Honesty and passion equals success

On Wednesday 15 February 2017, Strathcona presented awards to the top 15% of achievers from the Class of 2016 in front of proud parents, students and staff. Each awardee in attendance shared her strategies for success, ranging from keeping busy to maintain moment and not being afraid to ask for help, to being compassionate towards yourself. Excerpts from the inspiring address, given by Madeleine Lodge (’16) appear below. 

I am greatly honoured to be representing our school Dux of 2017, Aixi Li, who was unable to attend today’s ceremony.

Now if I took anything away from the wonders of 1/2 Economics it would be the understanding of the truly devastating and detrimental effect that problem gambling has on the individual and wider community – it is for this reason that I am not a betting woman. Although if I were, I can tell you that I would not have put my money on myself, Maddy Lodge, to be delivering the Dux’s speech today.

In my whole ten years at Strathcona I never won an academic award or received anything higher than a participation prize in the ICAS maths or science competitions. In fact I would like to begin with a quick disclaimer – girls, I am not a “smart person” but rather more of a “smart worker” who learnt that determination and focus can help you to achieve the outcome that you are seeking.

The motivation to succeed and being successful is different for each of us; we are each driven by a unique set of goals and aims within life. High school is a time of monumental self growth in which you discover part of the person that you inevitably will become. For me, school and particularly VCE taught me that honesty is always the best policy. It is important to be honest with yourself to ensure that you do the subjects you are passionate about – not merely because they mark up or sound smart. Often, when telling people that my subjects included drama, theatre studies, literature and history, I would more than likely be met with a deep exhale as they realised that I was one of ‘those people’ – a drama person. But the subjects that I did in Year 12 reflected my passions and interests; I found each of them genuinely intriguing which motivated me to work hard because I wanted to.

VCE is also the time to be honest about the hours that you put in. When balancing a number of co-curricular activities you learn quickly that quality is far greater than quantity. I found that doing sport on the weekend or after school musical rehearsals forced me to use my time wisely, as every minute is vital. And even if you only have 30 minutes until you’re going out to dinner or Grandma’s coming over, make a start on something – you will thank yourself later. Be honest with yourself when you are struggling or need assistance. Never be afraid to ask for help, I can guarantee that every single teacher wants to see you succeed and they will always be willing to go the extra mile to give you the help that you need. At the end of the day, if you can honestly say that you tried your hardest and put in your best effort then ultimately success will come to you.

Upon reflecting on my time at Strathcona I consider myself extremely lucky for having gone to a school that offers so many opportunities to try new things. In order to get the most out of school it is imperative that you take every opportunity that comes at you with both hands. There is no better way to feel a part of the school community than to involve yourself amongst it. When you’re in amongst the thick of it, school can seem like a never ending road of assignment after assignment – but the reality is that school does end eventually, so make the most of it while it lasts.

To the year seven and eights I strongly encourage you to give new things a go and to get involved within the school community as much as possible – there’s no harm in trying. To the year nines and tens take the time to start to realise the subject that you truly enjoy and excel at. To the year 11s and 12s – never doubt your ability to surprise yourself. Work hard and work honestly. You are each capable of achieving greatness and remember that it is never too late to prove others or yourself wrong – “don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon”.

Although I am now secretly hoping that school blazers come into fashion so that I can sport my brand new academic stripes – in all sincerity, success isn’t sought after for the pats on the back or gold embroidery, it stems from the knowledge that you tried your hardest and made use of all resources and opportunities on offer in order to seek your full potential and fulfil your criteria for success.

Congratulations to our highest achievers in the Class of 2016: Eleanor Forwood, Madeleine Grimsey, Le Guo, Aixi (Elizabeth) Li, Alexandra Linehan, Madeleine Lodge, Olivia Lucarelli, Annabel Marks, Hannah Murphy, Briana Pappalardo, Kiren Sandhu, Madison Sorrenti, Zoe Tilley, and Yunfei (Effie) Zhang.

Strathcona wishes Madeleine the best of luck for the Top Class Concert (Part of the VCE Season of Excellence 2017 presented by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority) on 2 March at the Melbourne Recital Centre, where she will be performing her performance exam solo from VCE Drama.