2020 Final Assembly Speeches

From Brittany Ayliffe and ezequiel gonzalez pinheiro, 2020 college captains

Good afternoon, Dr Riekie, Staff and Students! Welcome to our end of year assembly for 2020!

What a year it has been. Unexpected, unprecedented, unrelenting, unusual, uncertain… but not in the least, underwhelming. Before we mention what a year it has been, lets first quickly reflect on our journey here at Cabra.

Undeniably, there have been memorable moments throughout our schooling life at Cabra, that will never be forgotten…Way back in 2014, or for some in 2016, a time which seems so distant now, we travelled from Primary schools all around Adelaide, and stepped through the big red Cabra gates for the first time. We were pint-sized students… with dresses to our ankles, a blazer five sizes too big, a backpack full of highlighters of every colour from the lighthouse book order… and of course, an immense passion to learn. We were the proverbial small fish in a big sea, unaware of the personal growth ahead of us. We were too easily getting lost in such an overwhelming campus but saying yes please! to all the opportunities in our paths.

As we progressed through the years, we went through new experiences together and shared joy in competing in events such as O’Mara cup, speaking of which, it brings back many memories of the crammed O’Mara corridor days where the oxygen supply got low at times, and where our year level coordinator was none other than Mr Heath. We will never forget the support and guidance of Mr Heath. Then came the next few years which included more CLW activities which brought us closer together and allowed us to go to places with the people we love, which are very rare experiences. And the small moments in class will never be forgotten, although… I didn’t realise it took 10 minutes to get printing…

All these experiences and being able to share so much time with one and other has brought us to this year, where we are closer than we have ever been. Now, let’s reflect on the year that was. Devastating Australian bushfires, so close to home, one very hot summer, and a year full of promise and possibilities. And along came COVID-19, and some of our expectations, hopes and dreams became a little unhinged. But we must count our blessings and our luck.

We were extremely fortunate to celebrate a magical night in late February, our Year 12 Formal, where we made wonderful memories together. Months of preparation and planning led to a fun filled night, more poses in one night to make the Australian paparazzi pale into insignificance. A shout out to Stefan Juhasz for being awarded our favourite Teacher’s pet… speaking of which, what a speech that bloke gave when he received the award at formal. Not to mention the fact that he wrote it in the limo on the way to the town hall… Ah did he ever mention that he died??

It was a year of firsts and a year of finals – our final sports day ever, saw us unite to participate not as four separate houses, but one unified cohort. We congratulate Moore for their 3rd consecutive year of 4th place. And isn’t it funny how the one year Mr Whinnen wasn’t there… Boylan didn’t win? Although… could we ever hear what he was saying on that microphone anyway?

And although COVID-19 tried its hardest to shut us down, we were still gifted two days of a magnificent retreat, where we strengthened our emotional connections through reflective activities, and plenty of chances to come together and gain strength as a cohort. Good thing we didn’t break any windows this year!

We truly are a social bunch! … somehow, we get all our work done without being in class…Has anyone actually seen Gibby in his classes? And furthermore, we have a rising superstar… in fact a TikTok superstar living among us – shout out to Izzy Iordanides.

We experienced our first every Colour Run in September – an afternoon filled with fun, laughter and a rainbow of colour – all for a good cause. We hope we can continue to shine all colours of our spectrum.

We will be the year level remembered as the ones who battled a global pandemic, which threatened to shut down schools, but nevertheless, we embraced on-line learning. And if there are any words that have been imprinted in our minds this year… it would be Social-Distancing…hand-sanitiser and 30 second handwashing…

Finally – we had the amazing opportunity to use many facets of this resplendent new gym, where we celebrated the Welcoming Eucharist, St Dom’s Day, and we’ve come full circle, to reflect the year we have shared – recognising all our great achievements and saying farewell to the graduating class of 2020.

Cabra, so unique in many senses. Each year we celebrate our St Dominic’s Day, a day that sets us apart from other schools. Each year is different to the next… and what a lifetime of St Dom’s Days we have experienced. For the first few years, we were crammed into the old gym, barely able to get a good view of the stage. But hey, look at us now, all on chairs, plenty of space…remembering the countless assemblies where it was that we discovered more positions to sit than we knew existed, thanks to the excruciating numbness and pins and needles in our legs.  Last year, we celebrated, one off, at Priceline Stadium… which looked a little different but was still just as special. And for 2020, we were graced with the magic and excitement of the wonderful act of the Magic Twins, for the last time, you guys truly are magical. We wonder if there is some emerging magic talent in the crowd today. And we can’t forget, the iconic Gullies performance, where we witnessed the spectacular fall from Maxwell, and the seamless recovery, what a legend!

Although some events and activities were anticipated for years, or have not gone as planned, we must whole-heartedly commend you all on the way you fully embraced all that was possible and optimised what we had.

Can you really believe it? 13 years of schooling are almost over!! It is true to say that we are going to miss it all, from the crazy chemistry orientation day experiments to the emotional times at retreat, and most importantly we will miss our peers, we will miss our teachers, we will miss our community.

So far we have come, seeking truth, seeking light, seeking friends and seeking knowledge. Only one chapter closing. Our books of adult life are still to be written – full of adventures, new beginnings, new truths, new knowledge, new possibilities – a whole world to explore with open hearts and open minds.

We concur that none of this would be fully possible, and that we wouldn’t be standing here today without the unconditional love and support of our parents. They have ridden the highs and lows of the Cabra roller-coaster with us, particularly the landscape of uncertainty this year, serving as your captains, and balancing our study, with friendships, sport, music and living in family.

We ask the teachers and collective staff community to stand. All these amazing people have chosen their careers for a reason. They love what they do. And it shows. Many have worked here for years and some for decades. That must say something intrinsic about our community, the environment, the workplace… the people. And to those who have just begun their teaching career here at Cabra this year, we wish you all the best… and we hope you enjoy and fully embrace the journey. Can we get an applause for these awesome people!

We further our thanks to the leadership team, for working with us dedicatedly behind scenes to make all years, and this year in particular, possible. What would we do without you? And also, a special mention to the counselling team for being amazing support and helping many of us get through tough times in this difficult year.

To the current year 11s… to the class of 2021, a message for all students really. We encourage you to – respect your teachers. Work with them. They want to walk shoulder to shoulder with you. They really do. The leaders that have represented before us, iterate the same. As year 12s, in a year of firsts and finals – assessments, folios, exams, the staff at Cabra, only want the best for us, for us to maximise our potential. So, it’s crucial that you embrace their support.

Perspective is a fine thing. Remember, whether it’s a maths test which didn’t go the way you planned, or a biology trail exam you nearly failed, or an English text you stressed over for weeks or even months– you need to focus on perspective. They are mere slivers of your schooling life and they do not define you. Let’s be real here, in a few months’ time, will it even matter anymore? That said… it is paramount that you give everything your best shot. Invest in life with 100% – because in some shape or form, it will pay rewards. You don’t want to be sitting here in your final year with regret.

We are Cabra Dominican College. We are Good, Beautiful and True. So we hear, and so we sing at every school event. But what really does make Cabra Good, Beautiful and True? It is the day-to-day community. It is the common interests we share, the beliefs and our communication. We check up on each other. And if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we find other means of communication, through facetime, messaging or even snapchat. It has also reminded us that when times get tough, it is most definitely important to check up on those around you, or even reach out when you’re feeling down. Connections are important, and the constant awareness that your friends are always there for you, by your side throughout the entire journey, makes all the hard work worth it. So something to take away, check up on your friends more often than you might think… because it could be life changing.

On a final note to the class of 2020, in a year that has been fraught with unpredictability, we have risen to its challenges – we have adopted and adapted to change. 2020 has taught us to grow, to be open to new things, it has given us opportunities, to innovate, to create, to dream, to aspire… and although we have been physically, emotionally and socially distances at times, the close connections we have forged with one another, and within our community, have never been separated.

What 2021 brings – who knows? Just remember this – stay open minded, embody your veritas and be good…beautiful…and true.

Our final remarks are one of thanks to the Dominican Sisters. Could we please invite Sr Bernadette up on stage to assist us with this.

In recognition of the foundations upon which our school was built and the legacy that the Dominican sisters have left us, we would like to present a gift to the Holy cross congregation of Dominican sisters, on behalf of the year 12s. Sr Bernadette, would you please receive this gift on your congregations behalf?

from dr helen riekie, principal

I was lucky enough to have a mum and dad when I grew up. They were very different individuals – my father was a larger than life man – who spoke to anyone and everyone. My mother was quiet and happy to remain in the background, talking to other kindred spirits. In their own unique ways they taught me a similar lesson, that has remained with me… ‘take time to tell people how much they mean to you.’

I learnt this lesson from my parents in different ways…

  • my dad, in his big booming voice, used to ‘shout it out loud’ in words or… give me big bear hugs… often in front of my friends – no matter how old I was!
  • my mum used it say it quietly in words and actions – in profound elegant carefully chosen phrases, or in a smile directed straight at me… that simply lit up my heart.

Last night, when, Year 12s you gave your parents or carers your letter, thanking and responding to the letter they wrote to you earlier this year…..  I was reminded of the sacredness and beauty of relationship. Your bravery and love shone through in that moment. I am sure your parents will cherish that letter and moment for many years to come.

So today, reminded of the lesson my parents taught me… and cognisant that this is the last time we gather as a whole school community with you. It is my honour to take a moment to acknowledge and thank you… the class of 2020

Year 12s, today marks the end of your formal lessons at Cabra and the beginning of the next chapter in your life. Some of you started at Cabra in Year 6… seven years ago! Barely able to fit into the uniform and arriving perhaps feeling a mix of emotions… excitement, fear, wonder, sadness, joy… perhaps this is not too dissimilar to how some of you are feeling today.

Others of you started in Year 8. Your first day at Cabra was back in late January 2016… this was also my first day at Cabra… and others of you, have joined us along the way… at other times in your lives, when Cabra was the best fit for you and your family. We are so glad you joined us.

It has been my absolute pleasure to have travelled these last five years with all of you. Regardless of when your journey began, I want you to know that your teachers, support staff and I are very proud of all of you.

Last week, a sweet treat and a signed card expressing your thanks was personally delivered to each Cabra staff member – some you knew well, and others you may not have met before. This meant so much to all of us. This gesture of gratitude and appreciation is a testament to your awareness of others. I believe it also shows your sense of self, sense of community and a connectedness to your school that you will have for life. Please know that you are always welcome at Cabra.

As much as we are sure you have learned so much in your lessons and all your activities during your time here, we want you to know how much you’ve also taught us, individually and collectively. Mostly this year you have taught us what you really value… being together.

In writing my speech, I have really struggled to decide on how to describe you. There are just so many adjectives to choose from….and generally they all fall short!

As Year 12s, you have been wonderful. You have embraced the challenges, not only those inherent in Year 12 but all the new challenges in 2020 that has come your way. You have shown your capacity to keep learning, to support each other, to share a laugh. You have brought joy into many lives. You have shown a deep care for one another and looked after each other. You have kept in touch and encouraged each other. You have shown a willingness to find ‘a way forward’, when first plans were not possible. I know that this enormous resilience and deep awareness of others, will stand you in good stead for your future.

Thank you for your contributions, and for all the moments, big and small. For the talent shows, magic shows, sporting wins and losses – for the music performances and the titration competitions, for your collective leadership on Sports Day…I can still see you dancing and hear you chanting!… and so much more….thank you also for the greetings in the hallway, for your attention during liturgies, for the assignments completed on time…and for your creative excuses from not submitting work!….for the smiles and chats, for your energy and sense of fun.

Year 12s, by sharing your own unique self with us….you have taught us and enriched our community…… each one of you, has left an indelible and unique mark on us at Cabra.

I want to say a special thank you to the college leaders Brittany, Ezequiel, Allivia and Aaron…along with the other Year 12 leaders. You have been extraordinary this year. I have loved seeing you lead and recognise the significant impact you have had on others. You have been generous, fun, thoughtful, creative and steadfast. I know that you commenced the year with many dreams and goals…and some of those things were not possible due to COVID…..but to your credit…you found new ways to lead and have had an impact. Your collective leadership work has been outstanding. Thank you.

While today marks the final step in your formal schooling it isn’t over yet! We all wish you well with your final assignments and in the examinations to come.

  • Approach them with confidence. This is a chance to show the markers and examiners just how talented you really are.
  • I also want to pay tribute to those of you who have made a really big push in the last few weeks and days to get those assignments in so that you too can achieve the SACE in 2020. Thank you also to the teachers and support staff – and no doubt many of your parents and caregivers – who have put in many extra hours to help you. Can we please show our gratitude, with a round of applause.

I am filled with great hope for the world of today and in the future – it is in good hands. You have shown time and time again….that you are committed to honing and using your gifts for good….you have already made the world a better place today than it was yesterday!

So as you leave, remember that you are loved…that you each have incredible capacity and gifts…and that the world is already a better place, because of your presence and contribution. We’ve encouraged you to find your truth; to Dare to Speak, to Be Truth Seekers; to find in life what is good, beautiful and true. Keep doing that – and always hold the Cabra motto of Veritas, close to your heart.

All the very best for your exams, final assignments, and as you begin your life’s adventures.

I would like to finish with a quote Ms Samuel shared in a morning reflection earlier in the week. As you know we are lucky each day, to gather together and reflect and pray as a community.

Your life is now. Seize it and make it amazing.

Find your voice. Discover your passion and pursue it.

Be honest, generous and kind.

Surround yourself with love, laughter and truth.

Let your heart be your guide.

Make a difference. Be brave and wild at heart.

Take chances, ask questions. Be fearless, make a difference.

This is your time.

Go well Class of 2020 and God bless.

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