Class of 2020 Farewell Speech

Class of 2020 Farewell Speech

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

I thought it appropriate to quote from my fellow countryman to address you today, Charles  Dickens, the Tale of Two Cities.

Year 12 has been the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.

You are the oldest in the school, you are the leaders, the ones without uniform, the ones with the most responsibility, the ones other aspire to be like.

But it is also the worst of times. You are the Coronnials, the graduating students who have faced the pandemic. You have had disrupted schooling, you have had a Year 12 like no other.

You are not alone – our Prep children have faced their crucial first year of schooling with months at home, online learning that can never replace face-to-face in what is most likely the most important year of schooling, the first, when the foundation blocks of literacy, numeracy, classroom socialisation, school play, are all built.

Yet, like the Preps, you have faced this adversity with positivity, with creativity, with resilience, and with a ‘can do’ spirit.

So as you look back on your schooling, today is not just a celebration of your Coming of Age in leaving school, but it is a celebration of your entire schooling journey. Your kinder, your primary journeys. Your Year 7  and your Bnei journeys. Your middle schooling. Your Zio Sem and your Chavayah, your Year 11 and yes your Year 12 experience.

And you have shown so well that you can celebrate without being destructive or disruptive, and as our school lines up in a Covid Safe way to salute you and farewell you, they will look at you in an aspirational way. They will say to themselves, I want to be like that.

And that is a legacy for you to be proud of.

Today we give the Regan Millstein Awards for sport, in honor of dear Regan, forever a member of the Bialik family who passed so tragically ten years ag. We are renaming the upper hockey court the Regan Millstein Court and we hoped to do this with Regan’s family and you, but with the pandemic and the restrictions on schooling, we are not permitted visitors and we will do this in a different way.  But I do want to acknowledge Regan, his family, his sporting and menschlich and communal legacy, and know that he is not and never will be forgotten.

So what is to come is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.

You will have freedom – of time, of movement, of choice. Things will be easier. The examinations that you sit at university will be, generally, marked by people who know you and set by people who teach you – there will be greater predictability of outcome. And you are standing at the edge of the next stage of your life. Not the factory of school, not the pre-ordained path from kinder through to Year 12 but about to walk your own path, make your own footprints.

Soon, once travel is permitted and life returns to normal – and it will, at some point –  you will be leaving the embrace of security, of home cooked meals, of on-tap reassurance and the expectations that go with your freedom will rise. Ten years ago you were at school. In 10 years many of you will have children, lifelong relationships, the responsibility for the care and love for others, not of others.

The best of times and the worst of times.

You will have knocks along the way, you will have doubters and you and you will have failures.

But welcome to the next stage of the rest of your lives.

In 10 years time where will you have been? What will you have seen? What will you have done? If we could map the countries you will visit on a map, think of the pins on the globe. If we could list the skills you will develop, the expertise you will have in areas from social work to architecture, from community building to law, from teaching to construction – what a list!

And there is one thing that will sustain you for your adventures. One thing that you can always rely on, that you can always refer to, that you always call upon.

And that is each other. You have been through the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. Your year level has seen birth, health, happiness, success – and you have seen bereavement and disappointment and sadness.

But your friendships, your care and love for each other, have and will sustain you.

Today may well be the last day you are all together. When we organise grauation events for you – and we hope to – not everyone of you will be able to attend – so enjoy today, savour it, relish it, and keep making it positive, and communal, healthy and kind.

You now have your examination season. The best of times and the worst of times await you, but stay together, support each other, laugh together, have a sense of perspective together, and your relationships will be the innoculations, the vaccinations, to protect you and sustain you throughout your lives.

So here we are. On the cusp of VCE and on the cusp of the next chapter of our lives. This is a poem by Nicole Guyette:

Everyone should believe in angels
They surround you everyday
They help and protect you
Love and care for you
They try not to let you down
But even angels make mistakes
Do you believe is angels?
I do
I call them my friends
They do all the things an angel should
They make you laugh when you’re sad
Make you feel better when you’re sick
Stand up for you when you’re tormented
Love you when you feel as if no one does
Doesn’t that sound like an angel
To me it does
Everyone needs an angel
At least one good one
Or your life isn’t complete
And won’t be
Till you find your special angel.

Students, we all have our demons. Our fears, our paranoias, our lonely times and our melancholic times. But with friendships, we have our angels to help us through. Look around the room and reflect for one minute on the angels that surround you, the best of people supporting you during the worst of times.

The video we played for you first this morning was put together by our Bialik College Foundation. It had our Class of 2019 saluting you and celebrating you and you may have noticed a new logo – the Bialik Old Collegians logo. You are now transitioning into the warm embrace of a new image, growing out of our school and into the world. But we are here for you. Stay in touch. Come and work for us whilst you study – in sports, in Student Services, in maintenance – and well see you over the years as community members, as friends, as parents and grandparents, as Bialik Collegians and soon old collegians.  

Class of 2020, be healthy, be happy, be kind, be connected.

Good luck.

Jeremy Stowe-Lindner

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