2019 School Co-Captain Final Assembly Speech

I have been doing a lot of existential thinking lately. Partly induced by doing Philosophy but mostly by the ever-encroaching abyss of life after school. After much deliberation, which serves the double purpose of procrastination, I have decided that life consists of a series of phases. And as nihilistic as this may sound, these phases are mostly meaningless. Not meaningless to us, but meaningless to the 13-year-old girl sitting in a school in Tokyo. So, instead of only appreciating the world-altering moments and phases in our lives, I think it is important to cherish the small moments and feelings which characterise our existence.

One of the first moments I remember at St Catherine’s, as we all started off as fresh little Year 7s with the ‘just out of primary school’ attitude plastered on our faces, was our realisation that we are now ‘teenagers’. However, this Hollywood lighting quickly disappeared with Miss Molloy, impeding with a new moment, on the prowl checking our skirt lengths via the iconic ‘touch your toes’ test. By Year 8, we had definitely lost our fresh glow with more and more ‘brace faces’ and ‘train tracks’ emerging – but most iconic for 2015 has to be the infamous crow who has made St Catherine’s his target of choice, menacingly eyeing our food at recess, only to strike during Periods 2 and 3, unzipping bags and opening lunch boxes to steal our lunches, which we were eagerly waiting for. By Year 9, our school bags were thrown off the Science block balcony like Astyanax was thrown from the battlements of Troy. Year 10, in which we won Ms Spanos’s heart – and I am pretty sure we were her favourite year level up until roughly, hmm, last Friday. Year 11, being shocked and surprised by everyone’s inner tyrannical inclinations which came to light during House Arts. And, the best yet, Year 12, with too many moments in the Common Room which should probably remain in the Common Room.

Clearly, it has been a pretty memorable journey at St Catherine’s over the years for our cohort. Although, as we grow outside of School, whether it be six months out or 60 years, we will forget some of the details of our time here. Whether the Sherren House door is green or red will become foggy. However, what people tend to remember is how they felt at different moments in time, and I know we will never forget how we felt during our time here. And I think this is what will keep us connected to St Catherine’s forever; an unavoidable link, no matter how much some of us might want to run from it at Schoolies.

It is the feeling of home. Not home in the sense of where you spend most of your time sleeping, binge-watching Netflix and occasionally crying – although these boundaries are inevitably crossed in Year 12 – but that feeling of comfort and assurance that you belong. And as much as this has undertones of my ‘nerdiness’, I think this accounts for that inexplicable feeling of home-sickness during the holidays. But, in order to move on to the next phase of life in some kind of coherent whole – as much as I wish I could hit pause on the clocks for a few more weeks – we need to change this into a feeling of upbeat, nostalgic connection to a special period of time which has shaped us. And hopefully this sentiment will be reciprocated. That we will hold a small yet mighty place in the heart of the School; to be remembered as the kind and united ‘Braddy Bunch of 2019’.

Past these sentiments, there are some people who have been instrumental to our time for the entire cohort. Firstly, thank you to the parents. And not just my parents for dealing with my alter ego in the mornings, but all of the parents. I think it is safe to say our year level has some of the most iconic parent stories keeping everyone infinitely entertained, as well as their often unrecognised efforts in getting us through this monumental journey.

Thank you to all of the teachers. I remember being told countless times that ‘when you are older you will be friends with the teachers’, and as much as I wish stubborn little me was correct in denying it, they really do become your friends. Aside from the elite banter that develops over the years, all of the teachers have become our support systems – seeing us at our worst in collective hysteria before an English SAC or our best after Mrs Braddy buys as another round of pizza. Teachers are such a special breed of people; honestly, the most dedicated and caring to walk this Earth. But the St Catherine’s teachers are a further upper echelon of this – I am not sure why they all congregate at St Catherine’s, there must be something in the Toorak water – but we are all so grateful that they do. Every single staff member here is inspiring, and although it is not what we are thinking of when getting told off for lacking your ribbon or the strange new trend that emerged this winter of the untucked shirt, they are all such incredible people. From Mr Gilby speaking upward of roughly seven languages, to Mrs Matt and Miss Gunn being some of the first women in their respective Mathematical careers, to Mrs Braddy who manages to juggle being a biological mother to the beautiful Charlie while being a figurative mother to all 78 of us Year 12s. While I wish I could list the extraordinary achievements of all of the teachers, we would probably be here until I hit my death bed. But in essence, thank you all for being the best sculptures for so many impressionable minds.

Next up, my wacky, spontaneous, disorganised, and perhaps verging on genius, right-hand man ‘Kavy K’. Kavina, since I first met you as ILC nerds in 2014, I could tell you were one special human being; whether this was good or bad I had not established yet. But now I am certain it is for good. I could not have asked to share this year with a better partner in crime, because you are it – the epitome of a leader who makes people feel safe to be their authentic selves simply in your presence. I have learnt so much from you this year – and in an awkward Kavina fashion which seems only appropriate – ‘like thanks I guess’?

To the Year 7s through to 11s, thank you for the smiles in the hallways, the cards in our lockers, the laughs (and sometimes even baked goods) in classes. Thank you for making this school what it is; you are its essence and you have the power to guide it how you will – which has always been through care and laughter, and a never-ageing feeling of optimism.

But most importantly, to the Class of 2019. I do not know where to begin. We have been through some interesting challenges together, including widespread gastro in Fiji, feeling the emotional wrath of teachers in a Year 8 Period 4B Music lesson, and struggling through those awkward Year of Wonders scenes where we wish we should just say, “Geraldine, too much detail”. Yet, every time we have bounced back up, and maybe also bounced off each other and the walls in the process, but nevertheless back up. We have become more than just friends this year, but family. I used to always complain about the injustices of life in that I never got to have a sister, but now I have 78. Thank you for making a racket in the Common Room all year. Thank you for those times in class in which we all laugh so hard it is difficult to breathe. Thank you for spamming the group chat asking if the coming Monday is a Day 1 or 7, and whether assembly is on for a potentially extended spare. Most of all, thank you for your kindness and being unapologetically yourselves. We have all influenced each other to be a group of incredibly special people, and after spending an excessive amount of time all on top of each other over the past years, I am so excited to see what everyone achieves past these gates.

St Catherine’s, cheers and thank you for helping us to be ‘us’ and harbouring all these little moments. We will never forget this place, or at least the feeling of home it gives us.

Georgina Cottrill

2019 St Catherine's School Co-Captain

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