From 2017 College Captain, Tyler von der Heyden
This is the text of an address given at the 2017 Graduation Assembly on Friday 22 September.
A year ago on this day we gathered together to farewell the graduating class of 2016 as they handed down the role of the senior year to us. We looked on in awe as we prepared for the incredible 12 months ahead, anticipating our own farewell and the legacy we would leave behind.
Throughout our journey as the 2017 graduating class, we have been the pioneering year for many changes throughout the College. We saw the rolling out of the laptops, the refurbishment of the school, changes in our Headmaster and Deputy Headmaster, the shift to vertical house systems and the introduction of the wellbeing model. The way in which we have adapted and taken these changes in our stride is credit to the strength and diversity of our year group.
We began back in the glory days of 2012 when we joined Mr Maloney to become the first year group with laptops. Although our transition into high school was never going to be easy, with the guidance of the teachers and the unorthodox yet extremely effective techniques of the seniors in our home groups, we quickly learnt our place in the school and began to thrive, fitting into the weekly routines of serious school work and a challenging yet enjoyable co-curricular program.
The first year flew by, and in no time at all we were joined by Year 8 Master Mr Andrews and signed up for the Cadet Unit.
Helped by the wonderful Ms O’Sullivan in Year 9, we were faced with another large number of challenges and opportunities including ballroom dancing and the choice of three elective subjects. The first Somerset camp also proved to be a gruelling test with two happy campers sadly not making it back to school after the heat got to them on the final day.
Three years on from our first nerve-racking day and we were already half way through our journey, each year surpassing the last in its intensity and enjoyment. It was in Year 10 that as senior students we started to reap the rewards of all our hard work and commitment to the school, whether it was individuals getting their first game in 1st grade sport sides, the buzz of the Year 10 formal or the long awaited three month summer holidays. For a lucky group of us we were also provided with our first taste of an immersion when we took part in a very memorable trip to Walgett, enduring an eight hour stopover at Lithgow ‘Maccas’ after a malfunction in the mini bus.
Year 11 marked the beginning of our journey through the infamous HSC with boys now able to choose their subjects and begin to develop closer working relationships with teachers. The immersion to Timor Leste, which is to this day the greatest experience of my life, exemplified the incredible ability of a group of Waverley boys and teachers to form amazing friendships in a short period of time when presented with the challenges and adventures of a developing nation.
It seemed like only a brief time ago that I accepted the leadership candle from last year’s Captain, Lachlan Drew-Morris and the graduating class of 2016; then, all of a sudden, Year 12 had started and our final year countdown began.
Here today we are now ready to say our final goodbyes. Year 12 was a blur and has been a year of achievements and successes on the sports fields, in the drama and music rooms and in the classroom. Each individual found their passion, no matter the area of school, and put all their energy into it, making this year more memorable for the group as a whole. I would like to convey this through an ancient Indian proverb: “Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.” Although this sounds quite ‘cheesy’, as our school days come to an end it is important that in the future you find what you love to do and pursue it with all your energy.
On behalf of the class of 2017, I’d like to thank the entire College staff, from the junior school through to Year 12, from the administrative and maintenance staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes, to the teaching staff with their unwavering commitment to each student. We have had the privilege of being supported by some amazing people. We would most like to thank you for the close bonds we have formed with you inside and outside the classroom. Whether coaching a sports team, taking part in an immersion or just with friendly chat around the school, each one of you brings a unique personality and charisma that makes each day more exciting and enjoyable.
To the men of Waverley from Years 5 to 11, I strongly urge you all to get involved in and contribute to anything and everything you can. The experiences you gain from your involvement in all aspects of school life are often more valuable than time spent elsewhere. Although the end goal is a great mark, this is really not as important as it might seem. There are numerous ways to get into a university course after school or to get a job. However, missing out on experiences to gain skills, knowledge and friends don’t come about often and are valuable in determining the person you become for the rest of your life. I advise all students to strive for a leadership position once they reach Year 12. It has been an absolute privilege to lead the school this year and something for which I will be thankful for the rest of my life. Over the past year I have had countless invaluable opportunities and made connections with people from around Australia and all over the world.
I would like to stress that although Waverley College prides itself on development and innovation, we also have strong traditions that should be maintained. While it’s important to embrace change, traditions serve to reinforce our values and contribute to a sense of belonging. I urge our students and the broader Waverley community to ensure that our traditions are maintained. We need to look no further than our own Brother Murphy if ever we need inspiration in ways to continue these traditions.
I would like to make special mention of my three Vice-Captains, Ben Donaldson, Finn O’Sullivan and Alfie Killigrew. I have no doubt that each of you could have done my job just as well as I have and I thank you for the amazing support and effort each of you have demonstrated over the course of the year. You are three amazing young men and it has been a pleasure to work alongside you in my final year. We have managed to do a vast array of things in such a short time, and we’ve had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. No matter whether it was hand making thousands of ribbons for White Ribbon Day, designing and ordering the graduation rings that we are all about to see for the first time today and will hopefully continue to be given out for years to come. And of course, we’ll always remember rocking up to the many girls’ schools for leadership afternoon teas. We have, along with the help from our 37-strong prefect body, been able to accomplish many things and leave a great legacy behind that we should be proud to look back on for the rest of our lives as old boys.
I would like to personally thank my Mum, Dad, two brothers, Daniel & Ryan, as well as my extended family and friends. You are the most valuable part of my life and my love and appreciation for you are beyond measure. On behalf of the Class of 2017 I would also like to thank all the parents for all the support you have provided your sons over the last 13 years of school.
Finally, to the class of 2017, experiences gathered from opportunities that you have embraced make life more memorable, rewarding and enjoyable. The many different ways we diverge in the coming years will never take away from the incredible memories we have shared during our six years together at this great college. You’ll think back to the countless hours spent tearing up the track down at Queens Park during athletics season, or the long nights spent holed up at the library buried in mountains of study. You’ll remember Charlie Negus excelling for the Australian water-polo side at Icebergs, Ben Donaldson, Australian schoolboy rugby representative, singing opera in the middle of the night in Timor, or 1st XI Football Captain Mitch Knight launching himself into the air to seal the CAS premiership with a stunning header. You’ll reminisce about the time spent learning the local language high in the mountains of Timor, or playing football with the local kids at Walgett. You’ll miss Daniel Morris’s contagious smile and uncontrollable laugh which legend said could even bring a man back to life, or Angus Mullins’ incredible voice and unmatchable outgoing performances, including his sporting of the blue dinosaur onesie to the athletics carnival in Year 8. You’ll miss Max, Jackson and Callum’s latest Multinerd review on the upcoming DC Flash TV series or you’ll smile to yourself when you think back to the passion shown by Swimming Captain, and my year 12 home group buddy, Eric Cordato after he finished filming his 8th season of Modern Family earlier this year.
But, most importantly, we will never forget the approximately 20,000 hours spent at school from kindergarten to this day in which we have forged some of the most amazing bonds between both peers and staff that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.
However, after an amazing year, one final hurdle presents itself to us in the form of the HSC exams. Try to stay positive and keep things in perspective. Have confidence in yourself and remember that after the 7th of November, the day of the final HSC exam, we will head into four months of well deserved holidays.
I would like to leave you with a relevant quote.
“Never blame anyone in your life…
The good people… give you happiness…
The bad people… give you experience…
The worst people… give you a lesson….
The best people… give you memories…”
Research has shown that any individual’s life is impacted by an average of 80,000 individuals. Remember that each person has their own unique influence on your life whether it is positive or negative. Cherish your family and friends and learn as many lessons from others as possible.
Remember however, that no matter what, whether in a week or two, completely drowning in exams, or 50 years in the future, Waverley will always be a part of you and you will always be a part of Waverley. Waverley has given each and every one of us an amazing foundation upon which to build our lives. However, it is the way we approach and overcome each challenge that we face and each opportunity that we take once we have walked out of these gates for the final time as a student that will truly determine the type of man we become in the future.
I challenge all of you to continue to grow and to develop for the better. There are endless possibilities so go forward, enjoy life and make a difference. As the famous – and slightly crazy – Dr. Seuss once said: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Enjoy tonight’s celebrations and, as a combined cohort, we leave here today as the graduating class of 2017.