On Friday, 27th September, the SMGS community gathered in the Snowy Shed for the 2019 Year 12 Farewell Chapel.

Memorable moments from the service included the lighting of the 8 candles, each one representing an aspect of student life at SMGS, the ever-entertaining ‘Words of Wisdom’ presented by our Primary School, the portraits of each Year 12 carefully crafted by their Year K-2 buddy, the Staff Speech, Year 12 Speech, Principals address and finally the Honour Arch.

Mrs Sue Sell, Dean of Students (Years 11 and 12) gave the Staff Speech this year. The title of the speech was ‘Eaglets, Yeast and Balloons’. The full speech can be read below: 

Good afternoon Dr Bell, Mr Jones, staff, parents, friends, students and our guests of honour: Year 12 2019.

It is my honour to speak and farewell the class of 2019 on behalf of my colleagues.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that a group of you – Charles, Campbell, Saskia and Anastasia – were joined by the newbies for Year 7: Jess, Eve, Ambrose, Tilly, Bronte and Texas. You were standing around the outside of the Shed looking very small and timid (and in beautiful school uniform) and wondering ‘Where do I go?’, ‘What do we do now?’ That was your first day in Year 7 in 2014. This group demonstrated a wealth of potential and just when they thought they got the ‘pecking order’ sorted, more students would join the year group and they too brought a wealth of talent, creativity and determination that challenged the others.

In Year 8 Jack (Machin) joined you, with James and Charlie in Year 9. The biggest influx was in Year 10: Lulu, Ellie, Ed, Josh, Jamie, Shev, Sarah (Jansen) and Jack (Herrmann).  With the start of Year 11, Sarah (O’Brien), Lucy and Alex linked in and completed the cohort.

Year 12, you are a fantastic group of young people, each with your own strengths.  I want to leave you with three things to ponder as you finish here and prepare for life on the ‘outside’.

  1. Eaglets(baby eagles)

Eaglets are a lot like Year 12.  As chicks in the nest, you are safe and provided for. Your parents and staff have looked after you, cared for you, trained you and ultimately want you to fly. You may think that eaglets get ‘pushed’ out of the nest. But this in fact is not correct. Eaglets leave the nest and start roaming on nearby branches, practising hopping, landing, and building up their wing strength by flapping.

Eventually the young eagles scavenge and learn to hunt for themselves. It takes time. It doesn’t happen on the first go.

Year 12, this is you. You are starting to get the wing strength built up by persistence and practice. You have challenged yourselves to improve in academics; you have learnt to understand others’ perspectives and worked on friendships; you have had to work to deadlines and pressure.

At no point in time, will a parent or staff member ‘push you’ out of the nest if your wings are not ready to hold you up.  (But I have not confirmed that with Mr Ross!) They will, however, be encouraging you to build up strength so you can fly.

  1. Yeast

Yeast, Year 12, is ‘influence’.

Yeast is a wonderful phenomenon.  It permeates lifeless flour and causes it to rise and expand.  The power of yeast affects the brewing of beer and the making of wine.   The yeast plant is a fungus that grows without limits to its borders.  

As we meet here and farewell you, Year 12, think about YOUR influence.  Just as yeast has the power to make flat bread rise, what influence can you have upon the world around you? Just a little smile could make someone near you feel valued and cared for.  Offering to help someone, even if it might mean rejection. Thanking a shop assistant for their help. Looking after a friend’s pet when they go on holiday. Cleaning up your room even when you don’t want to.

They are the little things.  What about the BIG influences you can have on the world?  What is it that you dream about?  Can you make a difference? 

The power of influence goes beyond one person. Look at the example of Greta Thunberg at this week’s Climate Action Summit.  She is one small person having a big influence.  That’s yeast.   Yeast is a tiny organism.  It has BIG influence. 

Year 12 – what’s your ‘yeast’ going to be? How will you influence your world?

  1. Balloons

Think about a balloon filled with helium.  If you let it go (not that we would, because of its environmental impact), there are absolutely no limits for a balloon filled with helium. That is, unless you tie something to it – then it is impossible for it to reach the sky – it cannot reach to its highest level.

That balloon is ‘potential’.

What is your potential?  What will you do to allow your potential to ‘fly’ unhindered – just like the balloon?  Hope, inspiration and motivating yourself are ways you can cultivate your potential. Hard work, perseverance and determination are other ways.  The resilience to keep flying, even when the wind blows you in a different direction. Don’t give up. Don’t allow yourself to be weighed down by a sandbag or weights that stop you from reaching to the sky.

Your life is waiting for you to live it to your fullest potential.

What’s happened in the past, you can’t change, but YOU have the power to change your future.

Year 12, as you finish here today, my prayer for you all is that you:

  • Know you are loved, supported and cared for by many of us – just like the eaglets.
  • Are aware of your influence – just like the yeast – what will your influence be?
  • Don’t let ‘stuff’ weigh you down and stop you from developing your potential – be an unhindered balloon.

Thank you for the journey we have shared, and the memories you have created for us at Snowy Mountains Grammar School.

Go and be amazing!

Thank you.

The image gallery from the Farewell Chapel can be viewed below: