Final Assembly Speech 2018 Annabelle Motteram Year 12 Co-Captain
People will always remember how you make them feel
The year was 2013. The month, February. The day, well, it was the day. The day where we would all put on our grey dresses, brand new ribbons and step through those Heyington Gates for the first time as Year 7 Students. We were naive, innocent, hopeful, energetic, curious and probably nervous. And now, here we are. The year is 2018. The month, October. The day, well it is the day. The day we walk through those gates one final time, a little less naive, some of us a little less innocent… but with the same sense of hope and curiosity that we had all those years ago.
To be completely honest, I never thought I would be the one delivering this speech for the Class of 2018. But it has been a privilege to represent the voice of year 12 this year, and I will miss you all with everything I have. Before I continue, I would love to thank for my Co-Captain, my partner in crime, Steph. You have the kindest, and warmest heart of anyone I know, and it has been such an honour to lead St Catherine’s with you by my side.
We came into Year 7 in February 2013, some of us from Barbreck and others from beyond. It was a time when upper library was held the dining room table in the boarding house; a time when our conversations consisted of either Harry or Louis. We started off surfing at Phillip Island on School camp and since we caught that first wave our journey truly began.
Our year 8 days consisted of the ‘quick unpick’, Anna Todd’s weekly chapter releases of After on wattpad and devising plans to get our revenge on the black crow who stole our beloved lunches from Croutons.
Year 9 was…interesting times as some may say, but I believe it was also the year where we figured ourselves out. In a day and age where women are still silenced and degraded, we in all our year 9 glory would show the signs of a very different type of girl. We were unapologetically loud, a little obnoxious and obsessed with the Kookai dresses we would spend hours choosing to wear to dance class each week. Unfortunately, as Demi would tell you after swapping dresses halfway through the dance class, the boys do not notice.
Our next year was one of tranquillity and mindfulness due to the relaxing aura of Ms Spanos whose office was a salvation from the burdens of our 16-year-old existence. Our claim to fame also occurred during Year 10, when our village retreats in Fiji turned into outbreaks of conjunctivitis, Gastro and a casual natural disaster. However, this trip defined some of us, as it was incredibly challenging. It provided many with the opportunity to develop an exception level of resilience which I see in each of us every day.
However, Year 11 and year 12 is where I noticed a true change in all of us. I know I speak on behalf of many here when I feel harder after this year, we have a coat of armour which unites all of us. There are girls amongst the Class of 2018 who have undergone incredible hardship to get to where they are today. Our story is not one of perfection, a bit of hard work and the occasional passion pop. For some, it’s a story of a girl who made the decision to come to a new country- as International students going to a school every-day where you cannot study in your own language; for some, it involves walking into school with a broken heart; and for others, it means braving the common room, when a temporary loss of hope for the future plagues us.
This year has been hard; it has been great; but hard.
J.k. Rowling said it ‘does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live’ however, for the Class of 2018 I believe it’s the opposite. It is our dreams and ambition which define us, because it drives us to live life to its fullest. Whether your dream consists of getting 99 or a quick McDonalds trip during Literature Class that’s your call, but what unites us is our consensus for a better tomorrow, the belief that our future is a great one.
People will never remember what you say. My words today may resonate but they will soon be nothing more than a distant memory. However, people will always remember how you make them feel. And when I reflect on my time with the Class of 2018, I hear a single voice.
I hear the ringing in my ears of ‘We’re all in this together’, as we reach that moment in our high school journey when Chad says to Troy mid graduation ceremony, ‘this is the moment we get our diplomas’. We are reaching that nostalgic, bitter-sweet period when ongoing jokes are said the final time, and Margaret makes our final large Soy Late.
In writing this speech, I spent hours watching ‘inspirational speeches’, as I desperately tried to find way to translate how I was feeling into the written word. I had the wise words of Ms Forrest in my head. The memory of when my Year 9 self would sit in that front row, having no understanding of what’s going on, but vividly remembering her saying: ‘girls, every great speech tells a story’. So, this past week I have looked for every story I could find. I asked my sister, in year 10, what would you like to hear from me when I get up there? Her Response: S “Annabelle, I want it to be everything, I want to sit there and go, “that’s me, in what you said, that was amazing!’. No pressure there. Now, look that obviously was made in good humour, but the meaning behind rings true to me. This idea of a story, our story, your story, her story, everyone’s story. I couldn’t find a single ‘anecdote’ or ‘metaphor’ which would capture all of our beautiful moments shared together because the Class of 2018 is made up of 80 or so separate stories, and I want to thank you all for letting me be a part of yours.
I am so proud to say that I can stand up here and say we finally made it. But it hasn’t come easy, and it wasn’t just us. If your story is anything like mine, your mum will be superwoman and your dad will be superman. They packed me a vegemite and cheese sandwich everyday for the past 13 years and I will be eternally grateful that I will never to have to eat another one again. However, I would not be standing up here if it wasn’t for them. On behalf of the class of 2018, I want to say thank you to all the parents, aunties, uncles, siblings, grandparents honestly anyone who got us through to the finish line. Thank you for seeing the beauty within the challenge and sharing with us that it’s going to be a fight to live an interesting life, but that it’s a fight worth fighting for. From my parents, I have learned that if you want to make your story something worth telling, make it your own.
My cohort is shaped by our belief that our opinion is valid, and just and heard and a huge part of that is due to our mentors who have listened. To our deans Ms Gunn and Ms Dusting, we are forever indebted to you, for taking on the roles of not only our dean, but mother, best-friend, counsellor and doctor. And to all the teachers who have had the ‘pleasure’ of guiding us, I cannot put into words how thankful we are for all that you have done. There are educators in this school who treat their students as their equals, as their own children. I have had teachers who have taught me how to challenge the world around me from within the walls of a classroom, and those who have brought me to tears because I was so overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity. You could have done anything with your lives, but you chose to help us, to educate us. And I thank you for not only being a huge part of our stories, but for shaping them as well. You crafted our first few chapters, and now it’s up to us to continue with the journey.
Graduation I have now realised after 13 years of thinking about, is like nothing else in life. At what point in life are you forced to move on from people who have made you who you are today? It genuinely confuses me how some of the most defining years in our life are given a life sentence of 13 years? But, then again, what story finishes at just the beginning?
13 years a-go in prep the Class of 2018 didn’t even know how to read or write. Just think about the magnitude of that, and how far we have come today. If there is one thing that you take away from today girls, it is make the most of the moments like these in your schooling years. Not the number of followers, the selfies, the clothes, the formals and the grades. These are quantifiable. The things that truly matter at school, the connection you form with others, are immeasurable, and they define the main character in your narrative, and that is you.
When I look at this audience, yes I see the story of St Catherine’s, but more importantly, I see hundreds of individuals each with their own unique narrative. But some, perhaps fear going beyond themselves, and so struggle to pursue their own adventures. If we want to make our stories interesting, we need to stop reading everyone else’s to avoid writing our own. We need to be fearless, but most importantly, we need to be vulnerable, as these moments when we truly expose who we are to the world, are the moments which mark the beginning of our lives.