Those present in the Snowy Shed for Speech Day 2017 would agree the feelings of excitement, anticipation, relief and nostalgia were palpable. It was the last day of the school year, after all.

One of our school’s newest Board members, attending Speech Day for the first time, commented at the conclusion of the event how it was like looking into the heart of the school.

The heart of our school is our student population.

Leading our school population this year were our School Captains, Indiana Hansen and Joshua Kuner, who stood for one last time on the Snowy Shed stage to deliver the 2017 Oration. It is also at this time that our outgoing School Captains welcome and formally pass on the responsibility of school leadership to the incoming School Captains.

Indiana and Joshua addressed the school community authentically, honestly and, most importantly, with their whole heart.

We asked Joshua and Indiana if we could publish their speeches, and they agreed. Their wise-beyond-their-years-words are as follows.

Indiana Hansen:

“Good afternoon,

Over the past year I have been overjoyed thinking about Speech Day and the freedom that lies ahead. However, now that the ‘what seemed like an unattainable moment’ has actually arrived, I no longer feel overjoyed but overwhelmed, having spent the past few weeks reminiscing over my time at school.

While Snowy Mountains Grammar School continues to grow and update, one fundamental thing has always remained the same since I arrived six years ago as a cautious Year 7 student, known as ‘Bellamie’s little sister’: the closeness and integration of year groups and how it doesn’t matter what year you are in, everyone can be friends from Kindergarten to Year 12. This also extends to all teachers, staff and family members, who go above and beyond.

I am grateful to have had the privilege of growing up here; it has been an invaluable and rewarding experience in more ways than I can express. Having had the honour to be School Captain this year gave me the chance to give back to this school, which has provided an endless amount of opportunities to me, as it continues to provide to all students who are prepared to embrace what is offered and follow up on their aspirations.

School is not always easy and there were times I felt isolated and alone. My advice is to keep the bigger picture in mind. Staying true to yourself is the most important thing above all. If you’re true to yourself you can be proud of yourself and inspire others to do the same. The outgoing Year 12s are a unique group, who have grown together over the years and learnt to accept each other’s flaws and this acceptance has in turn become our biggest strength as a cohort. While we now embark on our own journeys and go separate ways, we will always be linked by our past experiences and the cherished times we had together at this school.

To me, Year 7 was about being a good high school student and finding a different person to unlock my locker every time I forgot how. Year 8 was a liberating year having survived Year 7. Year 9 was my favourite and most relaxed year. Year 10 has the best survivor camp, which breaks down everyone’s sense of fitness and general hygiene. Year 11 is purely a wake-up call. And finally, Year 12 has ironically been the quickest yet longest year of them all. I realise now that the only thing that matters is how you treat people, including yourself. This doesn’t just apply to school, but Year 12 definitely heightens emotions because everyone deals with the year differently, and that’s the greatest part, because you get to learn more about yourself and how much you are capable of.

On behalf of Year 12, Josh and I would like to thank every single individual member of the community who contributes to the life of this school. There are a number of stand-out people who need to be truly thanked and recognised, including all of our teachers who have been with us every single step of the way. It is your commitment that brings out the best in us.

A very special thank you to Mrs Wilson for her dedication, guidance and inspiration as a leader. I’m sure I’m not just speaking for my year but the entire school community when I say how much we appreciate all you have done.

Thank you to our year advisor, Dr Nelson, for always making time for us throughout the year at all hours of the day and night.

Also, we are very grateful to have had the priceless advice and kindness of Mrs West – thank you for always being there. While Mrs West is also leaving school this year with Year 12, we are still yet to find out if she is joining some of us on a gap year …

Thank you to all students of SMGS who have made our last year remarkable, and the very best of luck to the new Year 12s of 2018. And also, a big thank you to Josh, who has from the beginning been a genuine person and one I’m fortunate to have been able to work with this year.

Lastly, on a very personal note, thank you to my parents and sisters for always having my back”.

Josh Kuner:

“Thank you, Indiana. Well, after 13 years at Snowy Mountains Grammar School, I can gratefully say that this will be the last time I will stand before you all. It has been what feels like a very long journey and I haven’t regretted a moment of it. Growing up in such a supportive and compassionate community is what I believe to be lucky, and that is all I have felt since leaving the grounds of Snowy Mountains Grammar School. I cannot express to you the feeling of accomplishment when I finished at our school being School Captain, and I’m sure that Indiana would say the same. It has given me so many opportunities to develop and learn as an individual and give back to a place where I have felt welcomed and accepted for 13 years. The most rewarding part is that when I look around I can happily associate these feelings of respect and admiration towards every teacher and student sitting in front of me. Although there is one particular group that I must thank separately.

To the Year 12 class of 2017. We were a very diverse bunch, to say the least, and I’m sure if you asked anyone who has taught us or been around us, they would say the same. This diversity I think is what set us apart from many other years and we have used it as a strength. As many of us would agree, there were countless times where conflicting ideas and opinions caused a bit of havoc, as you would expect, although it always amazed me how everyone worked around this conflict in order to get the best result for us as well as the whole school. Indiana and I would like to say a very big thank you to our whole year; you have not only made our job as School Captains much more insightful, but you have impacted the whole school community. I would also like to thank Indiana for being the supportive and authentic person she is while we have been School Captains.

One highlight of my schooling career that will never leave me as a kindergarten student was the excitement of getting on the shoulders of a Year 12 and having them drag you through the Berridale pool while every student was cheering you on. I have remembered that moment throughout my time at Snowy Mountains Grammar School and it gave me great fulfilment to be able to drag my Kindergarten buddy, Kaden, through the same Berridale pool 12 years later. It made me realise how much this school has improved and grown through my time here and it excites me to think about what other challenges our school will be able to take on in another 12 years.

Finally, I would like to address the whole student body. On behalf of our year, I would like to say thank you for the constant support throughout our whole schooling career. What really makes Snowy Mountains Grammar School special to me, as Indiana has mentioned, is the boundless relationships that we can form with not only students around our age but with students right down to Kindergarten.

I would like to finish with some of my own advice which I have always believed to be the most influential and significant in my schooling career. Take every opportunity that you are granted, as these sometimes challenging yet gratifying experiences are where you will learn the most about yourself and others around you. As you will find out, at the end of Year 12 you will look back on all the taken opportunities, the ones that have built who you are and brought you much satisfaction, not the ones that you have missed. Thank you.”