Head Girl Stella’s Final Speech

Head Girl, Stella Hammond giving her final speech at the Graduation Celebration

Good evening, staff, parents, family members, and the beautiful graduating class of 2021.

As we’ve been told, this week marks the end of a 14-year, 728-week, 5,096-day journey. One that started on our first day of kindy, when nap times were given to unworthy recipients and a test, let alone an exam, was unheard of. However, the tests were only tests, but it’s the lessons behind each of them that have made you all into the extremely capable women you all have become.

But what has made up this fourteen-year journey we’re all being reminded of? I know, personally, I find it quite difficult to recall all the details, but with the help of you all on Wednesday on our Farewell Day, we were able to dig up some of our most treasured, and entertaining memories.

For most of us, in 2014 and 2016, we entered the green gates of Santa Maria College. Awkward pigtails drooping over each ear, facial features we had yet to grow into, along with every item in our new and pretty complex uniform, compared to the skort we were all familiar with.

2014: Year 5

So, since our days in Year 7, we’ve had:

Six Mercy Days fuelled by an overpowering appetite for sour straps and hotdogs, as well as our true colours being shown by spending an embarrassing amount of money, lining up to only run away from the animals in the petting zoo.

Six Purple Bra Days and G4G Days decking ourselves from head to toe in purple and pink attire, where we came together to support other women, by either spreading awareness about breast cancer or allowing other girls around the globe the opportunity to learn, as well as our prominent appetite for hotdogs shining through once again.

Six socials with Aquinas, yet for some of us, scraping by on barely six interactions with an Aquinian, themself, but nonetheless, countless hours in finding the perfect, timeless and chic dress that will ‘photograph well’ and that ‘won’t look basic’, and the perfect eyeshadow that’ll make your eyes POP when the time is right.

2016: Year 7

One pandemic that reminded us of how much of a difference it makes to be around your friends when learning, and how dull it becomes to go through these experiences by yourself, and that no matter how much we might convince ourselves, we need people to guide us when learning and that it isn’t a job that can be done by ourselves.

Two camps and one retreat, which fortunately got less muddy and more hygienic, despite hungry horses with an appetite for fingers, where we were spoilt for time in being able to reflect and enjoy each other’s company as our time was starting to come to a close.

And one final year, one farewell day, one graduation and one group of girls to do it all with.

Everyone has their own story and it’s okay if yours isn’t perfect at the moment. Believe it or not, no one has their life sorted. Everyone in this room has their stories, good and bad, obvious and hidden.

And, in saying that, remember to stop for a minute, take a step back and allow yourself to be proud of everything you’ve done, big or small. And discover that the world doesn’t implode if you stop going a million miles per hour.

Most importantly, spread kindness and gratitude. When our staff talk about becoming a Mercy woman, it doesn’t mean you have to open institutions all over the globe and make history. What it means, is to just be nice. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that there have been some pretty ugly things happening in our world recently, and so when we look at those dark things going on, the least we can do for each other in this privileged situation we find ourselves in, is to be to be kind to each other, grateful for what we have and make it our duty to spread it to those around us.

2021: Year 12

But who could put what it means to be a Santa girl better than one herself?

Nishi in Year 10, told me that her “favourite thing about being a Santa girl, is knowing that wherever life takes her, she will always have the lasting and genuine relationships that she has formed with students and teachers alike. The sense of community and College spirit present, is what makes being a Santa girl so unique and special.”

Alicia in Year 11 told me that her “favourite thing about being a Santa girl is the community and how inclusive it is, which only creates more opportunities to make lifelong friends and connections.  She also loves the opportunities we are given that enable us to become strong, independent women.”

And your incredible Deputy Head Girl for 2021, Lucy Anderson said “Santa has been my second home for the past eight years; it has provided me with countless opportunities that have allowed me not only to find my passions but also life-long friendships. The community within Santa pushes girls to reach excellence as well as providing a great education.”

I would like to thank all of our amazing staff, Mrs Oaten, Mrs Pengilly, Mrs Spark, Ms Sawiris, Ms Landers, Mr Wray, Mr Stewart, Mrs Webster and Mrs Bastow for going above and beyond in their profession and turning the bread and butter of education into Nutella and sprinkles on sourdough. It’s thanks to you all that we are now equipped in being able to make the most of what we do in our time to come, outside of these familiar green gates.

Class of 2021

Finally, I would like to say thank you to my Santa sisters, my gal pals. The class of 2021 is unlike any other. By just looking around the room, you’ll see women who are ready to dominate the wider world, after dominating this one. Individually, you’ve all achieved much success. But collectively, we’ve left a real mark on this school. And I truly believe that came from being one big tight family unit who have supported and cared for one another, through and through.

I guess part of the excitement is the idea that we don’t know what is next. It’s daunting but so incredibly exciting. It feels so surreal that we’re going out into the great big world, and in a way it feels as though it’s all happening too fast and too soon. But, we are ready. So, in the midst of the unknown of what’s to come, the one thing we do know is what we have now. And when we recognise how much that is, there’ll be nothing holding you back. We all may have moments of self-doubt, but when those moments come, let them pass, and keep going.

I wish you all the best for your future endeavours and I’m incredibly excited to see this amount of potential transform into something amazing. And before I finish, I’ll leave you with one more stat,

One Santa Maria College
One amazing journey
One exciting world
One million opportunities

Good luck and goodbye for now.

Stella Hammond, Head Girl, 2021

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