Final Assembly Speech 2018 Stephanie Ferrali Year 12 Co-Captain
“Time is the most undefinable and yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like a flash of lightning, at once exists and expires”
The English writer Charles Caleb Colton said that “time is the most undefinable and yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like a flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.”
On this day 12 months ago, Annabelle and I delivered a speech to the year 12 leavers at their final church service. I remember feeling sad for them and being grateful that the class of 2018 still had an entire year ahead of them and yet, time has passed so quickly. But time also possesses emotional potency. Reflecting upon 2018 brings into sharp focus laughter and tears, success and disappointment, confidence and uncertainty, clarity and confusion, strength and weakness. Adversity has produced great achievements. Hard work and the sheer breadth of talent in every single year level have produced remarkable results. Shared experiences have brought about unexpected connections and lifelong friendships. 2018 has added a unique layer to a long and proud history of St Catherine’s school.
But the present time has one advantage over every other – it is our own! So how do we want to spend our time? Who do we want to be? What do we hope to achieve?
In a valedictory speech given here 15 years ago, the girls were invited to cast themselves as the Director of their own play. They were told that like any good drama production, their life would include the elements of comedy, romance and tragedy along with expected highlights and lowlights. It went on to say: “As actor/director of your own play, you will shape your own important story.. and as your teachers exit stage left, you will remain centre stage and in sole charge of your own performance”. I believe the year 12 cohort 2018 is ready and able to take up the challenge of “completing the script of the next scene” including major decisions regarding “direction, casting, promotion and review” of our play with the sure knowledge that our time at St Catherine’s has shaped and guided the decisions we make as to our exits and entrances”. How true it is that the “leading men and women and our support crew will be significant choices, for the quality of our life’s production will be dependent upon the strength of fellow players.” This year has seen enormous support for each other and from our committed teachers who have been there every step of the way. Finally, the speech stressed the importance of taking the “courageous decisions relating to [our] life’s performances.” I know we can do this!
It seems to me that that the fear of failure and the desire for perfection are inter-linked. Perfection is a subjective and relative concept, and the quest for perfection has the potential to consume us precisely because it is so elusive. Sometimes, it’s as if we become our own drill sergeant demanding that we push all the way to a finish line of perfection that we, ourselves, have created, in races we didn’t even know we had entered, and yet when we don’t achieve this, we are disappointment in ourselves although we can’t even pinpoint why. The notion of failure gathers momentum and may come to define who we think we are. During our time at St Catherine’s we have been encouraged not to be afraid of failure and to look at our experiences through a prism of positivity.
A big part of this is believing in ourselves. As you know, sport has been a huge part of my life at St Catherine’s. Over many years, I had been working on achieving three-strides in hurdles (something my little sister could do with her eyes closed). I finally got it, but during one of my last races this year, so concerned about failing the school and my coaches and so keen on a “perfect” result, I quite literally stopped at the first hurdle, as if frozen, because of self-doubt. Fortunately, I resumed my race and although I was way behind the pack, the clear lesson for me was that we often create or own barriers, that when we forget we have wings, we lose our capacity to fly.
How lucky we all are to be at a school which keeps us on track and reminds us of the things that really matter. I love and admire everything about St Catherine’s. I would not be the same person today without my journey here. Nothing is great unless it is good. It is not merely our school motto but words to live by – beyond the supportive school gates. Our thread of gold and blue is the perfect symbol of what St Catherine’s stands for. Gold represents illumination, courage and passion. It sparkles! Blue, however, represents stability, strength and wisdom. It is beneficial for the mind and the body. It keeps the bad spirits away – including our own. Without the blue, one cannot achieve the gold. Nothing can shine without the blue strength within, without the capacity to be kind and to have faith in ourselves. They must be spun together to create a true St Catherine’s girl. Our Monday morning ode is not just a bunch of words; they have deep meaning.
So, my family of 2018, with the strength of the gold and the blue – we did it! We have completed year 12. Let’s have every faith in ourselves during the upcoming exam period. Let’s remind ourselves that we have put in the hard work and that we ARE capable of doing well but that whatever we do achieve was the best we could do at that time.
And to those of you continuing on the amazing ride that is St Catherine’s, enjoy the journey, and don’t lose sight of the power of your inner courage. Wear your blue ribbons with pride and dignity for you are the spirit of the school and are entrusted with a great legacy. I cannot wait to hear in years to come about the marvelous things you have achieved and to see the women you become.
Thank you, to each and every one of you, for your contribution to this remarkable community.
Thank you, my year 12 cohort, for your support and friendship, for the laughs, for the tears and for the kind words we didn’t realise we needed. Your warmth and spirit have made the common room a home this year. I have had the best journey anyone could have asked for with the fearless team of 2018.
Thank you, Annabelle, for being a fabulous co-captain and sharing this very special journey with me.
Thank you, to all of our teachers, for your help and guidance. Your commitment and dedication have been invaluable.
Thank you Mrs Carroll and the leadership team, for your strong example.
Thank you, parents and the many auxiliaries for the magic you weave behind the scenes.
Thank you for having entrusted me with responsibility of being your school captain. It has been the greatest honour.
And thank you St Catherine’s school for 15 extraordinary years. I have loved every minute of it.
Year 12 Co-Captain