever thought possible. It not only requires perseverance, strength and endurance but also a consistent determination of mind. It is an experience not soon forgotten. My daughter Jess, was lucky enough to participate in this program, and I believe that her Silver Duke of Edinburgh hike was one of the defining moments of her schooling.
Our children chose very different pathways in their schooling, they accepted different challenges, had different experiences and have very different outcomes, and yet, the basic core of their being is still the same.
They are humble, well-rounded young adults.
They are caring and considerate.
They have a high moral standard.
They have respect for themselves and others.
They are confident, inspired, empowered,
And they are resilient.
It’s been a great privilege to be included in this community. To feel involved, to feel valued and to give something back. Yes, there have been moments that I will never want to revisit or repeat, but I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
So, as I stand here today and look back, with a touch of sadness, at the chapter that is about to close, I also look to the future and the chapter that’s about to begin. For our children, there will be challenges, there will be adventures and excitements. There will be dark moments and there will be great joy and triumphs. Learning is a lifelong process, but Clive and I are confident in the knowledge that as a result of their involvement with this community, that our children are well equipped to face whatever life brings. And for that we are grateful, and feel truly blessed.