th anniversary of leaving school.
Thank you for the tour of this building, which holds so many memories for us, and for this delicious morning tea.
Thank you, classmates, for coming to participate in this celebration and sharing your stories. We remember the good times. We also remember with sadness those who have died.
A lot of living has happened over the last 50 years! Many of us have friendships that continue from our school years, and some of us are lucky enough to have experienced the school again with daughters attending Santa Maria. The annual reunions organised by Ada, and others, also keep bonds alive. It’s unfortunate that Ada and others can’t make it today.
However, all of us are seeing friends today we haven’t seen for a very long time. Perhaps you have had that experience this morning of wondering who someone is, only to find that after a few minutes of chatting, they haven’t changed at all.
You know, it’s actually 55 years since we started here as 12 year olds. I remember that first week well. I’d eagerly looked forward to coming away to boarding school. I’d read stories about girls and their adventures and was dying to find out what it was like.
The first days, maybe weeks, were an avalanche of new experiences for all of us. We were all small fish in a big pond, and the sheer number of girls was a bit overwhelming.
For the boarders, it was a total upheaval. We were probably in a bit of a daze, or constantly lost, finding our way to our beds and cubicles, working out which floor we were on, which set of stairs or corridor to take. There was a lot to learn and many things to get used to: waking up with a bell at 6.20 am, when to do your washing, when to do your music practice, what your ‘Charge’ entailed, whose turn it was for the ‘extra’ at the table, when to polish your shoes, (although that didn’t take long to learn because it was every evening!)
Day girls and boarders alike had new teachers to meet and subjects to begin, such as Latin, lots of homework and so many nuns young and old that we needed to work out or work around. It was an exciting time and it was fun. Fun? Yes, but the boarders had the additional challenge of homesickness that hit us all at different times.
We soon realised this adventure involved being away from our parents, brothers and sisters and the home we loved with its familiar and comfortable ways. We got through it together and hung out for letters and news from home, from visitors on Sunday and for the weekends out. After the initial sinking feeling of having to come back, we were soon buoyed by seeing our friends and hearing their news. We were very soon back in the swing.
It’s with gratitude that I look back on my five years at Santa Maria. I think we are all grateful to our parents for making the sacrifices, both financial and emotional, to send us to a good school. Thanks also to the nuns and staff at Santa who worked hard to give us a sound education. And I thank all of you for being part of those important formative years.
We were very fortunate to have seen many women take leadership roles, which wasn’t common in those years unless you were at a girls’ school. Over the years we’re aware of graduates from Santa who have taken prominent roles in society and government. Many of us have had less public roles but we have retained the Christian values and ideals practised during those years. We developed independence and resilience to face what life had and still has in store for us whatever path we followed.
While we were working out what life was about and what made us tick, big things were happening in the world – President Kennedy was assassinated and the Beatles took the world by storm. We were excited to go out into this world and the next stage of our lives.
There’s so much more to share – I haven’t mentioned sport, lining up to go to Mass and benediction, the school ball, the mile, the Saturday night movies, Sunday night dancing, climbing out the music room windows, looking longingly at the yachts on the river on the weekend, but I’ll leave you to reminisce on these and more!
Education has changed vastly since our day. It’s wonderful to see the range of subjects and opportunities and facilities provided today. I’m sure we all follow with great interest and pride, the continuing success of our old school. We wish Santa Maria the very best in the future.
Once again thank you Ian and the OGA.
Christine Meaton (Norris, Class of 1967 )