The exact date is lost on me as I commenced Kindergarten at the beginning of Term 3 in 1956, in the years of the three term year.
I am not sure why my start was at that time but it was certainly my introduction to a lifetime of school involvement. Three of those years were during my study to become a teacher and the rest as a school student, teacher, Senior Primary Teacher, Principal and various roles in two Catholic Schools Offices.
This week well over one thousand of our students will complete 13 years of school education as they leave our Secondary schools to prepare for their Higher School Certificate examinations in early Term 4.
Whist it was a long time ago, I can still recall quite vividly my last week as a Secondary student at Marist Brothers High School, Hamilton in 1969. My classmates and I were expecting to finish on the Friday along with most other schools but our Principal decided to finish us up on the Wednesday, without much notice. This was to ensure that any school break-up antics were kept to a minimum. I couldn’t recall any plans for such actions but welcomed the extra few days for exam preparation.
It is a very different scenario this week for our current cohort of Year 12 students. Their final week of school will involve special celebrations including Graduation Masses, special assemblies and Year 12 award presentations. It will also involve a rite of passage for the student leaders who will pass on the mantle of responsibility for leadership to the new Year 12 cohort who will commence their Year 12 studies next term.
Whilst I will not be able to attend all of these graduation ceremonies, I know that ,at those which I do attend, I will witness an out pouring of appreciation and affection by the students for the teachers and support staff who have guided them through their final year of school. There will also be recognition from the staff of the contribution these students have made to the culture of their schools, not only in this final year but throughout their time at their school.
It is particularly special that the ceremonies undertaken this week will have a religious and spiritual dimension. Being able to incorporate the very essence of our Catholic Schools into this final stage of their journey reminds us of the very purpose of our Catholic Schools. To be able to recognise the special nature of this end of school life in a way that reflects the very purpose of Catholic schools is something very special about Catholic schools.
As a Christian community we gather with students, staff and parents to give thanks to God for these young people and for all they have done to give expression to the teachings of Jesus during their school years. As Catholic school communities we will pray that over the next few months and in the years ahead that they will embrace the challenges that the Higher School Certificate and life in general will present, knowing that in Jesus Christ they have a model for life that will hold them in very good stead.
To each of our students I offer my congratulations on reaching this milestone in their lives and I wish them every success in the months and years to come.