Tumut High School’s Year 12 students start their HSC this week, wrapping up their secondary classroom careers last Friday, October 16, with a formal farewell assembly.
The assembly opened with ‘Fire and the Flood’ by Vance Joy as the students filed in to receive their certificates. The ceremony lasted for close to an hour and included speeches from Principal Don Dixon, Year Advisor Jo-Ann Stroud and School Captains Dom Erbacher and Lori Webb.
Mr Dixon highlighted the unique challenges which faced the seniors of 2020, recapping the “summer of catastrophic bushfires that will have left a lifelong impact”, the “greatest education disruption to schools caused by Covid-19 [which was] greater than anything in modern history” and “the myriad of confronting social issues” which has faced the world, especially as issues of systemic racism were raised after the death of George Floyd in the United States.
“Reflection is such a powerful learning tool, so when you reflect on this year, hopefully it becomes increasingly clear that there was much that happened to us that we could not control,” said Mr Dixon.
“However, hopefully as equally clear is the greater control we have over our attitude and responses towards the challenges we have been dealt.”
Mr Dixon referenced the stoic philosophy of ancient philosophers, encouraging students to differentiate between the things they have control over and the things they can’t control.
“Problem solve for the rest of your life,” he said, “Don’t waste time complaining, because that just makes what you have learnt this year a waste of time.
“You are good people. No one is perfect, but you walk out of this hall today as young adults this community can be proud of.”
Year Advisor Mrs Stroud took a softer approach, leaning heavily on quotes from Winnie the Pooh, such as “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
She pointed ahead to the new challenges, new independence, new responsibilities and new memories that each of the students will experience, urging them to “always remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
School Captain Dom Erbacher admitted in his opening paragraph that he only started writing his speech at 2am that morning, pivoting into a reflection on the importance of time.
“Let’s take a sensory snapshot of this experience right now,” he said, “so that tomorrow when you’re 75, you can say that graduation felt just like yesterday… Take a deep breath and feel your lungs expand, now look around for a moment and take it all in, remember the faces on either side of you.”
He charged his classmates with carrying that memory with them into the future, embracing “whatever feelings and emotions arise”, since graduation day would only come once.
During Captain Lori Webb’s final speech, she shared a round of her favourite high school memories, reaching back through Year 7 and 8 excursions and inside jokes through Tentrek and her deb ball.
“Looking back, I was given some amazing opportunities at Tumut High School and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to experience these with,” she told the auditorium.
“After all the ups and downs we faced throughout our schooling, we still pushed through and here we are, finally graduating. I am so proud of all the successes everyone has achieved through this crazy time.”
The outgoing seniors exited the school auditorium through a Guard of Honour formed by their siblings, with guests unable to attend the assembly due to Covid-19 restrictions.