2017 Principal's Speech Night Address

Chair of the Board of Governors, Dr Greg Keene, Members of the Board of Governors, Trustees of the Pulteney Foundation, distinguished guests, members of staff and the Executive, parents, grandparents, friends and especially students of Pulteney Grammar School, it gives me great pleasure to address you this evening at this wonderful event that reflects upon and celebrates our 2017 school year.

We are 170 years young this year. And what are birthdays for? Birthdays encourage reflection, they prompt great celebration and they bring people together. Shirley Bassey is famous for saying “you don’t get older, you get better”. This is certainly the case with our fine School.

In 1847 the Trustees of the Pulteney Street School outlined in their rules and regulations that we would educate boys and girls of the young colony and that the “school, though formally in connection with the Church of England, be open to all denominations.” The newspaper back then thought this “a liberal course of policy.” Even then, Pulteney was forward thinking.

Today, we continue to acknowledge our Anglican faith whilst welcoming all people to our school. We are a non-selective school and every individual contributes to our success. This evening gives us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and to express gratitude for the many opportunities provided by our School.

Throughout this year, we have been working to achieve great aspirational outcomes. Our Strategic Plan has six strategic priorities focusing on:

  • supporting engaged, motivated and resilient students;
  • providing an outstanding teaching and learning experience;
  • continuously developing our skilled, passionate and committed staff;
  • creating an innovative and integrated learning environment;
  • fostering collaborative and creative community partnerships and
  • achieving high performance across our School.

We have achieved significant milestones in each of these priorities. We have not done it alone. Nor has progress been achieved by a few. The collective capacity of our amazing school has enabled fantastic progress in achieving our strategic direction.

Similarly, so many noteworthy individual and collective achievements have occurred this year. These take place each and every day. It is impossible to outline them all, but there have been many significant moments for students and staff from ELC to Year 12, such as:

  • The commencement of the construction of our new Middle School that is rising out of the ground at a fantastic rate.
  • Our Secondary Engineering and Mathematics team (made up of students from Years 7 & 9) winning the Australasian Pacific Final of the Tournament of Minds. This is the second year running that Pulteney have had a team win at the national level.
  • The marvellous national recognition for Pulteney in the R.A.C.I. Titration Chemistry Competition, for the second year running, where our team was awarded first place in all of Australia.
  • The 170th Ball that brought together our diverse community and affirmed the collective wisdom and community of care from which we all benefit.
  • The introduction of Mandarin Chinese to our Kurrajong and Prep curriculum, that will grow through our school in the coming years.
  • The First XVIII (18) Girls Football Team completing their first season in such fine spirit and, indeed, the spirit of Pulteney being so strongly exhibited at the Summer and Winter Intercols and the annual Sports Awards Dinner.
  • The travels and deep learning experienced by all those who attended the Central Australia Cultural Program, the German Trip and international exchanges
  • The moving Remembrance Day Service when even the workers constructing our new Middle School facility stopped to participate.
  • The acknowledgement of the outstanding quality and standard of our Music ensembles at the Balaklava Eistedfodd and ABODA competitions
  • The Preptacular, Lego League success, Kurrajong Christmas Concert, Gig at the Gov, Venture Club expeditions, The Pulteney Challenge, Duke of Edinburgh’s medal awardees at bronze, silver and gold levels, the Kurrajong, Prep, Year 12 and SALA Art Exhibitions, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Year 12 Production “The Crucible” as well as a multitude of other events that have showcased our young people’s considerable talents.

Speaking of talents, one of the great privileges of my role as Principal is to award a School Blue. This award is not necessarily presented every year. In fact, this is the first time in my tenure as Principal that I have the privilege of doing so. The School Blue is reserved for outstanding achievement and contribution to the School.

The recipients:

  • must be of exceptional character;
  • must be academically very strong;
  • must have demonstrated outstanding qualities of leadership and loyalty;
  • must have been involved in many areas of school life and achieved distinction in a number of these.

They should have used their talents to have enhanced the reputation and standing of the School.
We have two such recipients this year. Those who are to be presented with this award this evening meet these criteria. I would ask them to come and stand next to me on stage to accept their awards.

Would you please welcome: Natasha Holmes and Neha Athreya.

I will begin with Natasha. Natasha is a talented and committed student. She has achieved outstanding results in Year 12 and has been awarded for Academic Excellence over many years. Natasha possesses outstanding qualities of reliability, cooperation and respect and she has exhibited these through her extensive contributions to eight different sports, Venture Club, Music, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and leadership positions in House and Sport, for which she has achieved numerous accolades. Natasha has been a wonderful ambassador and loyal servant for Pulteney Grammar School throughout her fifteen years and she is highly respected by the school community for her talents, commitment and leadership in many diverse areas of school life. Would you please join with me in congratulating Natasha Holmes.

Neha is an outstanding young woman who has led her peers by the excellent example she sets and the passion she shows for Pulteney. An incredibly hard worker, Neha has achieved academic excellence awards in every assessment period during her time at the School whilst involving herself in all that the school has to offer – Venture Club, seven different sports, the School Musical, debating and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Her efforts have also earned her multiple subject prizes at school and distinction in national Mathematics and Chemistry competitions. Neha’s strong sense of social justice and her genuine concern for the welfare of others have meant her leadership has been exceptional. Throughout her fourteen years she has been an extraordinary role model to our entire school community. Would you please join with me in congratulating Neha Athreya.

I take this opportunity this evening to give thanks to all who have contributed to our School community:
The Pulteney Old Scholars Association and the Friends of Pulteney, thank you for your efforts throughout the year. It is through the work of groups that truly have an altruistic goal to provide the glue or mortar that holds us together, that our School is made strong. Such work is not about money or fame, it is about friend raising and fostering connectedness. To the Foundation, for the work you have done and the significant work you are about to do to enhance the excellent educational programs for which Pulteney Grammar has become renowned, thank you. I express gratitude to our Board of Governors on behalf of our school community and echo the thanks previously provided by Board Chair, Dr Greg Keene. Thank you for giving of your time and considerable expertise.

I now turn to our Year 12 students. In my Valedictory speech some weeks ago, I focused on the profound learning that can be gleaned from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka says: “Anything you want to, do it; want to change the world? There's nothing to it."
I have no hesitation in asserting that these Year 12 students will change our world for the better. This group have been inclusive whilst being diverse, serious in their studies whilst having a wicked sense of humour, and genuinely good fun to be around.

I quote Staff member Mark McGarry who emailed all staff on the Monday after Valedictory. He stated:
[The weekend] gave me time to reflect on the departure of the Year 12’s and the emotion charged day that was Valedictory, with the farewell to school speeches in the morning setting the tone for eloquence and emotion that culminated in an amazing celebration at the Dinner on Friday night. The essence of Pulteney was never more evident than what was encapsulated in those parting moments – a great bond, a strength of purpose and a celebration of each other.

Year 12s, take advantage of all the learning you have attained at Pulteney Grammar School. Value and nurture the friendships you have created and, importantly, believe in the power of you. Remember, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has, is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So, write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” (Neil Gaiman)

And don’t forget to keep us, your School, in your hearts and minds. While you will continue to grow and change, Pulteney will remain a constant in your lives. We will always be here to support you, as our newest Old Scholars, in your bright futures.

This evening I also acknowledge the extraordinary leadership provided by our School Captains, Sam Price and Isla Walker, and Vice Captains Neha Athreya and Isaiah Fabbro. I have enjoyed working alongside each of these fine representatives of our most senior cohort. In our regular meetings we have laughed, cried, been sensible and silly, disagreed and agreed. They are resilient, compassionate and honest individuals and outstanding examples of who we are and what we stand for as a School. I look forward to hearing them share their reflection on their year later this evening.

And now to the staff. We have three long serving members of staff who have each served over 20 years at the school who will not be with us after this year. I offer my thanks to these staff on behalf of the Pulteney community.

Mr Richard Woolford joined the Pulteney community in 1990 and throughout that time he has held many roles associated with Health and Physical Education, Outdoor Education and cocurricular activities. We thank him for his service.

Mr George Cleland joined Pulteney in May 1999 and throughout that time has provided lengthy service in ICT and eServices. George also completed a short term as a replacement Science Teacher in 2014. He has been a collegial friend and co-worker.

We thank Mrs Ruth Howley for her leadership and expertise during her 25 years at Pulteney. Ruth joined the School in 1992 and was appointed Head of Music from 1999 to 2011. Ruth has shared her passion for Music, English and Media Studies with her many students and we will miss her gracious and calm demeanour.

Would you please join with me in acknowledging our long serving members of staff who have departed this year.

Warren Bennis, founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California states “Leadership is the capacity to transform vision into reality.” Our teachers at Pulteney are all leaders. They walk beside, they elicit greatness in others, they harness courage in themselves and in others, they innovate, they empower and they care – deeply. I thank all of our teaching and support staff across all four sub-schools for your dedication and the selfless investment of yourselves in educating our students and in bringing Pulteney’s vision for learning to life.

“Successful teachers look at each child and see the gem that is inside and communicate this vision back to the child.” I count myself extremely privileged to work with such a dedicated team of people who make this happen, each and every day.

I thank the members of the School Executive team for a year of unstinting effort. Greg Atterton, Deputy Principal; Mark Bourchier, Director of Community Relations; Head of one ninety, Nicholas Brice; Malcolm Dolman, Director of Enrolments; Head of Kurrajong, Virginia Evans; Head of Prep, Denise O’Loughlin; Sue Porter, Director of Employee Relations and Development; Head of Middle School, Paul Ryan; Troy Thomson, Director of Learning Technologies and Garry Whitelock, Business Director.

I also extend my sincere thanks to my Executive Assistant Ruth Barnden and to all the staff in the learning support, student welfare, finance, reception, administration and student services, cocurricular, community relations, eServices, grounds and maintenance teams. Would you please join me in expressing our thanks for our wonderful staff.

To all parents and caregivers, I thank you for your ongoing support of Pulteney and for providing us the opportunity, indeed the great privilege, of educating your children.

And finally, I extend to all members of our School community my very best wishes for a safe and inclusive Christmas and a peaceful holiday.

Thank you.