From the Director of Learning, Elizabeth Watson
“I once saw a Tee-shirt that said, ‘choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ For me that job is in the field of medicine and I recognised that the ATAR required to study medicine is very high. That’s what pushed me through the many hurdles in Year 12 and kept me going through hours of study.”– Finn Westwood, 2016 College Dux
Inspiration, commitment and hard work was personified on Thursday 23 February as students, staff, parents and members of the Waverley community gathered together to welcome back and celebrate our high achievers from the Class of 2016.
These assemblies set the tone for the Academic year ahead. They inspire hope and propel us to strive toward something better, greater and higher.
In 2016, 135 boys chose their own path to complete Year 12. Whether they selected an ATAR, non ATAR or nationally recognised qualification through a Vocational Education Pathway, each boy’s journey was unique and as a school community we are proud of the individual efforts of every boy and the personal milestones that have been achieved.
A common theme among our 2016 Graduates was the resilience and determination shown throughout their learning journey. We commend the grit that many of them drew upon to make significant and impressive progress throughout their time at Waverley College.
We were delighted to hear two of our 2016 Graduates speak at the assembly. Thank you to both Finn Westwood and Liam Molloy who shed light on their experiences and offered some wonderful words of encouragement and advice to our student body.
Liam spoke openly about his time at Waverley College, highlighting the importance of choosing subjects you enjoy and following your dreams. He entertained us with upbeat anecdotes yet also acknowledged that at times he felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the HSC year. At one point he even contemplated leaving. He sought advice from his teachers and family. It was the wise words of his Head of Year that resonated with him.
“Mr Barr asked me ‘would I ever leave the field 10 minutes before the end of a game’? Thinking about this and understanding that my family, teachers, mates, and I were all part of this team effort, I didn’t want to let anybody down or more importantly myself. It was in having this conversation I realised I had to play the last 10 minutes.”
Liam’s address was truly inspiring we wish him every success as he pursues his Photography career.
It was with great pleasure to award Finn Westwood with the plaque of Highest ATAR 2016. He has been accepted into the University of Sydney to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Advanced Mathematics and Chemistry
Finn delivered a wonderful speech. He spoke about what inspired and motivated him and the study techniques that worked for him, acknowledging that what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others:
“It’s up to you to find your own source of motivation and inspiration for the HSC….. and expose yourself to as many HSC study techniques as possible and find which ones work for you.”
Finn’s words of wisdom are spot on and his sentiments were summed up beautifully when he finished with:
“I can’t make a speech that writes your HSC story for you, nor can I explain what it will be like because it is different for everyone. You’ll just have to experience it yourself.”
I congratulate the entire HSC class of 2016 on their fine results and wish them all the best in their future endeavours. I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding commitment of staff and the support of parents during each boy’s learning journey.
I’ll conclude with Liam’s parting words at the assembly.
“…. find what you enjoy, identify that field or subject which ignites your passion and become great at it. Be prepared to start at the bottom, listen to those with more experience and learn from them. Be consistent, flexible and willing to adapt when life throws obstacles at you…… rise to your own challenges.
“And above all ‘finish the last ten minutes of the game’ because no matter how far away it feels now…. celebrating the games end with your mates is the best feeling ever.”
Both Finn and Liam’s speeches have been published in full below.
Address by Finn Westwood, 2016 College Dux
Firstly, a huge congratulations to everyone that made it onto this stage today. The effort put in by the high achievers in the 2016 year in my eyes was astounding. 125th in the state is an excellent accomplishment, so well done.
To be completely honest like any school assignment, I wrote this speech last night. I can sense teacher disapproval around the room, but I have a reason. The reason it is so late is because well I didn’t really know what to say. Every time I sat down to write a speech, every subject matter surrounding the HSC seemed difficult to write about and only apply to certain people and I found that’s because of the way the HSC brings out our differences. I originally thought I’m going to write an awesome inspirational speech and everyone is going to be excited and motivated for the HSC. Well, I failed, and that’s because we’re motivated by different things.
For example my motivation began at the end of year 10 when I went to the presentation night and afterwards my mum asked me “why weren’t you on stage Finn?”. The real reason was that I simply couldn’t be bothered, I was unmotivated. I didn’t play up in class but I didn’t push myself to do well because I didn’t see a reason to do it. Of course I didn’t tell my mum that. I just said “Don’t worry I’ll be dux next year.” She then said “If you get dux, I’ll buy you a car.” And with that comment I suddenly found the motivation to push myself in the classroom. Not just spurred by the financial incentive of a car which I would never be able to afford otherwise but also to gain the satisfaction of proving my parents wrong which every teenage kid loves. If you question the power of motivation, let’s just say you are now looking at the proud owner of a well used 2002 Mitsubishi Mirage.
In Year 12 my main motivation shifted towards a future career in medicine. I once saw a T shirt that said “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. For me that job is in the field of medicine and I recognised that the ATAR required to study medicine is very high. That’s what pushed me through the many hurdles in Year 12 and kept me going through hours of study. Now the problem I have is that not everyone here wants to study medicine, some are simply motivated towards a high ATAR to prove to themselves they can do it. I would say there is an array of motivation gathered on the stage that helped these gents achieve the ATAR they received. So really it’s up to you to find your own source of motivation and inspiration for the HSC. I can really do no more then tell you what my motivation was and how it helped – the hard bit is now in your hands. So for that reason it’s difficult to write a full speech on how to find motivation if everyone has different motivation.
So with the clock slowly ticking into the lonely hours of last night I thought what about useful tips for the HSC and a speech focusing on that. Again the diversity and differences of people struck me down. My personal study technique was just doing notes for everything in a subject and then past papers. That said there are people here on stage with tremendous results that didn’t do that at all. Some did tables rather than draft essays for English; others did notes for only things they struggled with; some made flash cards; some memorised essays; some went to the library; and others stayed at home. The point I’m getting at is there are endless techniques to studying and everyone is an individual and their brains respond differently to different types of work. An interesting one I found during my studies was group work. I could never study with other people, it was too distracting and felt kind of strange. However, I hear other people do really well in groups and are able to work together to more effectively grasp difficult concepts. Again such a vast array of different learners means I can’t stand here and tell how to study promising good HSC results. My advice for finding tips for the current Year 11 and 12 students is to expose yourself to as many HSC study techniques as possible and find which ones work for you.
What about a speech on ways to deal with sadness and hardship during the HSC. Personally, mine was eating, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the best way to go about it. I did feel sickly sometimes and my essays were always covered in crumbs which clog up your pen but at least I wasn’t sad. I know there are definitely more productive ways of dealing with hurdles in the HSC, for example maybe switching to a different type of study, but eating worked for me. So again I can’t come out here and tell you all how to get through barriers in the HSC because everyone does it differently.
So here is what I have to say about the HSC. You’ll all respond to it differently and develop your own individual ways of conquering Year 12. Some might even say the HSC is a process of discovery that can vary according to personal, cultural and societal contexts and values. You’ll graduate from Waverley with different stories on how you made it through year 12 and what you did to cope with exams. I can’t make a speech that writes your HSC story for you, nor can I explain what it will be like as it is different for everyone. You’ll just have to experience it yourself.
Address by Liam Molloy, nominated for HSC Showcase ARTEXPRESS
Family, friends, teachers, Mr Leddie, gents of the 2016 cohort and to the young men of Waverley College, thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak with you today.
Today, right here, right now, giving a speech alongside last year’s dux of Waverley College, Finn Westwood, is something I would have never seen myself doing. To be honest, I am not going to be speaking in the same capacity as Finn, however, I will be providing an insight into the field I lived for, and the industry I have worked within during school, and will continue to in the future.
As many may know, photography has been a big part of my life. It was during the Year 5 camp at Vision Valley my interest was ignited. I was given the task to take photos of one activity and instantly found I had the ability to capture images whilst enjoying myself at the same time.
From here I spent several years developing my skillset; constantly researching, and learning as much as I could about photography. It was during this time I found my hobby was also a way to earn a dollar. At the age of 15, I began photographing parties. I saw a gap in the market, and knowing busy parents would love the idea of outsourcing the camera for the night, I knew it was a job that could easily be done by me. I began marketing myself as a Party Photographer and soon spent my Friday and Saturday evenings out on the party scene. This was great! I was out enjoying all these events and earning at the same time. Life was good!
Party photography was where it all took off for me. I was now earning a steady income from what I enjoyed doing. Many of my mates were working at fast food chains, Westfield or doing chores around the house and not happy about it. I felt privileged to enjoy my part time job, however, this wasn’t enough for me. I wasn’t happy to just settle for this.
I was always looking for more knowledge, I was keen to continue developing my skills and searching for a more innovative way to increase my business turnover. Everything I earned went into upgrading my equipment and striving to improve my technique.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing however. Like anything in life, difficulties and challenges presented themselves. Being colour blind, photography was not the ideal career choice for me but as it was my passion I was not going to let this derail me. I had to learn to adapt techniques and my skills to this situation. No one wants to be supplied a set of photos where all the guests have a slight shade of green to their skin…. And yes! That did happen.
By Year 10, I had acquired a nice set of camera equipment and was driven to explore a more creative side of photography. Having spent a considerable amount of time online, buying and selling equipment and speaking with other likeminded photographers, I now had many mutual friends within the photography industry. It was these people who offered their expertise and experience and would often steer me towards those they felt could help me improve myself. I learnt the value of contacts and networking, spending much time interacting with them to gain assistance in my pursuit for creativity. During this time, I found myself in contact with a photographer who I am now happy to call a good friend, Wendell Teodoro, an accomplished editorial/fashion photographer who has worked at over 60 fashion weeks around the world. It wasn’t long before I convinced Wendell to allow me to assist him – holding flashes, carrying bags, preparing equipment, editing photos and eagerly watching as he worked on red carpet events, film premiers, musicals, model shoots, fashion shows etc. This proved invaluable as the knowledge gained through this experience and watching Wendell work was enormous.
As I entered Year 11, the rewards for the past year of listening, watching and learning, all began to pay off. I started to be assigned to my own events and quickly found myself running around the city covering editorial stories, fashion shoots, private events and much more.
As summer fast approached I knew I wanted to diversify and began creating a portfolio for myself. In the 2015 holiday break between the transition of year 11 to 12, I began capturing my best works!
As many here today may have seen in my year 12 major work, it was based on Lifestyle Commercial Photography. This was to be where I believe my skillset belonged and what better area to choose for my photographic display. I enjoyed photographing a lifestyle that could then be used to sell a product or event. Whether it was a clothing labels, drink bottles, music events, shops, restaurants, you name it, over the summer period I photographed it – over 150 lifestyle projects in all. This volume of work proved invaluable, as my year 12 major works project had now just found me.
Returning to Year 12 after a successful summer break, I began to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the HSC year setting in. I was so overwhelmed, I contemplated leaving, I began to think that Year 12 was something I didn’t need. I wasn’t planning on going to university, so why did I need an ATAR. I had work, I had contacts, I felt set up and ready to start my chosen career.
Thankfully, after much debate with my family (heated at times) mum and I met with Mr Barr, my year master, who understood my desire to begin my life outside of school. However, it was during this discussion he made a reference which hit home to me and made me reconsider my priorities. Mr Barr asked, “would I ever leave the field 10 minutes before the end of a game”? Thinking about this and understanding that my family, teachers, mates, and I were all part of this team effort, I didn’t want to let anybody down or more importantly myself. It was in having this conversation I realised I had to play the last 10 minutes.
In the end I managed to run my HSC Year parallel to my photography career and in doing so they merged to complement each other. It was while researching my major works for the HSC that I discovered where my talents lay. During this year I participated in some amazing experiences and was exposed to a variety of visually rewarding opportunities; such as Fashion Week, The Australian Open of Surfing, Melbourne Cup, The Australian Ballet just to name a few. It was this exposure that gave me the opportunity to gain a body of works, which saw me nominated for ARTEXPRESS. This was an accolade I never expected and feel very humble to have received. I now understand that none of this would have been possible had it not been for the support and quality of teachers I experienced while at Waverley College – a privilege you appreciate when you look back.
In closing gents, my message to you is no matter how much you think school isn’t for you – or even if it is your thing – find what you enjoy, identify that field or subject which ignites your passion and become great at it. Be prepared to start at the bottom, listen to those with more experience and learn from them. Be consistent, flexible and willing to adapt when life throws obstacles at you. Rise to your own challenges.
And above all “finish the last ten minutes of the game” because no matter how far away it feels now, celebrating the game’s end with your mates is the best feeling ever.