Our Presentation Evening was celebrated at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University on Tuesday bringing together students, staff and families to acknowledge the achievements over the year and farewell the 2017 Year 12s. This is a transcript of my address.
Thank you for coming along this evening to acknowledge the achievements of all of our students from Year 7 to Year 12. I welcome the families, friends, teachers, School Councillors, Parents and Friends' Association and Past Students' Association members. Your presence here tonight is much appreciated.
The achievements of the students that we celebrate tonight come as a result of the thoughtful application of intellect and talent. As a parent, teacher and Principal I can say that these achievements really do mean something.
When your child sits at the kitchen table or their desk each night putting pen to paper, paint brush to canvas or you hear the sounds of them playing their musical instrument throughout the house that is a sign that your child loves learning. It is our privilege to be part of their learning journey and to acknowledge this here tonight.
I also acknowledge the teachers who have guided the students along this pathway. They are dedicated, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and boundless in their energy. They always think of the individual child as well as the group. They are intuitive, insightful and are the sages of our school. Without their presence, the growth of each and every student here tonight would not take place at the rate that it does. Growth in knowledge is measurable, but sometimes what goes unnoticed is the growth in the confidence in the child.
This growth might be in the area of public speaking, performance, writing or general knowledge. But when we see it there is that Eureka moment when we say “I can’t believe how mature or how knowledgeable you are”. What joy that brings to us as teachers and as a family.
As the only Government Girls’ School in the South Eastern Region we play an important role in promoting the virtues of single sex education. We offer a high quality program delivered by teachers who genuinely care about their students. At our College students are able to challenge themselves by pursuing whatever passion they have.
The “deeply embedded cultural expectations and traditions” that influence the sense of identity of both the current and future self of our girls are set aside as students walk through the school gates. Students who graduate from MGSC compete as equals on the world stage and tonight is one such opportunity to acknowledge the various stages in their journeys.
Whilst MGSC graduates can be found competing in many fields, there is still another one for women to leave our mark on and that is in the area of STEM. Many schools have adapted the STEM theme to suit their context and at MGSC we value the inclusion of the Arts as this is where creativity meets logic. Talked about widely it encompasses everything from maths, data, programming, analytics, information communication technology, science and the arts.
So, what is the next challenge for girls’ education? A recent Invergowrie Foundation report, authored by researchers from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University, found that these “deeply embedded cultural expectations and traditions” steer girls away from STEM related studies and careers.
As a community we need to raise awareness in the media and share the successes of students in as many forums as possible. Whether that is in publications or through word of mouth, it all contributes to breaking down the stereotypes.
It is estimated that 75% of the fastest growing occupations will require STEM-related skills and knowledge, including critical thinking, problem solving and analytical capabilities. If girls are not encouraged to believe they can be the physicists, engineers and computer scientists of the future, they will not choose the advanced-level subjects at school that are required to enter STEM programs at vocational and tertiary institutions.
Young women will not only be shut out of the majority of jobs, but also many of the highest-paid careers, leading to further extending the gender divide of the workforce as men continue to dominate STEM professions.
This is the challenge for all of us in education and it is a challenge for all parents as well. At MGSC we know that the girls here tonight who are receiving their awards have the ability to break down these misconceptions. They have worked hard to achieve these awards which are just one form of recognition of their accomplishments.
To the graduating class of 2017 I say: Aim high, have courage and work hard. You will lead the way in your respective areas. These achievements are the precursors and predictors of achievements to come. They foretell the mark that you will make on the world. Speak out. Show everyone what you are made of. Be bold and become resilient in the process. Remember that you are a graduate of MGSC. Don’t lose touch with us. Tell us what you have achieved. Be the trail blazer in whatever areas you wish. We are proud of you. Well done on your achievements.