It is lovely to see all of our staff and students back from the term break. Our Year 12 students are currently sitting their HSC exams and I know the students and teachers all really appreciate the way our community respects and supports the students by being quiet when moving around the exam rooms.
Friday was World Teachers’ Day and I would like to acknowledge our wonderful teaching staff for the dedication and genuine, deep care they have for our students. Many people don’t see the hidden parts of a teacher’s life, the hours spent planning and marking, the extensive preparation that goes into every Main Lesson, the night time and weekend phone calls and emails, the deep and often challenging conversations and actions around student wellbeing and constant reflection and revision teachers need to do to keep their practice current and relevant to their students. I would like to take this moment to sincerely thank all of our teachers. I would also like to take a moment to thank the families of our teachers as they give up some of their important family time so that the teachers can do their work – with night time meetings, night time and weekend planning, marking and report writing and extended absences for camps and excursions.
In the last week of term, I delivered the Principal’s address to our wonderful 2019 graduating class. The text of the address is included below for your information.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that today we are holding this special ceremony on the traditional lands of the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation. I would like to honour and pay my deepest respect to the Elders who conducted ceremony on this land in the past, those who still do today and those who will continue to care for this land into the future. Australia’s first nations people are amongst the oldest known civilisations in the world. They undertook the first great sea journeys of exploration and developed a culture of deep knowledge and connection with the land that has endured longer than almost any other in the world’s history. We are all held in the cradle of this knowledge and connection and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities this brings to us all.
Thirteen years ago, you started your school journey. For most, kindergarten was a place of warmth and love, a little bit like home. Then you moved through the primary school: bright colours, songs and games and rich imaginative stories of fairies and gnomes, Celtic princes, Viking warriors and Greek Gods. You made friends and learned how to read, write and calculate.
Then, into High School and your friendships deepened as your intellects awakened and you came to some new understandings about yourselves and the world around you. You developed skills to think critically, to question and analyse and to see things from a range of different perspectives. You began to exercise your faculty for making judgements and taking responsibility for your decisions.
Now here you are at the end of your formal schooling, about to graduate and step out into the world. When the first Steiner school opened, 100 years ago, it was developed out of a desire to create a new social impulse – a new way for us to live together in the world. If ever we needed that new way of being, it is now. With political systems in disarray, our natural world in great peril and humanity experiencing increasing discord and isolation, we cannot continue as we are. I take this moment to acknowledge that the challenges we face were created by the generations that came before you.
This said, my message to you today is not one of doom and gloom. It is a message of hope. You have had the benefit of an education towards freedom of thought and it is just that freedom which will light the way forward. I look at you and see young people who are socially aware, who care deeply about moral and ethical issues and who will create change in the world.
I encourage you to go out and create the world as you would wish it to be. Wherever possible, walk for a while in the shoes of others. Seek to understand, rather than to polarise. Never be ashamed of caring deeply, for other living beings and for our planet. Walk with kindness in your heart and try to see the world with patient clarity. Have courage to speak out when you know something is not right. When you don’t understand, ask and ask and ask again. There is great power in being able to question.
Give of yourselves and find joy in being of service to others. Cherish the connections you already have and reach out to make new connections at every opportunity. We best experience our own humanity when we are in relationship with others.
Don’t forget to pause occasionally and see the great beauty around you. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass, climb a tree or swim in the ocean. The beauty of our natural world will always bring you to a feeling of home.
Your education at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School has finished, my wish for you all is that you can go on to fulfil the highest, truest expression of yourselves as the wonderful human beings you are.
Now is the time for you to rise… rise and be everything you can be, who you are meant to be. Rise to be a light in the world.
Rise and go now to live this one wild and precious life.
Farewell to the Graduating Class of 2019 our love and blessings go with you all!