From the Principal: 20 March 2023

From the Principal: 20 March 2023

It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you must displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them. — George Yeoman Pocock

The opening quote is for our rowers who were triumphant this season. It is from the famous Daniel Brown 2013 non-fiction novel ‘Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics’. In 2023, we have the largest cohort of rowers in our history, and over the weekend, we witnessed the full strength and energy of Melbourne Girls Grammar culture as our community gathered on the banks of the Barwon River to cheer on our Grammarians. The Merton Army was in full flight! 20 of this year’s 22 crews made A finals and from those, we won 18 medals – 10 gold and 8 silver. 

The recent launch of our book ‘Lines of Flight’ was a historic occasion and a fabulous way to celebrate our School’s 130th anniversary. I was honoured to bear witness to the special event. We were thrilled that our special guests, author Professor Erica McWilliam AM, Foreword author, Dr Amanda Bell AM, text historian Dr Mark Cryle and their families were able to join us.

Our School has a rich and beautiful history, and this text was first imagined early in my tenure. As a new Principal, in my earnest approach to learning about every part of the School and reading every book I could get my hands on and with my conversations with OG and School Historian Pip O’Connor (Farrer 1965), I knew we needed a book for our 130th anniversary in 2023, and I knew who I would ask to write it, and thankfully Professor McWilliam said “yes”. The rest, so to speak, is ‘history’.

Melbourne Girls Grammar is a great School, a scholarly School, and it deserves this granular level of inspection and for our past to be put on the record. This is a book about the heroic endeavours of our community, our alumnae and our staff. The narrative invites our gaze to the very interior of who we are. It is beautifully written, and the chapters are exquisitely titled. Strong student voice has always been a part of Melbourne Girls Grammar. I love that the book begins and ends with student voice. In the prologue, the voices of our Grammarians contemplate what our School might have been like, and then in closing in the Epilogue, our students contemplate where the school might be in 70 years.

However, my favourite chapter, titled “Trim, taught and tested”, is about our teachers.

Heartfelt gratitude to those who were part of the production, including Robyn McCutchan, Pip O’Connor, Helen Moylan, Eliza Crookes, and Georgia Maley. Thank you to our School Council, who supported this endeavour. Deepest gratitude to our Year 10 French horn players, Maggie and Cecilia, who provided entertainment on the night and to our fabulous Captain Audrey and Vice Captains Zoe and Charlotte for leading the proceedings.

The Year 12 Father-Daughter Breakfast on 16 March at The Terrace, Royal Botanic Gardens, although early, was a treat! Our guest speaker, Andrew Westacott, the godfather of Year 12 student Lily and Old Grammarian Georgie Gough (2022), gave a thoroughly engaging speech with lots of dad jokes thrown in! Andrew is the longest-serving CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. Thank you to all involved!

I hope that you are enjoying our beautiful Melbourne autumn. Our city has really turned on the best weather for our visiting Canadian scholars from the Bishop Strachan School, Toronto. There have been so many activities planned and enjoyed, including horse-riding, hot springs, trips to Sydney, Phillip Island, the Great Ocean Road, sightseeing and enjoying the café and restaurant culture of vibrant Melbourne. This intrepid group was also visited by the Canadian consul to Melbourne, Sophie Galaise, on Friday 17 March. Thank you to our families who are hosting. The generosity of spirit you have shown is amazing.

I hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming events, especially Celebrating Clarice Beckett on 3 April. We are privileged to host historian Dr Edith Zeigler, author of The Worlds and Work of Clarice Beckett, who will speak about acclaimed artist and Old Grammarian Clarice Beckett (1904). The beautifully illustrated presentation will focus on the artist’s family, influences and the places which provided inspiration for her paintings. 

Join us for a presentation by Dr Edith Zeigler, followed by a Q&A and cocktail function. The Worlds and Work of Clarice Beckett will be available for purchase on the night. 

We all have so much to be grateful for!

Yours in learning,

Dr Toni E Meath