Watch Sam Gibson’s Graduation Address to the College…
Good morning Mr Zavone, staff, parents, Year 4-11 on livestream and of course, the graduating class of 2020.
Today marks a significant milestone in the lives of all us. For us boys, we have finally reached that illustrious day referred to as graduation, where we move on from school forever. For our parents, some of you may be seeing the first of many children graduating. While for others, the young man standing in front of you today, is the last child you will ever have to pay school fees for. And for our staff members, you are seeing the product of your care and nurture. A work in progress which has lasted the entirety of 9 years.
With this being said, it would be amiss of me, not to look back and reflect on how far we have come. For some of us, we began in February 2012, in what has begun to feel just like yesterday. For me, I can still remember being shoved out the front door with my older brother and arriving at the front steps in absolute awe of the tall, green pillars which have forever become a symbol of St Edmunds. This would then lead to an introductory speech from former Principal, Mr Fullagar. He told us, in 9 years’ time, in the year 2020, we would graduate from the College. I remember sitting where you are all sitting today and thinking that was a lifetime away. In hindsight, I couldn’t have been any more naïve.
Walking through the front office that day, I would have never thought that St Edmund’s for the next 9 years, would become my second home. A theme that I’m confident holds true for the 95 other young men a part of the graduating class of 2020. Our first few years at Eddies were characterised by discipline and hard work. Qualities the junior school has become synonymous with. We were immersed into the Eddies culture which included camps to the beloved Tuross, playing sport for the blue and white jerseys and participating in annual events such as market days and Founder’s Days.
Soon, we would be pushed into the deep end of high school. Similar to essentially all the stereotypes surrounding this part of school, it was daunting. We were once again at the bottom of the pack with little to no understanding being shown to us by older year groups. It is this part of our schooling journey which I believe truly contributed to the resilience we formed as a year group. We realised, respect is not a given, but rather you have to show respect to receive respect. We participated in house camps and house sport days which would contribute to forming the house camaraderie we see today.
Before we knew it, we were members of the senior school. We exchanged our plain blue blazers for those with a white pinstripe hemming. Although a seemingly minimal change, these blazers represented much more than our school. They represented both the men who walked the halls before us and the history of this great place. By wearing these blazers, we were placed with the immediate pressure of being a leader, regardless of choice. It is all these things, with the addition of countless others over the past 9 years ,that have directly led to this moment.
Now, we must look towards the future. A future where we need to prepare ourselves for a rude awakening where this College will no longer be a place where we spend so much of our time. A future where we will learn important life lessons accompanied by a degree of pain, grief and disappointment. A future where we will soon realise that there is a lot more to learn than what we already know. We will certainly find out that the life is often not fair and that terrible things can happen to good people. But fortunately for us, our parents and teachers have guided us to be a group of young men capable of assuming adult responsibility immediately. We will be capable of handling the routine challenges of life without making us risk adverse or riddled with fragility and anxiety. To our parents and staff, we thankyou.
During this year, I have had the profound pleasure of leading the College. This means I have had a first-hand experience of seeing all the great things that happen here. In particular, I have been proud of the spirit and goodwill that this class has been responsible for in the life of the College. This, rich tradition we have, permeates the fabric of this great school in many real and tangible ways. Together, we have achieved extraordinary things, and this has filtered into many areas of the St Edmund’s flavour locally, nationally and internationally. Together, we have also proven our diversity and encouraged the idea of being different, which has greatly contributed to building the structural integrity of our cohort. Together, we have been suitable demonstrators of mateship but, as we embark on the next great adventure of our lives, the dynamics of our mateships will change forever. What will never change however, is the strong sense of mateship and brotherhood that I am certain, will always be silently present among the St Edmund’s class of 2020. All of this to me, reflects our positive direction as a group of young men. Most significantly though, is that we have done this together. No individual achievement can ever compare to what we have accomplished together, as one-year group.
Now I believe a long list of thanks are in order. Firstly, to the people who have been a part of the journey that is our lives, the whole way through. Our parents. We will never understand the financial stress and sacrifices undertaken by our parents, until we have children of our own. The unselfishness and unconditional care that you have offered us, has held us in good stead for the next phase of our lives. When we were toddlers you led us from in front, as we matured you stood beside us and held our hand. Now we are young men, eager to begin whatever is coming next and we can confidently say that you will always be behind us, watching with pride. So, on behalf of all your sons, thank you.
Winston Churchill one said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”. If we can all live by this, we will all be successful people in my eyes. This now flows into a thank you for our staff members who are living examples of this quote. Over the course of our time here at Eddies, I’m sure we often made you question your decision to become teachers and tested your patience on more than one occasion. At times as a group we made poor choices – but you stood by us. You helped us to understand the power of restoring things when we got it wrong. We will be forever grateful for the academic help we received, but more importantly the nurture and care which transformed us into the people we are today. Again – thankyou.
To our boys themselves. This journey at St Edmund’s has been nothing short of remarkable. We have had our fair share of ups and downs, but this has only contributed to bringing us closer as a year group. We can also argue that we couldn’t have been more unlucky to graduate in the most unconventional year possible. Thank you for all the memories and friendships that I have made with you, I will cherish them for the rest of my life. To all the boys in Year 4 to 11 who are watching the livestream – you have so many opportunities awaiting you here at Eddies – go hard at them and remember to be kind to one another.
I would like to conclude by saying what sums up Eddies for me. It was something my older brother Jack, said shortly after graduating back in 2014. Although Jack began at Eddies halfway through year 5, he told mum, “your biggest mistake was not sending me earlier”. He realised what I am beginning to realise. We are only here for a limited time and some of us are here longer than others. But the time we have here is precious, and although we can wish that we had more time, we simply cannot take back the past. We have had our time; it is now our turn to move on.
Thank you for the opportunity to lead St Edmund’s in 2020. It has been an absolute honour.
Edmunds to the fore.