Celebrating our Golden Year 12s

Over the course of the past week, the School has celebrated the achievements, and farewelled, our Year 12 cohort.

Events such as the Valedictory Dinner, Church Service, Final School Assembly and Speech Night provided us with occasions to acknowledge their leadership and contribution to the School over many years. I provide a small section of my Speech Night Address provided on Tuesday evening:

As our 2016 cohort take their first steps into life outside the School gates we will welcome their return as St Catherine’s Old Girls.

As you prepare for your final weeks as School students, remind yourself of all that you have accomplished, the relationships you have built, all you have learnt and then lean in and build the next part of your story.

What do you hope to return as to your School reunions? What do you want to achieve? Hold on to these aspirations and believe in you.

On the occasion of her first overseas visit, Michelle Obama, the current First Lady of the United States of America, made a memorable speech at a girls’ school in London.

Passionately making the case for every girl to take her education seriously, Ms Obama encouraged young women to reduce the gap between the way the world exists in its present state, and how women know it should exist. She told the students, “in pursuing your dreams, use your talents, be resolute, create the world as it should be, not as it is.”

A young woman’s education is ultimately about a deliberate, measured accumulation of facts, skills and understanding of her own learning. A getting of wisdom, imagination and integrity. This education will prepare her to go on and create a world for all women, as it should be, rather than as it is.

Here you are today, all of you, our School leaders of 2016. You are so ready for this next step of your journey, and we will see you grow in your capacity. You will surprise yourselves with what you can do. And remember as you were so encouragingly told on Sunday night by Mr Tom Cameron, father of School Vice-Captain, “there is no glass ceiling; it’s a glass trampoline for women!”

I will finish with American journalist, Nora Ephron’s words to Wellesley graduates, 20 years ago:

‘Above all, be the heroines of your own life’.

Strong, independent women who lead with wisdom, courage and care for others.

As you leave St Catherine’s, I assure you it is better and far more interesting for your presence.

Be great. Be good. Celebrate You.

On Tuesday evening at Speech Night, the School presented Academic, Co-curricular and Service/Leadership Awards to students in Years 9 to 12. On behalf of the School, I wholeheartedly congratulate each Award recipient for their dedication to their studies, participation in the co-curricular programs and contribution to the School and community through their involvement in service and leadership opportunities. The list of recipients can be found here. Congratulations also to Mrs Janette Matt, St Catherine’s Head of Mathematics who received the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award at the Speech Night, in recognition for her dedication and expertise in the field of Mathematics.

The inaugural Harvard Book Award was also presented on Tuesday evening by Mrs Lisa Ray Hennessy, (mother of Georgia Year 4). Mrs Hennessy is a Board Member of the Harvard Club, Victoria. During her presentation, Mrs Hennessy highlighted the heritage of Harvard University. Established in 1636 it is the oldest institution of higher education in the USA, and has more than 360,000 alumni around the world.

Lisa described Harvard’s unparalleled student experience and a generous financial aid program, with over $160 million awarded to more than 60% of undergraduate students. This was encouraging news for Australian students wishing to study abroad and is also accessible for Australian students, as described on Tuesday evening. Congratulations to Sophie Seng Hpa as the first recipient at St Catherine’s and in Victoria of this prestigious award.

Dr Catherine Ball provided an insightful keynote address at Tuesday's Speech Night

Dr Catherine Ball provided an insightful keynote address at Tuesday’s Speech Night

The audience also thoroughly enjoyed the Address by keynote speaker, Dr Catherine Ball. Her enlightening and humorous presentation emphasised an understanding for our Year 12 girls that there is more than one direction to achieve life goals and ambitions. As a world leader in drone technology and, most recently, recognised as Telstra Business Woman of the Year, Dr Ball’s journey was one of inspiration for our students.

The VCE Examinations commence next Wednesday with the English exam starting a month long period of assessment. On behalf of the School, I wish all our VCE 3&4 students the very best with the forthcoming examinations. Our students have been well prepared and the final weeks of study complete a year long process of working closely with their teachers to achieve their very best.

Michelle Carroll

Mrs Michelle Carroll