The Start of a New Journey

As the Year 12s finish their VCE exams this week, it has been an opportunity to reflect on their 13 years of school and their Year 12 experience.

The Year 12 girls completed their academic year by attending the Year 12 Valedictory Dinner, book ending the year with their parents and classroom teachers. This provided the opportunity to hear from Ruby Smith, Valedictory Speaker for 2016, who reflected on her life at St Catherine’s and the experiences she and other members of the cohort have experienced together. In working with the Year 12 girls over the last two years, their work ethic is exemplary. In reflecting on their Year 12 year, my words from my Valedictory speech were as follows:

You are about to embark on a new journey. A journey that you have been working towards your entire School life. Do you remember in Prep, dreaming of what you wanted to be? A doctor, teacher, famous singer or an architect? Or in Year 7, when you enjoyed seeing the celebrations of the Year 12 students on their final day of School. I can still remember those days, and I am sure your parents remember your dreams and aspirations, as clear as if you said them yesterday. 

This is our time to celebrate with you. Each and every one of you has worked hard, studying in the common room, or your favourite spot in the Upper Library, classroom, or at home. Your work ethic has been exemplary. The culture of working hard and supporting your friends is synonymous with your Year group. Throughout the year, you have generously given yourselves to those around you, and as one Year 12 reflected “We have a culture of celebrating the achievements of others”.

It seems so long ago when we were at Ormond College for the Leadership Conference at the beginning of the School year. This was also a time, when we commenced the year with a celebratory dinner with your Year 12 teachers. It is fitting that we now conclude the year with the same teachers, celebrating your achievements and the journey that has been Year 12 and the final journey of your School life.

However, this journey has not just been the 192 days of Year 12. It is a culmination of the last 13 years of learning, growing and developing in mind, body and spirit. A journey where you have had the constant support of your parents, the guidance of your teachers and friendship of your peers.

This year, as your first day commenced with the presentation of your Blue Jumpers, we watched you wear them every day, even in the heat of summer. Such is the pride all our Year 12s have in being a St Catherine’s girl, and wearing the colours and jumper that symbolise you have made it. You are the School leaders, you are now the girls the Year 7s admire and aspire to be, that you yourselves once were.

Whilst supporting you through these times, I have reflected on the maturity and composure that you have all exhibited in preparation for your SACS, Orals and those weeks where there were many assessment tasks to prepare for, whilst rowing on the Yarra, preparing for the musical or practising for the Gala, in addition to your regular weekly activities. This dedication and commitment to your goals, and willingness to dig in and work hard will provide you great success as you proceed into the next chapter of your lives.

During the holidays, I spent time reflecting on your cohort from Prep to Year 12, by looking at the photos that have been collected over the years. For Gemma Chan, Georgina Cheale, Serena Clark, Frances Curtis, Cassie Doyle, Sophie Francis and Georgie Gleeson, your journey began in the ELC, here at St Catherine’s.  You are all a part of the St Catherine’s Community, with friendships that have grown and developed over your time here. The memories and experiences that you created, will be with you forever.

Your time at School has generated significant bonds and friendships with those around you. These connections will be with you forever. During your School life, you have seen your friends everyday, you laugh with them, cry with them and celebrate with them. Whilst these wonderful people, with whom you have shared the last year of School with, may not be there every day from now on, those connections will always be strong and can easily be reconnected.

Author A.A.Milne, famous for his thoughts on friendship says;

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

Whilst you may be walking out of the gates of 17 Heyington Place for the last time as a student, you will always remain an enduring part of the St Catherine’s community and our School’s history. This year, our School’s 120th, we have celebrated and honoured the women who have made our School what it is today. I have no doubt that all of you will aspire, achieve and make a difference in your own worlds and make us all proud of the powerful women you will continue to become. 

Mrs Gina Peele, Director of Student Programs and Dean of Year 12