“We have crafted a sisterhood…”

This year’s inaugural Valedictorian has been an outstanding role model to her peers since Year 7. She has demonstrated the Strathcona values of being brave, happy and faithful throughout her years at School. She has excelled academically and is well known to be a student who has always worked as hard as she can in every subject. She has embraced every opportunity to be involved in co-curricular activities, particularly sport, as well as debating and public speaking. Regularly selected as a leader of her peers, she has shown herself to be a kind and considerate young woman who is able to work quietly alongside others to bring out their best. She has always represented Strathcona with distinction and has been appreciated and admired by all those around her. She is an outstanding young woman and well deserves this honour. The Valedictorian for the class of 2019, Claire Boulter.

Below is Claire’s speech she shared with her Year 12 community at Valedictory. “It’s the community that we have created…we have crafted a sisterhood…embrace people…And you do not yet know in what ways you will change” is just a little of the wisdom she shares. Enjoy the read.

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”- Dr Seuss

While few would dispute that a minute is anything but 60 seconds, a year anything but 365 days, and 6 years anything but 2190 days, the speed at which we perceive time to pass perpetually changes. Depending on the circumstance, time moves with us, time competes with us, or time seems to hold us in a state of the interminable present. But in hindsight, time was always the contestant. And the reason that it is only now that we realise how quickly our years together have reached one final night, after six years that no doubt seemed to drag on at times, is because we measure time through the memories that we’ve shared. From our Year 7 Wednesday “friendship lunchtimes”, when we were assigned to sit in crafted groups. To each class’s iconic Live 8 dances. To Year 9, where my camp-to-campus group believed that our journey warranted singing “We Are The Champions”. To Year 10, when our year level united through our love for our favourite Macbeth actor. To Year 11, when ¾ of our year level did Chemistry. And to Year 12, as we celebrated every one of our “lasts”.

It’s the community that we’ve created here that is the hardest to say goodbye to. The ease with which we could walk in everyday to a roomful of our friends, is something that will be greatly missed. In fact, both Mollie and Alannah can vouch for this…can’t get enough of a good thing, can you? We’ve now said our final goodbyes to this routine. The quote lists that we have developed, from moments in which our teachers have let slip something funny- can no longer be added to. The end of racing to that one class where you know your teacher will be on time. No more moments in class when every part of our brains are willing us to stop laughing, but the laughter still manages to escape. And the end of having these 99 girls around you, who you have made an impression upon, to some capacity.

 

Yet, although this nostalgia is particularly poignant tonight, and will undoubtedly return to us as wistful memories in the future, we are ready for what is to come. I think that right now, all of us are anticipating the summer holidays- when we will finally be liberated from studying and have the unbounded capacity to do something new every day. But it is because we have something to celebrate that we want to celebrate. As a year level, we’ve worked hard- in various domains. We’ve looked after each other, particularly during the fragile moments of Year 12. And we have crafted a sisterhood, that, despite our readiness for the future, makes it so difficult to leave.

Of course, it is not only the girls who have made our years at Strathcona memorable. To our teachers, the impact you have upon us as students is resounding. You have instilled us with wisdom, guidance and inspiration. It’s difficult to speak collectively, as each teacher has offered each student something different. But we thank you for your compassion, as well as your ability to inject humour into classes. You will be missed, but as Mr Pargetter fondly told our literature class, “it’s about time we leave”.

To our parents, thank you for investing in us and for dealing with our moody sides. In many ways, we have made this year just as challenging for you as it has been for ourselves. I’m sure that there are parents, like mine, whose daughter gave them strict instructions, to

  1. Not ask about what homework needs to be done
  2. Not recommend that you study when you are not studying, and
  3. Absolutely not ask how we are going

We realise that, at times, we did not make it easy for you. But regardless, you continued to show your support, and for that we are grateful. 

Whatever combination of emotions we feel regarding the completion of our school years- trepidation, excitement, relief- there is huge significance in moving on from life as we know it. Because since we can remember, School has been a considerable constant in our lives. And I have loved growing up with all of you. But although Strathcona features in all of our journeys, each of us have immeasurable opportunities awaiting us. I look forward to the reunions to come. Not just those over the next few years, but those in 10, 20, 30 years- to see which aspects of ourselves endure, and which evolve. But as we go to move forward, it is important that we reflect on the lessons we have learnt over our years together, in order to take this knowledge with us into the future.

I, for one, have only vague memories of Year 7 Claire Boulter. Somebody that I have come to know very well this year, reflected upon our first day of Year 7, as we sat next to each other as per the seating plan. As I perfectly aligned my highlighters along the desk, she looked towards her own lack of stationary, and so, proceeded to ask if she could borrow mine. Though unrecalled to me, I looked down at her empty desk, looked back towards her and responded with a “I guess so”. I continued to act as a sort of repellent as I declared my undying love for Katy Perry and the colour pink, allowing her to justifiably conclude that we were not going to be friends. Yet, lo and behold, five years later, Taylor and I have both incrementally changed enough to spend every literature and French class together, in stitches from laughter. And so from that, I would say, embrace people. Because ultimately, it is the moments shared with others that you will reflect upon the most fondly. And you do not yet know in what ways you will change.

Secondly, I would say, figure out what makes you tick. Over our years here, we have had the capacity to play any number of sports, be a part of drama and music groups, lead others, speak publicly. It is likely that within this, each person has found something which they have a passion for. However, do know that this is not an exhaustive list and that there is more in store for those who pursue opportunities. But learn to recognise what excites you. When you find something that leaves you with a persistent sense of optimism, seek it. But here is a piece of advice that I read once that has stuck with me- do not allow the individual to conform to the goal. Regularly check to ensure that it is the goal which conforms to the individual.

And finally, embrace opportunity, even when it is in the form of a mistake. Though it may be difficult at the time, accept the perspective that failure permits. For me, I look back on the end of Year 10 as one of these moments. In electing my subjects for Year 11, I saw no reason to browse the VCE handbook, as I “knew” what I would be interested in. Needless to say, I did not quite know myself as well as I perhaps thought. Jump forward to Year 11 and Chemistry was not going well. And it wasn’t until Mrs Thom, who definitely knew me better than I knew myself, suggested a move to literature, that I realised maybe reading the handbook was a reasonable suggestion. And in fact it was lucky I heeded this advice, because soon after, I passed my Chemistry exam by 1%, with comments such as “basic knowledge” and “I encourage you to be more strategic”. But fortunately for me, literature turned out to be my favourite class this year. And to the six other girls in this class- although we are a bit of a myth in the year level, we know this is where the fun happened. Thank you for providing endless humour- and I am sure that Petra, Sheebs and Lainy would be proud. So in saying that, I encourage you to draw upon your moments of disappointment, as I would be surprised if you see no value in them.

It is not as if we are saying goodbye to everything. Of course, friendships will persist. But never again will the 100 of us rejoice in shared moments together. Next year, we start from scratch. The character that we’ve built over our years here will be largely unknown to those around us. But nevertheless, we take it with us. Without question, new opportunities will present themselves. And you have all you need behind you to seize these opportunities. So be courageous, tenacious and compassionate. Thank you, class of 2019, for being part of my journey and I wish you all the very best in your own. “Wherever we go and whatever we do, may we always be friends when we meet again.”

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