There is a special chemistry in the air when Graduation Week arrives. It is a time to acknowledge and thank the graduates for their leadership and valued contribution to school life, most of whom walked through the gates as 10 or 12 years olds in Year 5 and 7, and now leave as men. Today is one of the highlights of the school year with House Assemblies to frontload formalities, followed by the Valete Assembly, the Graduation Mass and the Graduation Dinner. While the latter two events will be conducted later this evening in the Dalton Chapel and the Ramsay Hall, respectively, Graduation Week began with the Memoriale Assembly on Monday, which was addressed by former School Captain and father of current School Captain, John Gray (OR1981). John spoke with passion and insight about his years at the College and how that prepared him for the post schooling world and a career in law, and, how the educational program provided the values that have served him throughout his life.
At the Valete Assembly earlier today major awards were presented, those that have been part of the graduation calendar for generations. In 2017, the following students were the recipients of the awards:
- Insignis Medal: Andy Du Pont
- Dr James L’Estrange Prize for Ignatian Service: Jack Calderan
- Michael Cunich Prize for Excellence of Character: Jesse Gray
- Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement: Jesse Gray
- Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement: Charlie Hoffman
- Shore School Centenary Prize for Senior Day Student: Ben Leotta
- Gordon Oxenham Prize for Year 12 Division Boarders: Liam Hurley
Congratulations are extended to these young men who have been popularly nominated by staff and peers and whose achievement across the year has been particularly meritorious. The boys who won Prizes for Subject Excellence are also to be commended for their commitment to scholarship and for the manner in which they have contributed to the culture of learning at the College.
Other events featured across the week such as the Co-curricular Assembly – the last for the students in the Graduating Class, and, the Long Tables Dinner for boarders and their families which re-enact a tradition that reaches back generations. In the case of the former, the boys who have excelled in their chosen pursuit over the winter were honoured with awards. As is always the case, the breadth of activities is exceptional with the popular sports such as Rugby, Football and AFL, through to those which don’t attract large numbers but are important for the boys who find interest and engagement in them. To the coaches, managers, staff, parents – and most importantly the boys, a statement of appreciation is extended for the contribution that so many different members of the school community make in order to give the boys such life giving pursuits that promote team work, skill development, fitness and community.
For boarding families, The Long Tables is one of the very significant rites of graduation for those who have spent many years in residential living at the College. As part of this ritual, so important in its own right for those who live in distances far from Sydney – either rural NSW, from across the states and territories of Australia, and from the different hemispheres of the world, parents came to celebrate and acknowledge a group of boys whose growing up over the last six years, has been predominantly at the College. There was a profound mixture of both celebration and sadness as they boys come together for the final time, reminiscing about the years that have resulted in so much growth and independence.
The glitz, glamour and generative energy of the AAGPS Athletics was on full show at Homebush on Saturday as our boys competed against the best of the best, on and off the field. This is the GPS in its element, with the athletes who have trained in such a disciplined manner over recent months giving their all on the track, while the boys in the stands reciprocated with the songs, the antics and the spirit that lifts the adrenalin to new heights for all who have the fortune to witness this extraordinary event. Renowned as the largest athletics meets in the southern hemisphere, the chemistry that is generated needs to be seen to be truly understood and appreciated. Sincere thanks are extended to so many – the coaches and managers who have worked so hard out of the sight line in preparation, the supporters who have rehearsed their routines with vigour and commitment, the parents and friends of the College who provide the infrastructure and manage operations on the day, and most importantly, the athletes. The boys in respective track and field events continue to build a tradition that spans a century and honour those who, from humble beginnings, have elevated this to one of the finest gatherings of its kind in the nation.
Over the coming break, while most of the school will be taking some time to rest after the rigours and demands of a busy term, the graduates will be fine tuning study and revision programs in preparation for the HSC Examinations early next term. To all, may you enjoy the space that the coming fortnight will provide and may it be a time of renewal and restoration after the intensity of a busy term and may all return refreshed and ready for the challenges that lie ahead over Term 4.