Multiple Maritime Metaphors

I hope this Newsletter finds you feeling relaxed and refreshed, if that is how you prefer having your child/children at home to leave you; or, alternatively, exhausted and exhilarated if their presence led to anything from family bungee jumping in New Zealand, downhill skiing in NSW, or competing in the Australian Interschool Equestrian Competition as two of our outstanding young equestrians did, with great success, at Toowoomba Showgrounds.  Either way, Term 4 is here and without a hint of bias, it simply has to be the time of year that is more about Year 12 than any other Year group.

In 1928, the American writer, John A. Shedd published a book of adages, rather intriguingly entitled ‘Salt from My Attic’, from which the most enduring lines are, ‘A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for’.

So it is for our Year 12s who have a mere 7 weeks before they are gently, but firmly pushed away from the familiar security of the SCOTS College harbour wall and off towards whatever future they have mapped out for themselves.  For perhaps most, that means Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Toowoomba; but for others this may be a more local voyage, around the Southern Downs and Granite Belt, or back to regional NSW, or even PNG.  As a youngster growing up on a dairy farm in a fairly remote region of western Britain, I yearned to travel to exotic, faraway places and, being from a family whose ancestors seemed to have shown no imagination whatsoever in their geographical ambitions, I was always desperately jealous that my best mate had family ties in Canada and New Zealand.

Denied welcoming relatives to host me as I explored the globe, I had to settle for travelling via fictional tales such as ‘The Coral Island’ and ‘Treasure Island’; it seemed always to be tropical islands, the Pacific, the Caribbean; warm, sparkling, turquoise seas and palm-fringed strands of brilliant white coral sand; and pirates!  This obsession is better understood if one considers that where I grew up 2000 mm of rain a year was commonplace, and any summer day exceeding 20 degrees was declared a ‘heatwave’.

You will imagine my utter delight when flying out to Lady Elliot Island last week, 120 km north of Hervey Bay and at least 75 km offshore from the nearest part of mainland Australia, my phone’s local weather app briefly provided me with the forecast for ‘Coral Sea Islands’ before it lost all signal…….I truly considered myself to have achieved one of my most cherished childhood ambitions. Any emotional upwellings were soon replaced by faint nausea, however, as we circled low over the 500 metre-wide island to check the grassy, crushed coral runway was clear of bird life, or an errant eco-tourist, before a bumpy and very memorable landing.

For our Year 12s, whether ambitions are local or global (and that may change at the drop of an unforeseen hat) there will be so much to excite, surprise, delight and inevitably confound and challenge them as they contemplate the leaving of SCOTS.  While ‘place’ is one aspect of these changes, people are arguably even more significant.  Friends and family influence decisions; then maybe partners, and before you know it our graduates might well be wives/husbands and eventually even parents!  The voyage will hopefully have much in the way of crystal-clear, tropical seas and temperate tradewinds, but there will always be more difficult times too; life’s muddy estuaries and rocky coastlines to navigate.

We hope your children will leave feeling that SCOTS has looked after them well.  Even if not as Valedictory Dinner’s songs, tributes and reminiscences fade into the evening, then perhaps as they look back in months and years to come?

For some, school is a trial and only rarely a treat and a triumph.  Sadly there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ educational institute.  Having said that, I am convinced that SCOTS staff do know your children remarkably well.  Everyone is aware that being at a small school, in a regional town does allow every young person to find a successful niche and be that fabled ‘big fish in a small pond’, as former College Captain Grace Hardy commented, after her first few dizzying weeks as one of Queensland University of Technology’s 48,500 students.

We sincerely hope that our students leave us confident and competent to handle the deeper waters that await, with the wonderful opportunities that they will bring.   While they won’t always feel like the biggest fish in the ocean, we trust they will be adaptable and creative, resilient and determined.  Not a whale shark, but perhaps at least a bottlenose dolphin or yellow fin tuna?!


David Proudlove – Head of Senior school and Acting Principal