Unlocking the future with the keys to the past

Mrs H Boltman, Head of Gibson House


The immortal words of the Beatles, ‘You say goodbye and I say hello’ speaks to the feeling of this week, the last week of School for our Year 12s. The girls have now come to the end of their time at Brisbane Girls Grammar. Those fresh-faced girls are now ready to leave us. They have grown and matured into fine young women, ready to face the world and take on the challenges of adulthood. As they take their first steps of independence, we need to look forward and see how we can support them in their futures.

As teachers, we have spent many hours preparing them academically, and it is always interesting to note how much of our academic lessons the girls seem to remember years down the line, and how much of the person and the values they remember. I am not suggesting that the academics are not important, they are of utmost importance. Without the rigour of our academic programme the future would not be so bright for our students. What I am suggesting is that part of the gift we as teachers give to our students, is ourselves. We model to them how to think, how to work, how to relate and so much more. These implicit lessons along with those of their parents will go towards making the student who she is in the future.

As parents, you have invested your time, your hopes and your dreams. You have helped to mould your daughter’s character and helped her to establish her own identity. Many may now say that rest is up to her, but as you know, your role will not end here. Your daughter will still need your support, she will still need your understanding and she will still need your help. However, what she may need most of all is the space to develop her independence. As she takes on the adult role she will make decisions for herself, she will make mistakes and learn to correct them, and to live with the consequences. As parents, it is surely the ultimate aim to see our children grow into mature adults who can survive and thrive without us. We will be there for them, ready to catch them when they need it, and ready celebrate with them as they gain independence.

To our Year 12 students I address the following thoughts.

You have spent the past few years honing your academic abilities. You are well prepared. The foundations have been laid. In time, your hard work will begin to pay off. As you enter your chosen courses or careers, it is timely to think of those who helped you on your way. You did not do this all on your own, nor will you be able to forge the path ahead on your own. We all need support and encouragement.

You have just spent an amazing week preparing to farewell the School. Your time at Marrapatta was a wonderful experience. We watched you relaxing with your friends, spending time with those who are precious to you. You have had fun and a time to relax. You all put so much effort into your dances and this showed at the Informal Assembly.  It was a wonderful way to say farewell to the rest of the School in a relaxed setting.

The week continued with the Valedictory Dinner. As Ms Julie McKay, Executive Director UN Women Australia (alumna 2000) gave the Valedictory Address, there were a number of points that resonated with me. Ms McKay summarised that you have been at school for twelve years, and have each come so far since that first day of Year 1. She asked ‘Where will you be in twelve years’ time? What will you have done with your life? Will you have made a difference? ‘ Her point – that you are the only person who can change your future, so lean on those four things that Brisbane Girls Grammar has taught you – was a powerful one. She spoke eloquently about the importance of leadership, courage, a passion for learning and kindness. Ms Mackay’s advice, to make the small changes that can impact on the lives of others, changing them for the good, was something we should all try to remember.  I particularly liked the way she challenged us to take the chance on someone else, never stop learning, academically and experientially, and above all, to be kind.

This week will culminate in the Annual Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony. As each of you walk across the stage, your teachers, your parents and your friends will look on with pride and a sense of fulfilment. You have made it. You are ready to embark on the next phase of your life. As you leave Brisbane Girls Grammar and look ahead, the School will always be there. It is a part of who you are and who you will become. It may seem as though you are leaving, but I see it as transitioning: transitioning to the future you.  You are not saying goodbye, you are saying hello to the future. A future you, your parents, your friends and the staff at Brisbane Girls Grammar all helped to build.

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