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18 September 2015

(originally published in the Queenwood newsletter)



"Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realise they were the big things"


I feel I am well underway to become a fully-fledged connoisseur of Queenwood's quirky and loveable traditions and eccentricities.


The past ten days have been particularly educational in that respect, and I can honestly say that I have never worked in a school where the students bring posies and bouquets of flowers to celebrate their school’s birthday and that of one of its founding Principals.  What a special tradition this is.


Following the lovely birthday celebrations we have continued this week with some much treasured traditions, many of which centred around our departing Year 12 students.  The week started with some good-humoured muck-up activities - and some that pushed the boundaries a little where, for the last time in their school career, we had to rein the girls in somewhat before they enter the real world.  The water fight on the lawn provided some light relief on the hottest day of the term– especially for the Mathematics department, some of whose members took great pleasure in joining in and throwing water bombs at their students.


On Wednesday peace and dignity returned with our Senior Service where the Year 12 Prefects bowed out of their jobs and handed the leadership positions and badges down to the next generation of current Year 11 students in a very symbolic and poignant ceremony.  The newly appointed Prefects and Captains made their formal pledges to serve the school community, and the entire year group received their Year 12 ties as a sign that they are now the student leaders of the school, whether in a formal or informal role.  We enjoyed having the company of so many Year 11 parents and all the Year 6 girls from the Junior School at this significant event.


On the same day we had our final Sports Assembly of the term, which took the Year 12 girls on a nostalgic trip through their sporting career at school.  We also awarded the Pockets to Year 12, and the large number of awards highlighted the wide range of commitment and talent of this year group.


Thursday started with a real tear jerker:  the entire year group met at the Junior School where all students from Kindergarten to Year 6 had prepared a lovely program of music and entertainment.  Hearing the Kindys encourage the Year 12 girls to “Reach for the Stars” was simply adorable and brought tears to the eyes of those who had been at school since Junior School (as well as some of those who hadn’t).  We equally enjoyed the contributions of all the girls in Years 1-6. Our sincere thanks go to the Junior School staff who helped to make this occasion so memorable.


After a brisk walk back to the Senior School the girls then led their Final Assembly – a trip down memory lane full of in-jokes and entertaining speeches and culminating in a guard of honour from all the Senior School students as Year 12 2015 ceremonially left.  They have not really left, of course – the IB students have another fortnight of lessons in October, and both HSC and IB students still have the small matter of exams to contend with.  But a symbolic point in their lives nonetheless it was!


On Thursday night we celebrated the Valedictory Dinner with Year 12 girls and parents at the University of New South Wales – a lovely occasion to unwind at the end of an intense and emotional week.  We enjoyed a number of light-hearted speeches and good-humoured company. One quote I remember particularly well, not least because I have the words on display in my office:  “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and realise that these were the big things.”


The seemingly little things that happened over the past few days and that are there to be treasured include but are not limited to the following:  giving a bunch of flowers to someone who may not have been given flowers for years and seeing their face light up.  Returning to your old Junior School and giving a hug to the Kindergarten teacher who looked after you and nurtured you when you were in Kindy 12 years ago.  Taking responsibility and apologising for one or two pranks that may have gone wrong and seeing the respect in your teacher’s eye when you do so.  Blowing up dozens of balloons and leaving them in the staffroom to give your teachers something to smile about at the end of a busy and intense term.  Or simply enjoying a convivial Valedictory Dinner and good food, wine and company, taking pictures and selfies with your friends, your parents, your teachers. 


Despite the upcoming examinations we wish the Year 12 girls some downtime and relaxation for the holidays.  And of course our best wishes go to all girls and parents for a good break and a chance to recharge exhausted batteries, read a few good books, go for invigorating walks, enjoy the little things and rejoice in the company of friends and family.  Have a lovely holiday, send your daughter back to school refreshed – and remember to measure her summer dress in good time before the start of term and seasonal change of uniform!




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