Speech Night Address by School Captain, Ambrose Hennessy Class of 2018
Good evening distinguished guests, Mr Brown, teachers, parents and, most importantly, boys. Tonight, I have the great honour of speaking to you on behalf of all my year 6 class mates. We stand before you with great pride as the graduating class of 2018.
We have good reason to be excited. We are about to enter our respective secondary schools and we do so with a deep sense of confidence that we are ready. Mosman Prep has readied us. We have been nurtured and supported by this school. It has inspired us all and has allowed us to develop in so many ways.
Tonight is the night to celebrate the achievements of the senior primary boys and especially our year getting to this point. The year six class of twenty eighteen is moving forward but before we go I hope I will enlighten you a little about this school I have grown up in and loved for eight years. A special school made up of wonderful people.
So what is it then that makes Mosman Prep such a great school – and in our opinion more special than the rest? Those of you who have seen our year book will appreciate from the snap shots and commentary that our lives at Prep have been jam-packed and full of great learning and truly fun times. Without Prep there would be no Lake Macquarie, Blue Gum Lodge or Waterslea camp. No Terrey Hills days, George’s Heights activities, buddies, Chapel, amazing teachers, good friends and heaven forbid, no Anastasia’s Canteen!
This year we have also had the use of the extraordinary Central Learning Space, which has taken our learning environment to a place above and beyond our expectations. While the list goes on, what really makes Prep so special are the teachers.
The brilliant cosmologist Stephen Hawkins, whom we learned about this year, spoke of the importance of teachers in his last recorded message. In recalling how at school he was slow to read and write before a teacher showed him, he said:
“For each mind to achieve full potential it needs a spark, a spark of inquiry and wonder, often that spark comes from a teacher.”
Well at Prep the sparks fly! During every year and most recently our year 6 year with Mr Mac and Mr Hudson, we have been lucky enough to learn in classes that are alive with ideas and cause us to wonder.
Some of the most memorable learning we enjoyed this year was through the books we studied. We learned about people from other countries in less fortunate situations than our’s. In term 1 we read Anh Do’s book, “The Happiest Refugee”. Anh Do’s family were living in communist Vietnam when his parents decided to seek a better life in Australia. Anh’s family travelled here as refugees. They spent months on a tiny, crowded boat. They suffered terrible sea sickness and were baked by the sun. Twice they were robbed by pirates. Some passengers died. And yet they still pushed on. Although we cannot really imagine what they went through, and hopefully we will never experience such trauma, we can better understand the journey of a refugee and appreciate the importance of never giving up.
Because of the break out spaces in our new Central Learning Space we were able to further develop our understanding of Anh Do’s journey. We set up our desks in the middle of the break out space to make the outline of a small boat - which even then was slightly bigger than Anh Do’s boat. Our whole year group crammed in to the space and sat there for an hour. After that amount of time we all wanted to get out. From our teachers creating this exercise we gained a small but better understanding of what it would have been like for Anh and the many others refugees he was with, and how hard it would have been to endure those conditions during the journey in order reach our amazing country, pursuing search of shelter, and a new, better life.
In term 2 we learned about religion-based discrimination during World War Two from reading “Goodnight Mr Tom”.
In term 3 we read one of the best books I have ever read, “The Power of One”, about racial discrimination in the form of apartheid, and a man’s life-long attempts to change it. The stories hero, Peekay, battled extreme racial discrimination throughout his life and tried to change this while his good friend Doc. Vonvolonsteine was in Prison for being German. Reading these books has made me realise just how lucky we are to live in this country, to go to this school, and the importance of having empathy, especially for those less fortunate.
For those of us at Prep it is not a harsh world and we do not wish to change this but reading these books has given us a chance to put our own successes and failures into perspective and it has also taught us how to combat the feelings of frustrations when things go wrong. We have learned that things can go wrong in big ways and small ways in everyone’s lives but you have to keep trying. If you get tired rest but don’t quit. Thomas Edison, who most famously invented the lightbulb, said ‘Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration. As a result, a genius is often a talented person who has simply done all of his homework.” I am sure all the teachers in this room would say ‘amen’ to that!
We are often hearing of great achievements at Mosman Prep, and hard work is always behind this. When we hear of boys making state sporting teams or carnivals and boys achieving musical and academic achievements, it is worth thinking about how much work goes into what they do and how they practise, practise, practise over and over again. It has been said that ‘Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did’. I am sure every parent and teacher in this room truly understands this.
These and countless other lessons have been taught to us by our teachers. They are the life and soul of this Mosman Prep school community. Each one of them has in his or her way made a difference to a boy in this graduating class. So would everyone, and especially the year six boys, please give a round of applause for our teachers.
Another important part of our Mosman Prep education is the emphasis placed on good character. The whole school community, the teachers, the Church and our parents promote and support this ideal. Our motto, “Non Nobis Solum” or “not for ourselves alone” says it all.
Everyday life in our class rooms and on the sporting fields has re-enforced this ideal, as have the buddy system, the Good Chap programme, the Waterslea Camp, Weilmoringal and many other activities that were designed for this. We learn that a person’s character affects how they feel, think and act. From our years at Prep we understand that it is important to be honest, responsible, respectful and caring; to be a good and loyal friend; to include others; and to make people happy. We have experienced the good feeling of achieving things as a group rather than as individuals, and how much more rewarding that can be and about making choices that are right and avoiding doing things we know to be wrong.
Together with these lessons we have also learned about the importance of making mistakes. You’ll hear so many times from all the people who have achieved much in their life that it is through failure that you succeed. And you might think to yourself how do I succeed if I fail? As Sir Winston Churchill said: “failure is success if you learn from it.”
Or as the basketballer Michael Jordan said: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” None of us are perfect. We have all had our share of failure here at Prep. And each and every time we have been encouraged by our teachers to reflect on those errors, and to learn from them. The “growth mindset” that Mr Doran and his fellow teachers have encouraged us to adopt is one that we aspire to and hope will make us the best boys and best men that we can be.
Now I would like to acknowledge that we are not the only ones whose time at Prep is coming to an end. First, Ms Levine is hanging up her hat. Ms Levine is, and has been for a long time, Prep’s Early Entry teacher. Many of us have been taught by her and we consider it to have been a great privilege to have been in her class. We will remember many rainbow and sunny days, a few cloudy days, and the happiest of starts a young boy could hope for at Prep. Ms Levine also ran the Drama club which has helped boys to develop a love of the performing arts.
Secondly, in the near future the life and soul of Mosman Prep will change very much. There will be a change in the engine room. Mr Brown will be retiring as headmaster during 2019 - we are the last graduating class to farewell him.
Mr Brown is the only headmaster we have ever known, from when we were tiny in Early Entry and kindergarten to now as big strong year 6 boys. Without Mr Brown’s endless vision for this school there would be no specially selected teachers, no reception building, no Terrey Hills, no Central Learning Space, no beautifully decorated school walls and many other wonderful parts of the school. He has always been there in Assembly, giving us a message about goal-setting or the importance of good character, reading chapters of the Hobbitt, sharing with us his rather marvellous collection of keys, or showing us the latest correspondence from St. Judes or the Phillipines. Mr Brown’s endless drive and belief in the importance of making a difference in the world has made him both a special headmaster and a wonderful teacher. He has been the beating heart of Prep. We have been very lucky to have had such a passionate and compassionate person in our school life. I would like to take a moment to ask the whole Prep community to applaud Mr Brown.
Finally to the year 6 boys - thank you so much for allowing me the privilege of speaking tonight on behalf of our year. It’s something I’ll never forget. To be the school captain this year has meant the world to me.
To the young boys - we will miss you, especially our kindy buddies. Next year we will be like you, small souls looking up to big senior students!
To the year 5’s - we wish you luck and know you too will find year 6 to be the best year of your time at Prep. To the rest of the boys, we say: don’t waste a moment of this experience – it is precious and a true privilege that the school and our parents provide to us all. We have been so lucky to be part of a community in which we know each other well, love each other, and are there for one another. Maybe we’ll be back with our own kids one day, but for now, goodbye Mosman Prep, and thank you very much, you are in our hearts and minds forever.