“Like many social phenomena, COVID-19 did not create the impetus for change, it merely shone a light upon what was already there, which could be accelerated and amplified.” David Price, 2020
This quote by world renowned educator, David Price could not be truer. In many ways, this pandemic has been a little like ‘lifting the lid of the meat pie and seeing what is inside’; our vulnerabilities and strengths have been laid bare. MGGS was able to pivot to remote learning because of the structures and expertise in place. The increase in speed and magnification has held us in good stead in 2020 as we continue to navigate through VUCA times (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). It is so nice to finally have every year level back on campus and although some cohorts are incomplete with some students still in their homes or overseas for various reasons, the School feels together again. I was such a happy Principal to see our Years 8, 9 and 10 students finally walk through the gates today. These last cohorts have had it the toughest. With a full campus we will remain proactive, agile and vigilant in ensuring the safety of our community and that of all Victorians by the contribution we can make to ensuring healthy practices and understanding within the community around COVID-19.
Parents are the glue for our School and this year I have watched them become co-teachers in support of their daughter’s learning. Our Parents Association is guided by an amazing group of generous parents led by our inclusive and warm President, Tammy Read. Congratulations to the Committee for their appointments for 2021-2022. At the final Parents Association Meeting for the year, I was reminded of the positivity, kindness and can do attitude this group brings to our community. Thank you to our Heads of Auxiliaries and our Parent Reps who give countless hours of volunteer time.
As you know our School’s history is currently being written and there have been some gems turning up in our archives. Thank you to our School Historian, Ms Pip O’Connor who has retrieved this amazing quote from our records. In 1928 at a special dinner for the School’s 25th birthday celebration, 6th Principal, Miss Gilman Jones recalls:
“I think the parents are the backbone of the School…I appreciate the fact very much that a Parents Association has just recently been formed to help the parents and the teachers to know each other better, because we face two different sides of the same problem. You know your individual child better than we know her, and yet perhaps in some ways we know her better than you, because we have a more impartial standard of comparison.”
I could not agree more, parents are the backbone and it is the partnership between school and home that sets students up for success. Thank you to our Parents Association for providing all our Grammarians with love and support and for the generous gift they have organised for each Year 12.
Our Valedictory season that is usually celebrated by significant events to mark the rite of passage of our Year 12 Grammarians, is very different this year. Even with the restrictions in place, it has been impressive to see our Year 12 students come together on campus in COVID safe ways to celebrate their time at the School.
On Sunday 25 October we came together for our Boarders Valedictory Chapel Service in the Chapel of St Luke to farewell our Year 12 Boarders and acknowledge their hard work, achievements and contribution to the life of the School. We thanked our Year 12 Boarders for their role modelling for our younger students and for the joy they have instilled in our school. The Boarding School has been their home away from home and a place where they have grown up. A small group of our Boarders have not been home since January and they have shown incredible resilience. Ours is one of the very few Boarding Schools in Melbourne that has remained open during the pandemic, and I thank our Director of Boarding, Amanda Haggie and our Assistant Director of Boarding, Dimity Harris for the thorough and careful way that they have safely managed this and supported our Grammarians.
As we are unable at present to meet in whole year levels, we group in Houses to farewell our Year 12 students today. We use this time to acknowledge and farewell in a hybrid model, of real time speeches and pre recordings from our younger students and staff. We celebrate the hard work, achievements and contribution to the life of the School by our Year 12 students and welcome them as young Old Grammarians. It is an opportunity to thank Year 12 for their role modelling for our younger students and for the joy they have instilled in our School. When we can, in 2021, we will hold a Valedictory Picnic with the parents and staff.
Year 12 students receive their Year 12 reference, a chosen book, a gift from the Old Grammarians Society and a keepsake reflecting their motto for the year, ‘2020 Vision’. My memories of Year 12 in 2020 will remain vibrant – how could I ever forget the special moments of pride I have felt of this cohort. Together they have shared moments of joy, exhilaration, optimism as well as pain and struggle. Year 12 stand connected through the web of experience, strong relationships with each other, their teachers and alumnae. I wish to thank the entire cohort for their fine contribution and legacy to the School. They have modelled tremendous resilience and spirit. We wish them well as they head into the VCE examination period and I know that they are well prepared. As the front runners of our unique Senior Years Program they take with them a sense of confidence, openness and aspirations as defined by their education.
In closing, we know that literacy starts early, and as last week was National Book Week, MGGS was in full swing honouring our favourite books and the creatures and people within, from Early Learning through to Year 12. For me as Principal, it was joy of joys to be part of the Barbara Tolson Book Week assemblies when our youngest Grammarians dressed in character, with their favourite book in hand and were interviewed by a unicorn in a blond curly wig, otherwise known as our stellar Ms Margaret Sellar, Head of Early Learning. They were more than Grammarians, they were scientists, mice, cats, wolves, fairies, mermaids, princesses, gum nuts, warriors and inventors. Imagination and creativity have an important place within these red brick walls.