Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Principal's Address
Grade 12 Graduation 
Rundle Academy

Mr. Keith van der Meer

Graduating class of 2015, as I stand up here today there is one thing I want you to know; this speech has most definitely been one of the hardest undertaking I have had in my first year as principal of Rundle Academy. People have asked if I like the job, how it has gone, if it has been challenging and up until a few weeks ago, my answers were always full of positive affirmations and sentiments. Lately, however, when asked I have delivered the same message, but I know I have been lying. Your address has made me miserable, it has kept me up at night and when I do manage to fall asleep I awake in a panic after a some fearsome dream of standing up here and sucking the life out of everyone in the room with a dry, unaccomplished speech devoid of substance.

Why the nightmares graduates - because of the advice I was given heading into my delivery; make it about them, meaning you all sitting here before us, and, be inspiring. Two problems here as first and foremost, I am super interesting and when I speak I always make a point of talking about myself because people think I am pretty impressive and I would not want to take that opportunity away from anybody and the second problem I think most of you sitting there can attest to is that my well of inspiration is vehemently matched and even exceeded by my ability to yell at you. Advice has also told me to avoid this today.

So back to my dilemma, how do I make the nightmares stop, focus on someone other than myself and be inspiring all in one speech? And for a moment graduates, I thought I had it - I would research great convocation speeches and use them to inspire my message to you. And with that, I had a full night's sleep. Not soon after I was sharing my revelation with my sister and she advised that if the speech really was to be about the graduating class of Rundle Academy would someone else's words or ideas do this any kind of justice. And for some odd reason I again just wanted to yell at you all - I am not sure why, but perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I knew the nightmares were making a comeback in my life. But I also knew that you all deserved more than someone else's words and my sister was right for the second time in her life – the first is a longer story best saved for the banquet.
When I further stressed that I was told to be inspiring, my sister asked me one simple question that helped me craft the remainder of this speech: What inspired you this year?
We all have the good fortune of belonging to a school where the students take care of one another. I often have spoken of our CORE values and of school uniform, 2 of my greatest passions this year, and I think these frame your time at the Academy quite well.

Your Wellness and Creativity – Whether it was Aladdin or Alice in Wonderland or any of the productions in between, you have shone on stage and behind the curtain and learned what it means to be part of a cast and of a crew. Playing Volleyball, Frisbee or Football or any of the many sports available to you has seen you become skillful athletes, but more importantly you’ve become supportive teammates. Your musical talents have connected you to one another in melody and song and your creativity can be found in every corner of the school.
Your Understanding and Communication – You’ve been the voice of your peers through student council and have consistently represented and advocated for their needs within the school. You’ve learned to listen and respect all voices through your volunteerism with kindergarten students and senior citizens and all those in between. You’ve been Ambassadors for the school, representing us with pride and helping spread knowledge of the gifts you have been given during your time here at the Academy. You understand yourselves as learners and found success in your academics that will follow you long after you leave and you understand that the exception is the norm, and as a result have helped to ensure the Academy is a place where everyone can be themselves and feel safe.

Finally, Respect and Responsibility. Kids helping Kids, Travel Club and volunteering have all provided you opportunities to you give back and you have. You've been responsible for yourselves and for one another during you time here. You have demonstrated respect through your interactions with your teachers and with your peers. You have become mentors, each taking on a grade 6 buddy. And much like many of the students here today, they look up to you, care about you and look forward to the day they have the same responsibility. And I know how great they will be because of the tremendous role models they have had this year. And I hope that makes you feel good.

What of my passion for the uniform you might be wondering? Well, might I also add that looking good also makes you feel good and you are a good looking crew and that all starts with dressing nice. I must say that no grade has paralleled the commitment you have to representing yourselves most appropriately in your Rundle wear this year. With perhaps a few exceptions; Jon Boland's aversion to ties, Nick Hansen's quest for pediatric comfort in running shoes, or perhaps Joey and Rajan's torrid affairs with a razor or finally Mia's gumboots which as she has argued - are black and shiny so that counts for something. Thank goodness for the rest of you for holding the group together...

Looking good aside, what does this all equate to? Before us is a graduating class that has 100% involvement in our school community and beyond. During your time at Rundle Academy each of you has personified our CORE values and paved the path for all Rundle Academy students to follow. You have been and continue to be leaders of your school, and if you peers do have the fortune of falling into your footsteps, they will ensure that Rundle Academy continues to be an amazing place to learn and grow within.

So in the end it is not me that needs to inspire you, for each of you are already inspired. And my hope is that you will continue to inspire those around you setting the standard for what it means to be a Rundle Academy graduate; someone who is creative and innovative, considerate of others and kind, one who listens to better understand and one who takes on the responsibility of being respectful. Put simply, my wish is that you inspire those around you to be leaders, as that is what you have become.

Congratulations graduating class of 2015.

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