Setting Sail

Mark Richards | Director of Learning and Innovation

Endings are the inevitable conclusion for all new beginnings.  As this old year draws to an end, we are already looking forward to when the New Year begins, full of promises, challenges and new experiences. Mitch Albom, author of “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” wrote “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”  It’s a great way to look at endings in our lives; endings are a melting pot of good memories that are seasoned with the unfilled potential of new beginnings and what adventures they may bring.  It is a gateway to a happier and more fulfilled life.

This is particularly true for the graduating Year 12 students.  Embedded in all the celebrations and events of the coming week, from valedictory to the “obvious outing”, there may be a smattering of sadness.  Sadness, because we all take for granted the stable and predictable elements in our lives, such as school.  For these students, SCOTS PGC has been the constant anchor that ensures they do not stray too far from port, instilling the values that will guarantee they can navigate the stormy waters ahead.

This time of year keeps bringing me back to this quote:

“A ship in harbour is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd

For me, it typifies what education is about, as educators we aim to be the lighthouse, creating a safe place for all our students so they can grow, develop and succeed.  However, there will always be the inevitable moment when each ship will have to leave the comforting safety of the SCOTS PGC community and venture onto the high seas.  A great adventure awaits them as they sail away from this controlled environment to one where they are far more at liberty to choose their own path.  The joys of greater freedom and responsibility await and I believe that the College has prepared them well to take on this challenge and change in direction.

I am proud of all the achievements of the current Year 12s, their various successes in a wide range of quests from the great scholarly achievements, to the cultural pursuits of performance and music through to sport. They have willingly and enthusiastically accepted all the challenges presented and grasped the many leadership opportunities, both formal and informal to positively influence the student body as a whole. For that I, and the teaching staff thank them.

They are about to reach a fundamental milestone in their lives.   It is a rite of passage, one which might be characterised by contradictory feelings such as loss, confusion and sadness on the one hand and sheer jubilation, exultation and unmitigated joy on the other.  As parents, you may look back over your memories of their schooling life, you might remember their first day at school, receiving school reports, watching them playing sport or performing in a musical – life is a rich tapestry threaded and stitched together by such events.

I hope the Year 12 students take away the following sentiments and lessons:

  • Life is no dress rehearsal, every moment is precious, take hold of it and make the most of life’s opportunities;
  • You have the capacity to direct your own life; use the tools of love, compassion, humility, respect, trust and above all, service of others to shape your journey; don’t settle for less than your integrity dictates;
  • Be hopeful and optimistic and be willing to accept adversity as a challenge but never be afraid if seeking advice;
  • Be courageous and set yourself goals, many realistic and perhaps some fanciful – you may just surprise yourself;
  • Develop a sense of justice towards others: choose your battles carefully and be true to the values you hold dear;
  • Admire heroes who inspire you.

As I reflect on the recent Rugby World Cup final, listening to the eloquent and heartfelt speeches of the winners, South Africa, I am reminded of one such hero who inspires me; Nelson Mandela. Living a life of extraordinary adversity – 18 years in solitary confinement as a political prisoner he emerged into freedom to become the president of a reformed and racially unified government holding no bitterness to his previous captors, indeed making some of them ministers in his government.  Nelson Mandela said during his inaugural Presidential address: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?’ Mandela is right, don’t lead lives of quiet desperation, don’t rack up a litany of regrets, live extraordinary lives that benefit others. Look to do good and make a positive difference to your communities.   This is the hope I have for all graduates from the SCOTS PGC College.

A Bible verse that epitomises this is:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8

If nothing else, I hope we have been able to teach all our students these values; to aim for excellence in everything we do, with great spirit and respect.  So that now school is no longer providing the anchor in the Year 12s lives, they will not lose sight of the safety of land.  I look forward to hearing about their adventures in the coming years and I hope they return to tell their stories.

‘If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho