Esther’s Inspiring Speech

I would like to commence by acknowledging the graduates of the class of 2017, here with us today. On behalf of the College, I would like to congratulate you and your whole cohort on your remarkable performance in the ACCESS and ATAR pathways. The final year of school is a challenging task, but I admire the grace and determination with which you completed your secondary education. You should be immensely proud of yourselves and I can honestly say that you are an inspiration to every student here today. This assembly is a commemoration of your achievements and we, as a College, would like to acknowledge the dedication each of you showcased throughout your years at the College, with an abundance of outstanding achievements and we look forward to recognising each student during the assembly. I am also extremely honoured to carry the role of Academic Captain, and hope to continue the great work of Lucinda Cahill and Jess Brown who held the role previously, and hope to do it justice.

On behalf of the student body, I would also like to thank the staff at the College for your tireless efforts and your patience in giving us the foundations that we need to start our lives in the world. Also, to the parents of the students, we are unable to thank you enough for giving us the great gift of opportunity, to have such an incredible education as the one we receive here at Santa Maria.

Our Mercy value for this year is Excellence, and so to follow up, I suppose I should begin by asking the obvious question. What is excellence? Excellence, according to the dictionary, is a quality which supposedly surpasses ordinary standards and is considered to be outstanding. Well, what my deduction of the term is, is that it means to stand out from the regular mainstream of everyone around us, not just to be better, but to maximise our individuality for both our personal benefit and the benefit of the people around us.

First, let’s make an obvious distinction between perfection and excellence. Aspiring for excellence is a form of inner motivation in all aspects of your life. Perfection, if I’m totally honest is boring. To me, being perfect is impossible and even if it were possible, it would be a stagnant and uninspiring existence with little imagination. We all love the idea of being perfect, of having everyone around us look in awe at what we’ve done and what we have achieved, but in reality, there is no honour in being perfect, there is no real success in having no failure. People who strive for excellence, they’re the truly triumphant people. They embrace their failures and use them to improve themselves, turning their experiences into wisdom they can use for the future. So, why excellence? Because it is limitless and progressive, it leaves you reaching for greater things for yourself.

Excellence isn’t about marks, it’s about learning. What’s the point in getting 90s and 100s in all your assignments if you take nothing away from it, if you see no value in what you’re learning? I’m not devaluing the excitement of getting good grades, but truly excelling is being empowered through learning new things about our world.  If you come home from school and you’re mesmerised by just one thing you learnt, no matter how trivial, that is progress towards excellence. Each and every one of you has gifts and individualities given to you specifically by God, and it’s our duty, as repayment for all the wonderful advantages we’ve been given, to use them in hope of achieving excellence.

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