Principal’s Valedictory Speech – 13 November, 2018
Dear St Edmund’s College Family and Friends
“Tonight, we celebrate an important milestone. It is the culmination of 12 or 13 years of formal education and specifically the fulfilment of the senior years of secondary education. This year we have 168 Eddies’ young men graduating. Soon they will farewell a familiar life here at St Edmund’s College and begin a new chapter in their life. Whether it be further study at University or TAFE, employment in a trade or within an industry of their choice, or an interim next step that is a combination of both, we wish them well as they approach a new horizon in their life.
At the beginning of the year the Year 12 Seniors gifted us the College theme – Run with the Eddie’s Wolfpack – Dig a Little Deeper. The second part of the theme - Dig a Little Deeper – is a deliberate reference to the Aussie Diggers of World War I and the fact that 2018 marks the 100th anniversary when the War ended in 1918. A snapshot in time of Australia in 1918 tells us that the population then was just over 5 million, the average life expectancy was around 55 years of age, and an average day’s pay was about 11s and 6d or the equivalent of $1.40. This was the year when Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones was born, South Sydney Rabbitohs won their fourth NSW Rugby League premiership, South Melbourne Swans won the VFL and Nightwatch won the Melbourne Cup.
And of course, in 1918 The Great War ended and for many Aussie Diggers and service personnel it meant they could at last return home after three long years of fighting on the Eastern Front in Turkey and the Western Fronts in Belgium and France. Sadly 65,000 Diggers would never return which would equate to 5 in every 100 adult Australian males living in Australia today. The Great War dominated the lives of Australians and especially so when the soldiers and service personnel returned.
We know that the wounds and scars that the returned soldiers carried did not dampen their desire to rebuild their world and make something of their lives for the betterment of others. The camaraderie, mateship and brotherhood that sustained them in the trenches and on the battle fields came home with them and would become characteristic of our Australian identity. They were adventurers when they signed up and they were still adventurers when they returned. Their frontier now was their homeland, where they would recommit to their community as a civilian rather than as a soldier. It is this spirit, a yearning to be good citizens, shaped by mateship and an adventurous heart, encapsulated in the theme created by our Year 12 students, that speaks to us about their character and the gift they have been to Eddies in 2018.
Their character can be further understood in the re-telling of three innocuous encounters this year. Earlier in the year Dylan McColl politely asked me why nicknames could not be emblazoned on the back of their Year 12 jerseys. I asked Dylan what nickname he wanted on his jersey. He said without blinking – ‘Big Dyl - that’s my nickname, Sir’. Once I explained why it was unsuitable, Dylan was okay and thanked me. Here is revealed a kind of likable larrikin innocence that is a common trait of our Seniors of 2018.
On another occasion during our ANZAC assembly, a Year 12 student penned a thoughtfully worded email to me about my address to the assembly. He rightly pointed out an error in how I described the horrors of war, which I corrected at the next assembly. Here is revealed a feistiness for truth and justice that we have often seen among our Seniors of 2018.
And lastly, during the Term 3 Dance, towards the end of the evening a concerned parent came to ask me to come into the hall to see what was happening on the dance floor. I did not know what to expect and thinking the worst, was totally unprepared for what I saw looking down from the mezzanine. Below were over 500 students, being led by Cooper Ward, in a huge circle dancing the Hokey Pokey. Here is revealed an inclusiveness based on having fun together and not worrying about being too cool. This is so true of our Seniors of 2018.
Year 12 - we will remember you as the likable larrikins with a passion for truth and justice who know how to include others and have fun together. We ask you to remember that from this day on your heart will bleed blue and white and that you never forget that to have an Eddie’s heart means:
- Having a heart for those in the shadows, those who have fallen on tough times and those who have been treated unjustly
- Always being a chum to your Mum and a lad to your Dad
- Belonging to a brotherhood and knowing that to be a brother to another is a noble and good thing
- Pursuing excellence in all endeavours and seeking to be challenged and open to learning new skills, hungry for new knowledge, to be well informed and in-touch with your world.
- Knowing to be a strong man means being kind and gentle
- Understanding the importance of community and the powerful role you have in serving your community
- Being guided by ‘The Golden Rule’ - to treat others as you would like to be treated
- Feeling part of something bigger and knowing that you can and do have an integral role in contributing positively to your world
- Knowing that you have received an education in a place of faith and glory, where God who made you mighty makes you mightier yet
- Always being a child of the Edmund Rice family, defined be the four Touchstones of Liberating Education, Gospel Spirituality, Inclusive Community and Justice and Solidarity
- Living a life with a belief that ‘I can’ because you see you can.
Year 12 – Graduating Class of 2018 – your year of graduation will forever be enshrined as the 100th Anniversary since the end of The Great War. Never forget that you are an Eddies man, that you are among a fellowship of brothers, and that in the words of Blessed Edmund Rice himself – ‘One thing you may be sure of, that while you work for God whether you succeed or not, he will amply reward you.’
Congratulations Graduating Class of 2018.”
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Diarmuid O’Riordan, Principal
VALE Seniors of 2018
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you,
May God hold you in the Palm of His Hand.