Dear Parents & Carers
This week we farewelled our Year 12 students. Our Mass on Tuesday night was a beautiful acknowledgement of the faith life of our College and on Friday we held our Graduation assembly. My Principal’s Report for this final newsletter for 2017 is my speech I gave at the Graduation Assembly -
Bishop Michael Kennedy, Bishop of Armidale, Fr Sabu, Mr Chris Smyth, Director of Catholic Schools Office, Armidale, Mrs Sharon Wittig, Principal St Mary of the Angels Guyra, Mrs Leanne Thomas, President of P & F, Parents, Friends, Staff, students and our graduating class - Year 12 2017:
It gives me great pleasure to speak to you, our graduating students today. I have known many of you since preschool and kindergarten (remember when we did science experiments together), some of you I have only met this year and of course one I have known all his life! I told you when I spoke to you at the start of this year that I was so pleased that you would be the Year 12 class of my first year as principal of O’Connor. I have watched you grow in your learning and in your approach to life throughout this year and many years, and I am happy to give this address to you and your family and friends as you enter the next phase of your lives; a step into a world which I hope you will find exciting and fulfilling.
Remember that although we farewell you today, you still have your HSC exams to go! Study hard, give it your best shot so that you can look back knowing you have tried your hardest. When the results come out be pleased with all you have achieved. Don’t be defined by your results or your ATAR, recognise that they are a means to an end and be proud of all you have achieved in your thirteen years of schooling.
Teenagers and young people today get a lot of bad press - they're always on their phones, social media is destroying their brains, they are not connected to society, they won’t participate, people despair about our future. None of this is really true and as evidence for this I give you the Graduating Class of 2017.
When I look at this group of students, I don’t despair, I have hope and what I know is that the future is in great hands. Let’s look at the people we have in this group and see if you despair.
We have a student who represented the United Nations in Timor Leste
We have students who have completed Industry qualifications including diesel mechanic, nursing, banking all while completing their HSC
We have students who organised and raised money for local cancer charities by shaving their heads
We have a student who represented youth at the highest level nationally in science
We have students who have represented NSW in various National sporting competitions
We have students who have worked tirelessly for betterment of women in developing countries through their work with our Z Club
We have students who willingly give of their time to visit Autumn Lodge and Stroke recovery to brighten people’s days
We have students who have been members of our Vinnies group from Year 7 organising many Winter and Christmas Appeals
We have navy and airforce cadets willingly giving of them time in service of others
We have learners who are always striving to do their best
So should we despair for our future or should we have hope? When I look at these young people I am full of hope, I see our future leaders, mechanics, artists, nurses, musicians, builders, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, but most of all I see a group of people who are ready and able to participate fully in our society and make a difference to the world we live in.
The theme the students chose this year was BE. They have truly lived this motto by the work they have done this year and they have BEEN and continue to BE great people with a good sense of fun, a strong sense of social justice and the ability to learn. There is a famous quote that everything I learned I learnt from Dr Seuss, I don’t agree with that by the way, but I love this line from the book ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
How exciting, frightening and challenging! Year 12 2017 I feel confident that you will go on and make a difference to the world. Be courageous, be brave, make mistakes and dust yourself off for the next adventure. There is nothing wrong with aiming high, and failing; but there is waste in failing because you didn’t try in the first place. So dare to dream.
In today's world we hear a lot about happiness and how we should all strive to be happy. Don't strive for happiness - strive to be challenged, to argue, to stand up for what you believe to be right, to have fun, to laugh, to cry. You have to experience sadness to know what happiness is. Your best of times will be when something is hard and you get through it, not when it has been easy. It during these times you will recognise what happiness is. In St Paul’s first Letter to Corinthians he says ‘But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way’
It is during the hard times when I know God is there. One of my favourite prayers is Footprints. The prayer begins with a person looking back on their life. They notice that there were two sets of footprints where the Lord and the person walked side by side, but found that in sad times or hard times there was only one set. The person thought that God had deserted them, but the prayer ends with:
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.”
In hard times know that you are not alone, not only do you have your family and friends you also have your God. You are truly founded on faith.
When you look back at your times at O’Connor I hope you look back with great memories and remember that you will always be part of the O’Connor community . A community founded on faith and focused on learning. As you leave O’Connor:
Accept there will be setbacks along the way, but rise above them.