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Academic Assembly

The following was a speech given at our Academic Assembly held at the end of last Term by Mr Mark Hayward

This is an occasion we should all be very excited about. First of all let me congratulate everyone whose name appears on the lists read out,  both current students and our top performers from 2018. Quality and consistency in achievement is never an accident. It is always going to be the result of what I like to call ‘Intelligent Effort’ (working smart by another name), and that perfectly describes all of our award winners. Intelligent effort is actually a blueprint for success in any pursuit and that potentially counts in everyone sitting here today. And then there’s this ….. a little quote I rather like: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”…. think about that for a second. A very wise person helpfully wrote this on the white board in the room next to my Guidance Office .… a nice thought! So there we have it - that means none of us are immune when it comes to the potential for doing well.

So what drives our Academic Award recipients? I can guarantee there are some common threads that have brought you here to have your achievements publicly acknowledged. Every last one of you will have a purpose that will have empowered you and enabled you to get to this point. Academic achievement, as with any other type of achievement, is a very personal and individual thing. There is no one formula that will guarantee results. However, having a purpose is common ground behind all achievers. It’s a fact that we don’t do anything without a reason. “I don’t know” is never a valid answer when someone questions why or how you have achieved success.

Academic Achievement - It’s about competitiveness for some, personal satisfaction for others; it’s about natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge; it might be to make someone else happy and proud. For some it’s pure determination and hard work to prove something. For others it’s about striving for specific personal goals and setting up for future success. It might be about gaining the tools to make an impact or a difference in the world; it could be about independence, getting a good job and financial security…. and for some it’s just what they need to feel good about themselves, and that’s okay too.

So there’s lots of good news here. As communal and social beings we sometimes find ourselves at significant events, like this one …. a Prize Giving, Sporting Awards, a wedding or a memorial service. We may not know all the individuals involved, but we attend such things to support and affirm our family, friends, teammates and classmates. We listen carefully and respectfully. We applaud loudly and enthusiastically when required and create a really positive and supportive vibe. It’s all about feeling proud and feeling good about what’s been achieved and it’s all the better to have others around to share in it.

I often think there’s something inherently unfair about award ceremonies. You know we work hard, put in the effort, fully contribute to the best of our ability and yet still miss out, sometimes by a single point. I guess it’s a bit of a life lesson but it’s about building resilience and optimism … 50 to 49 wins a Netball game, 8 points to 7 won the Rugby World Cup for the 2011 All Blacks. That doesn’t mean the team that loses on the day hasn’t worked hard, isn’t brimming with talent and potential and may well win the next game. So we MUST tough it out, look to the next challenge, keep up our standards, look to our purpose, look to try new strategies, look to our role models for inspiration. Our achievers today are pretty good role models don’t you think? I’m guessing a few others of you would quite like to be getting an award, maybe feel you deserve one. But I’m also thinking plenty of you may have other priorities and aren’t wildly excited about being here at all. My message to you is that even though you may not relate to gaining academic rewards, every one of you has the potential to achieve to a high level in something. You may already know what that is or you may have no idea, but hey you should be excited by that too! What you mustn’t do is use not knowing as an excuse to perform below your best, get despondent, or not take opportunities to explore your potential.

Throughout my time at Geraldine High School I have worked with hundreds of students through all the year levels as teacher, guidance counsellor, careers advisor, sports coach, team manager. I have never failed to be amazed at the range of abilities, talents and just determined hard work demonstrated by individuals. I have found, too, that often, that special ability to achieve, contribute and make a difference, doesn’t kick in until the senior school, or in fact until after people leave school when they find their way into a specific area where they find they can excel, or sometimes just happen into an environment by chance where previously undiscovered qualities and talents come to the fore. As teachers we love to hear of our students future successes. I can assure you, Geraldine High School students, as a group, are very high achievers in many and varied fields. They are tradespeople, entrepreneurs, health professionals, architects, pilots, lawyers, researchers, scientists, engineers, teachers, environmentalists, farmers, musicians, adventurers, community leaders, world travellers, all with real determination to succeed, great people skills, often succeeding against the odds, many have not let dyslexia or other learning challenges get in the way of success.

So here is the challenge. For those of you being acknowledged today, there is still plenty to be done: keeping up the standard through intelligent effort-working smart; finding relevance in what you’re doing; and channelling your achievements towards a meaningful career pathway and life satisfaction. The work doesn’t stop once you have your Blue’s Badge, go up a year level, or leave school.

The challenge for everyone is to be the best version of yourself, achieve what you need to move forward, look for and grasp the opportunities when they present themselves, don’t let mistakes hold you back … learn from them. Don’t let the static of bad behaviour and bad influence block the way ahead.

But for now let’s celebrate all our academic achievers and wish them well.