Paying tribute to our Class of 2017

Dear St Andrew’s community,

As a parent of a student in the Class of 2017 graduating this week, it is interesting to reflect on the impact St Andrew’s has had on a graduating student’s life.  We know the data tells us that after the family environment, the second greatest impact on a child’s life is their school.  However, what aspects of a child or teenager’s school life are influential? Is it the teaching approach to enable a student to achieve a strong exit grade, is it the co-curricular program that allows them to learn about themselves and others? Or is it the less tangible aspects of school life, such as the peer influence, the role modelling from the staff, the culture of focus and high expectations… If I were to try and summarise all the influences on the life of a student, the list would be endless. As Principal of St Andrew’s, is it possible for me to name the different aspects of a student’s journey with us and reflect upon where the College had the most impact?

To answer this question, why not ask our students?! Next week we will send out a survey to all Year 12 students and to their parents to give us detailed feedback, which assists us to be informed about the opinions of the departing Class of 2017.   However a quick glance through the Year 12 magazine Saaclopedia, gives an initial insight.  As I flicked through the magazine, beyond the photos of each student and read the outgoing comments, it became apparent that for all the character forming experiences, all the opportunities, all the teaching and learning, the aspect of a St Andrew’s education that stands out most to our graduating class is the respect that they have for our staff. The students consistently express gratitude, from the Facilities staff right through to members of the Executive and most importantly for their own teachers and the relationships formed. 

The Class of 2017 have grown, developed and achieved throughout their time with us because of the culture we provide, but only because it is coupled with the people who provide this culture, the role modelling and the opportunities that accompany it.  A testament to this relationship is so vividly seen in the final few days for our Year 12s.  It culminates in the way they leave us…with gratitude, grace and respect.   We have never had to manage a challenging departure of a Year 12 cohort.  Why? Because through our relationships with them we have shown and built mutual respect.  Our Year 12s know and value what has been done for them, and they know and value the people who do this every day.   All children and teenagers have their ups and their downs as they travel through the years of growing towards their independence, but consistently our staff faithfully continue to support our students so that they will have the skills and confidence to build on, both now and into the future.

I would like to pay tribute to our Year 12s and the journey they have taken. We know they leave us equipped to move forward to do great things.  This doesn’t happen without the steadfast and encouraging support of all members of our staff here at the College.  We are a community that builds connections through respectful relationships. Therefore I am humbled each year and this year, to see such fine young men and women walk out of our College tomorrow with the emotional send-off from the student/staff Guard of Honour up the main pathway: to move confidently into their futures.

Reverend Chris Ivey