Good morning everyone: Students, teachers and other members of the community.
I feel extremely privileged to be able to talk on behalf of the 2020 cohort and their great achievements.
I wasn’t too sure how exactly to go about this speech. However there are a few things I attempted to keep in mind when writing this out; one of them being the fact that most students tend to zone out during this part of the assembly. Another being, no one really wants to again hear about how resilient the whole covid-19 ordeal made the 2020 cohort. So with that in mind I will do my best to keep this short and sweet for the benefit of everyone here.
To begin, I wish to shed some light upon the notions of success. I do advise everyone that in no way, shape or form am I attempting to inspire; rather share the lessons I learnt upon success throughout my years at the college, particularly during the senior years. I feel almost fraudulent standing up here as the epitome of success, when, in actual fact success is naturally subjective. There is no singular meaning of what it is to be successful, and I think the school does an exceptional job of acknowledging this premise and its many facets.
Essentially the point I am attempting to garner is that your schooling journey is inherently yours; what you want out of your time at Edmund Rice College can only be decided by yourself. I am not going to stand up here and say that everyone can achieve a high atar if they set their mind to it as that is unfortunately false; yet this does not limit how successful you can be. While I stand before you as Dux of the school, there are in fact multiple stories of success which individuals in the 2020 cohort have achieved. Whether that be apprenticeships, cadetships, scholarships or simply achieving early entry. My advice would be to set a goal or general direction of where you wish to be when you finish school which should be rounded upon the basis of what you personally believe is success; what you believe is attainable, and what you think is worth while striving for. The main point you should gather from my little spiel, is that you do not have to fit the mold of what is typically defined as success. Find your own way and do what you enjoy; success will follow.
Here at Edmund Rice, you are gifted with every opportunity to achieve. From the extracurricular activities to the library and the general learning environment; it is actually fairly hard to not achieve here if you have a good go. Before I continue, I do wish to apologies for the cliche dux speech which is about to unfold, however, most of which I am about to say is common knowledge in regards to being successful; it is not just some elusive entity that only a select number of students can achieve. It will of course require hard work, resilience and all that generic kind of stuff. However it also requires yourself to take charge of your own learning. As I mentioned earlier this journey is solely yours and no one can set the destination other than yourself.
What became increasingly apparent as I moved into the later years at the college is that the teachers are simply not going to spoon feed you. The classic example I can think of is Mr Booyar-Ryback’s typical response to all questions; “Well what do you think?” While at the time it was somewhat insufferable and extremely frustrating, in hindsight it is easy to see how valuable teaching in such a manner was. In fact, in a rather paradoxical sense, it was the teachers that provided less answers and more questions, where I found myself achieving the highest. This essentially prompted me to gain control over my own learning which I encourage all the senior students to do. Within the senior years, common excuses such as “we did not learn that” are no longer forgivable, as chances are you will be sitting the HSC exam regardless of what you learnt and what you have not.
However I must admit that the atar is simply a number, and no one person is to be defined by a numerical system. The most valuable asset you can gain from your time at Edmund Rice College is the friendships you develop as well as the life long skills, values and ethics you gather along the way. I do not mean to be pessimistic, but, the HSC year is definitely not a particular highlight for myself. There is a lot of stress and anxiety attributed to the sense of the unknown and what lay before you outside these four walls. The best piece of advice I can present for you all today is to take it day by day; do not get bogged down in the future; do not exit the present moment to address future concerns which may not occur. As I mentioned, there are many doors to success, and they are not all opened by this number you receive at the end of year 12.
In continuation of the cliche dux speech, I have numerous individuals to thank of whom I am indebted to in regards to my achievements. To Mr McDonald, Mr Booyar-Ryback, Mr Gray, Mr Sozio, Mrs Woolnough and Miss Gazzola. I would like to thank you all for the hard work and numerous hours put in to ensure I achieved highly in the HSC; this thanks of course extends to all the teachers I have had since year 7 in my time at Edmund Rice.
To my mates who always got me through the tough times and made my time at Edmund Rice extremely memorable; I would like to thank you all.
Lastly I would like to thank my family; Mum, Dad, Thomas, Daniel and Adam. There is no way I could have achieved the atar I did without the constant support of my family; I am forever grateful.
As promised I will wrap this speech up as quickly as I can. Goodluck to all of you, in particular the current year 12’s. Do your best; that’s all anyone can ask of you and I sincerely hope you all enjoy the rest of your time at Edmund Rice as I did.
Thank you all.