On Tuesday 22 November, SMGS held a wonderful celebration at Rydges Horizons for its Year 6 cohort who will be progressing to the Senior School in 2017. I asked Mr Frize for a few thoughts about the evening, and he sent me his entire speech with which he addressed the graduating Year 6 class. He has agreed to let me share a few excerpts with you.
“Parents, Mr Bell, Staff, Josh and Indiana as School Captains, Mackenzie as Junior School Prefect and, of course, the graduating Year 6 class of 2016,
This is a momentous occasion for these seven students and, rightly so, they deserve a fuss to be made of them. Sometimes we are criticised in today’s world for dumbing down achievement by praising our children for things that some may believe to be trivial or not exhibiting real achievement. I would never for a moment place the graduation from Year 6 into senior school anywhere near such a controversial opinion; rather I offer in defence that a night like tonight is indeed a rite of passage for a learner, as is a student’s first day of Kindergarten and their final leaving day of school.
Year 6, we are gathered here tonight to celebrate your successes over the past seven years of your schooling and to recognise that it is very much an achievement to complete this stage of your learning journey. I hope that the evening feels in every way befitting of this wonderful time of your lives.
One of the joys of being a teacher within our Junior School is watching individuals grow; but more importantly, watching individuals grow while belonging to something more and, in this case, belonging to a cohort of peers that are genuine friends. I will not be surprised to hear that in the time that follows these students’ formal schooling, friendships will continue and quite possibly exist for a lifetime. Not every school year group has this bond, but I believe that these students have formed connections with each other that are positive, encouraging and loving. Year 6, I understand that this is a time of your lives when the idea of loving someone other than your family can seem strange or at least awkward, but I urge you to consider your friends as people you can love. Loving people and experiences is what leads to the fullest life possible.
Year 6, you will be subject to many speeches in your time at school and most likely even into your working life, where people will talk to you about success! There is an entire business in self-help centred on success.
At the start of the 21st century, “the self-improvement industry, inclusive of books, seminars, audio and video products, and personal coaching, [was] said to constitute a 2.48-billion dollars-a-year industry” in the United States alone. In 2013, Kathryn Schulz, an activist for encouraging people to get it wrong, and a ‘wrongologist’, examined “an $11 billion industry” in this area (I’ll explain wrongology in a moment!). For this sort of money to be made must mean that there is a lot of literature to read if we want to get success right and help ourselves be the best we can!
I would like to offer you a shortened version of this literature that won’t take a lifetime to read or listen to and won’t make me even a cent of that possible $11 billion dollars that is on offer; and suggest to you that being the best person you can be is centred around the following four themes:
GROWTH – GRIT – GENEROSITY – GRATITUDE
In the spirit of the self-help industry, where all approaches are labelled, I would like to call this the ‘Gee whiz, I didn’t realise that all I needed in life to be successful is to remember these four themes’ approach! Or possibly, more now and appropriate for this generation, the ‘It’s all G’ approach.
1st – Growth – always have a mindset that you can grow in all areas of life. You are lifelong learners and have the potential to continually expand your knowledge about life and all its wonders if you are open to the idea. Grow in knowledge, peace and harmony with others and the world you live in and with it will come wisdom. Wisdom is defined as:
“The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.”
You do not need to be old to be wise, nor a kung-fu master! If you are actively involved in your learning you will reflect on your experiences, learn from them, and grow!
2nd – Grit – Grit may also be referred to as determination. Show grit by persevering and giving experiences in life their best go. I mentioned a term before: ‘wrongology’. Now I am hesitant to believe that this is a word that genuinely sits in the English language; at least my spellcheck doesn’t recognise it! As wrong a word as it may be, I think it has merit in its intended meaning. ‘Wrongology’ is about appreciating that learning happens when you get it wrong. Be prepared to fail, have the courage to keep going and to learn from your mistakes. There is a sporting legend that I grew up with and I am certain that when I mention this person’s name all the parents in the room will know the name instantly. Year 6, you might also know the name, because this famous person has left a legacy for his sport that rivals all the greatest. His name is Michael Jordan: he is the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games, and missed 26 winning shots. He failed over and over and over again. Yet, as a fan and admirer of his talent, I never knew these statistics. I believe it is because he always carried himself with pride and integrity and displayed belief in his own abilities. He had the strength of character to pick himself back up and not be defeated by his failure. He failed loads of times but is still a legend of the game. I am a firm believer in the ‘Wrongology Movement’!
3rd – Generosity – Be generous with all that you have. Love, tolerance, patience, acceptance and kindness are but a few virtues that sit at the core of this theme of generosity. Being generous with material things like money can of course be included in this theme, but it in no way defines what being generous is about. Some may argue that being generous with the virtues that I mentioned can prove to be more challenging in life than being willing to part with some of your money.
4th – Gratitude – Be thankful and gracious for all that you have and let people know that you are grateful. Encountering gracious people in life is one of the more joyous experiences we can have. Know that being gracious is never about hoping for anything in return but simply about recognising that you are part of something bigger than yourself and a good deed should never go unnoticed.
Year 6, as we are studying themes in stories as part of our literacy at the moment, please let me draw the following analogy:
Your life is the narrative, and for a narrative to be enjoyed it needs meaning and must have substance; it needs universal themes that people can connect with. If you incorporate these four themes into your narrative, you will create a story that will be loved by all.
Taking the fourth theme and applying it here, I would like on your behalf, Year 6, to show gratitude to the people in your lives who have provided you with such an incredible start to what will hopefully be a long and prosperous life journey. Firstly, to your parents, I want you to make sure that you regularly let them know how appreciative you are of their love and support … of course, along with the thank you’s that are on offer every day for the lunches made, the drop-offs, pick-ups, deliverings of … , etc. To your teachers, I encourage you to realise the effort that they put into your education and show your gratitude by working hard and engaging with your learning activities. To your friends, be gracious for the friendships that you have and always show them that you care and that friendship is a two-way street.
Year 6, I hope that you have enjoyed looking back on your time in the Junior School through the slide show that has been running tonight and that you leave us with fond memories of your starting years at school. On behalf of us all here tonight, I would like to offer a toast. Can I please ask everyone to be upstanding and charge their glass.
To Year 6, thank you for all that you have done to help in creating a loving and caring Junior School community. We wish you all the very best for next year and beyond, and hope that you will always have time in your lives to reflect on your memories and give back where you can.
To Year 6!”
Thank you, Mr Frize, for letting us share these inspirational words.