Dear Canterbury Community

I wanted to share with the wider school community my speech and slides from last night's Valedictory.

Good evening to our graduating class of 2019, parents and family, current and past staff members, Mr Jeff Thomas, Chair of the Canterbury Board and Board members.

This is undoubtedly a great event, a great location and a fitting end to Year 12 for our 113 graduates this evening.  You might think that as your Principal of only 8 months that I might not know a lot about you. And this might normally be true, but like many of you over the past two weeks, I’ve been hitting the books pretty hard. My study routine has consisted of every Yearbook since 2006, newsletters, Head's speeches and published articles through each of those fourteen years.  I’ve pulled some all nighters, drunk my share of Red Bull, V and coffee and now feel like I know you guys pretty well.  My research findings, I present to you tonight as my Principal’s tribute to the class of 2019.

And so, Year 12 students and families, I want to take you on a bit of a time travel journey this evening. It begins in 2006 for 10 of you and 2007 for 9 more, with stopovers in 2013 and 2014. These were of course Kindy, Prep, Year 6 and Year 7.

Your story started as one class of Kindy in 2006. Your teachers were Miss Hawkins and Mrs Bartlett. There were 24 of you in that class. 10 of you graduate tonight as Year 12s:
Tia, Noah, Abbey, Isabella, Georgia-Leigh, Matthew, Jackson, Ethan, Samuel and Tyson.

You painted, sang songs, built make believe rafts, created make believe dragons, read stories and had adventures.

You were joined in 2007 by 9 more 2019 graduates:
Ethan, Alexandra, Kyle, Sophie-Louise, Sophia, Inderjeet, Zachary, Jackson and Hamish.

As the first full year of full time Prep in Queensland, you began some actual academic learning in 2007 – shaping up numbers, letters, some spelling rules, craft activities that tested your gluing, threading, stacking, colouring, painting and glittering.

You grew to two classes in Year 1, taught by Mrs Wharton, Mrs Graham, Mrs Dinsdale and Mrs Jeisman. I know you were able to catch up with them earlier in the week for a special dinner. You were joined by:
Natalie, Jesse, Courtney and Georgia.

Jason was the only student to join your group in Year 2.

The theme for 2009 in Year 2 was, I found out, “It’s Beastly in Year 2” – there were masks made, investigations into animals, puppets, insect and reptile projects – scorpions, lizards, beetles, even I see a special guest into Year 2 who brought insects for students to hold and touch. In August of Year 2, every student participated in the Science Expo day, where you presented your own experiments with plants, magnets, electricity and water. Grandparents Day was also held for Year 2; you visited the CSIRO and the Botanical Gardens.

Rianna joined you in Year 3. In Year 3, Dean of the Junior School Mrs George was joined by Assistant Dean, Mrs Garforth. Your teachers in 2010 were Mrs Gold and Miss Carlson. You enjoyed an at-school space themed overnight stay, visited the Beenleigh Historical Village for your major excursion and participated in a spelling bee, Premier’s Reading Challenge and like you always did, dressed up for Book Week.

Another visit to the Botanical Gardens in Year 4, but a highlight that year was your camp to Maranatha on the Sunshine Coast. You experienced many cool things like Possum Pull, Rocket Ball and Low Ropes. Some of you described it in the year book as “an experience we will never forget.” Your teachers, Miss Layton and Miss Green welcomed the following new students into your cohort:
Tiffany, Lachlan, Meena, Caleb, Taylor and Ellie.

2012 was the year of Canterbury’s 25th anniversary. The following students joined your group that year:

Marouna, Gorkem, Harrison and Sarah.

Your teachers, Mr Littlefair and Mrs Lyle, guided you through your second NAPLAN experience. There were the dreaded ‘puberty talks’ for all students. You had a four day camp at Tyalgum Ridge Retreat and the great Gold Rush excursion, including dress ups aplenty. You had your first year of JTAS sport and I know for a fact that some of you definitely made a stir in your first year of sport for Canterbury: Kyle Cossor in AFL, Taylor Mosterd and Sophie Louise Mathieson in Basketball, Ethan Robertson in Cricket, Georgia Clipperton in Netball, Marouna Henry in Rugby, Jackson Ramsay-Heathcote for Soccer and Jackson Currie in Touch.

In 2013, the Junior School Captains were Georgia Clipperton and Noah Rooney. The Vice Captains were Declan Prain and Tiffany Woods.  Humanitarian Captains Kyle Kossor, Hamish Kabel Pluck and Samuel Christian Greenwood organised fundraising collections for Easter Eggs for aged care facilities, Jeans for Genes Day, Bandana Day and the Christmas Appeal.  The Canberra trip was I’m sure a highlight of Year 6. Seven more students joined your number:
Alexander, Alexandra, Madison, Lara, Mike, Amarni and Liam.

You were the first year of Year 7 in Secondary School in Queensland. Although Canterbury had chosen long before this that Year 7 was part of our Middle School. Your Year Coordinator in Year 7, who also looked after you in Year 8, was Mr Sauer and your other form teachers were Ms Paterson and Ms McLeod.  In 2014, your group was joined by:
Jordan, Regan, Jake, Georgia, Lucy, Keagan, Adrian, Sheeha, Cindy, Jean, Christopher, Alexander, Innes, Joel and Jayash.

And in Year 8 by:

Belyse, Hamish, Amy, Declan, Bogdan, Hue, Georgia, Paige, Demi-Rose, Stella, Benjamin, Kate, Baxter, Ziggy, Nicolas, Wade, Chelsea, Emily, Miyu, Abigail, Arya, Zara, Caitlin, Ayden and Tyler.

Middle School Captains and Vice Captains in 2016 were Georgia Kelly, Sophie Louise Mathieson, Hamish Kabel Pluck and Lachlan Adamson. Your Year Coordinator in Year 9 was Mr Hillier, then Mr Shepherd and he was joined by your Form teachers Ms Waide, Ms Moore and Mrs Clarke. Hue Do was awarded with the Middle School Dux prize. The CIA (Community In Action) projects in 2016 were built on the theme “community”. On this culminating day, Junior School parents and grandparents visited your rooms and activity centres in classrooms.

Joining this group in Year 9 were:
Matthew, Annie, Chloe, John and Ben.

In the year of Canterbury’s 30th anniversary, you were joined by:
Vicky, Sam, Lucy, Shaun, Montana, Heidi, Chesda, Tim, Joe, Gloria, Catherine and Summer.

And last year by:
Kandi, Mayki, Bruce, Piper, Konah, Jackson, Ainsleigh, Benjamin, Jayden, Amily, Connor and Stacy.

This year, Harley and Finnis joined your number.

Some final words from me before I close – in this room tonight are 113 people who will go on to achieve wonderful things in their life. You will work hard, study hard and do your best to make your way in the world. But you know that this will not always be enough. Sometimes there can be lots of effort and not a lot of luck. Sometimes things don’t pan out the way that they should. Injustice and unfairness is part of life.  Merit is a very important concept at school, but not so significant in your life as you move through some workplaces. You will work for bosses who are difficult, with co-workers who can’t play the team game. You will be passed over for promotion and this will be difficult to stomach.  You will make and lose dozens of friendships and connections.

But what I hope your time at Canterbury has taught you is that good people with strong hearts who value others ahead of themselves are needed in the world like never before. And please don’t mistake my overall message about the world as one of pessimism. It is not. The world is still wonderful. You will fall in love, some of you will have children and they will surprise and delight you in ways you could never imagine. You will travel Australia and the world, seeing the most wonderful things and meeting remarkable people who will change the way you view the world. You will study and go on to professions and jobs that you couldn’t have imagined at age 17. You will run successful businesses – there will be millionaires and probably billionaires sitting in this room. There are scientists, engineers and humanitarians, nurses, teachers, plumbers, salespeople, architects and designers, chefs and goodness knows how many other jobs that don’t even exist yet. Yes the world has sadness and yes, of course there is unfairness and inequality that makes everything more difficult. But it is for the most part, wonderful – the world beyond school is magnificent and you will thrive when you find your place within it.

I can assure you that the next month is going to feel a bit strange to some of you, even those sitting in front of me who have already moved on from school in their heads. I will remind you that your OP or Selection Rank does not define you as a person. An OP or Selection Rank is a functional mechanism designed for tertiary entrance.  From the day you set foot in your job, or walk into the first lecture theatre at Uni or TAFE, your OP becomes functionally irrelevant. Do not dwell on it. As you know very well from conversations with Mrs Colette Naicker during the year, you can open plenty of doors by using a host of different strategies.

Having said that, January next year will feel strange when you’re not coming back to school. For those going to university, February will feel strange. It’s okay to feel a little bit uncertain about your next 12 months, no matter how well you have it planned out.  I hope you feel that in small ways and in big ways that you have been known, appreciated and understood by your teachers over your years here, whether it has been 1 year or 14 years, and that you have left with no regrets. Please know that you will always have a place in the story of Canterbury College and that every teacher and staff member here, including me, wishes you all the best for happiness and success in your future.

Mr Dan Walker