Be Proud of your Individualism

The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life

As a School community we have enjoyed the celebrations of the Valedictory evening and Speech Night Awards with our Year 12 girls this week. Much has been said throughout many speeches about the milestone of completing 13 years of schooling and the significant leadership and inspiration of the St Catherine’s Seniors this year. For 12 girls, this journey commenced at St Catherine’s as members of Mrs Di Rundle’s Prep class in 2003, and for some, as members of our ELC community in the years prior.

Our School Captain, Nicola Sitch and School Vice-Captain, Jaqueline Cantarella have farewelled the community with grace, poise and composure. On more than one occasion their speeches were met with a resounding applause (and the odd tear), brilliant in execution, wit and sincerity. I have linked the girls’ speeches from our Awards Evening on Tuesday here for your enjoyment.

I personally recall with affection several lively and enriching conversations with our Year 12 girls this year. As a cohort, their vibrancy, commitment, determination, and persistence was always evident and always reflected throughout the School. I recall their enthusiasm to commence the year whilst at their Senior Leadership Conference at Ormond College in January, keen to try on their blue jumpers for the first time despite the summer heat; their nervous energy in Sydney at the Rowing Nationals; their sense of fun and enjoyment shared at the House Snowsports; their delight as musicians, successful and jubilant, after the Gala Concert in the Melbourne Recital Centre; the relief for some girls last week with their VCE French Oral – complete; my admiration of their work displayed at the Senior Art Show, a fabulous and inspiring gallery of works; their visible presence in Sherren House, seeking out a Mathematics teacher or one last draft for an English teacher; their sense of comfort they so visibly feel in their common room, or simply just chatting with the girls at the front gate in the afternoons. With the guidance of our Year 12 girls, 2015 has been a proud and uplifting narrative for St Catherine’s and their story of generosity, kindness and inspiration will be enduring.

I have encouraged the girls that no matter what journey they take, none will be straightforward or predictable. I wish for them to be proud of their individualism and to feel exhilarated by the unique paths they are each about to take. I recognise that there continue to be considerable challenges for all women in making choices, navigating careers and in accessing the full range of opportunities to contribute to society. But, I encourage our young women to put their hand up, to sit at the table, to be women with a greater voice where they are genuinely heard and perspectives equally considered; I encourage them to be bold and courageous in pursuing their dreams. Psychologist and writer the late John Gardner — known as the uncommon American — said of the meaning in life:

“[It] is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, and the people you love. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you.”

And I give this reminder to our departing Year 12 girls and those still walking this amazing journey – the gates to St Catherine’s will always be open, as they have been for the past 125 years. You will always be welcome, long after we ring the bell and bid you farewell on your final day.

Congratulations girls, and as a School community, we wish you well with your forthcoming VCE Examinations.

Mrs Jane Torii – Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award

It is my great pleasure this week to announce the second recipient of the St Catherine’s School Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Mrs Jane Torii. This award is peer nominated and acknowledges a teacher who:

  • demonstrates consistent and dedicated service;
  • achieves excellent student outcomes;
  • demonstrates willingness to share successful teaching and learning strategies with peers, and
  • contributes to the School’s mission and values.

As an outstanding educator, Mrs Torii who has dedicated 22 years of service to our Language Faculty, demonstrating much encouragement, understanding and support to all her students during this time; she is held in high regard by her colleagues for her leadership, gentle patience and her willing contribution to the School. Mrs Torii has travelled with students on Language Study Tours numerous times over the past 22 years, often sacrificing family time to spend Christmas with our girls. This Award is a wonderful acknowledgement of Mrs Torii’s professionalism and her commitment to education and the students at St Catherine’s School.

Mrs Michelle Carroll

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