2016 Principal's Speech Night Address

“Pulteney Celebrates” 2016

Chair of the Board of Governors, Mr Tim Goodes, Members of the Board of Governors, Trustees of the Pulteney Foundation, Distinguished guests, members of staff, parents, grandparents, friends and especially students of Pulteney Grammar School, it gives me great pleasure to address you this evening at this superb event that reflects upon and celebrates our 2016 school year.

Tonight we have two aims: to celebrate and to express our gratitude.  We changed the name from Speech Night to “Pulteney Celebrates” as we felt the label did not accurately represent why we are gathered here.  I also quietly hoped that it meant I could give a much shorter speech and perhaps the Chair of the Board might do the same…

Our Learning and Performance Culture Framework, that guides everything we do at Pulteney, focuses on three key areas: Students, Learning and Community.  Tonight, we will be celebrating our achievements in, and giving thanks for, each of these important facets of our School.

In the busy-ness of our daily work and play, it can become challenging to acknowledge the importance of celebration.  Society in general tends to define success by how much one completes and accumulates. At times it can feel as if we are caught in a cycle of rushing from one achievement to another. We must value our successes. Celebrating together this evening gives us time to pause and take note of what we have achieved, individually and collectively, to honour those who have excelled, and to give thanks.

I am always amazed by how much we can acknowledge and applaud in these two hours!  The awards, presentations and performances represent much of what makes Pulteney such a wonderful place to be.  However, I would add that it is this shared sense of excitement and enthusiasm for all that we do, each and every day, that is more important than any one prize or shield or trophy.  At Pulteney we are a strong and inclusive community – this is our greatest strength and it does not happen by accident.  Every individual contributes to our success as a collaborative school.  I thank each and every one of you for that.

Last year, in my address, I stated: What we do at Pulteney, every day, is make decisions to create opportunities for our school community, now and into the future. 

As our Board Chair Tim Goodes has mentioned, this year, we have articulated a clear, decisive and relevant strategic plan and launched our exciting master plan.  The process of sharing these with our community has been made all the more satisfying knowing that the priorities identified and adopted in these plans have come directly from the valuable feedback we gathered from our extensive community consultation last year. 

When people ask me why I do what I do, I always come back to my firmly held belief that education is one of those few occupations through which I can effect the greatest good for the greatest number.  What we do at Pulteney each day has a positive impact on the futures of the young people in our care and, therefore, bodes well for the future of our world.  Our students, our children, are world-changers.

This global connectedness will only increase.  And just as well.  We need our young people to embrace the multitude of opportunities available to them across the globe, so as to combat any insular, divisive and biased perceptions that can so easily breed due to ignorance. 

Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan stated: “Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”

Global education can be empowering and transformative in terms of the way in which our students view the world.  At Pulteney, we will continue to extend our students’ understanding of difference and provide opportunities for them to become active global participants.  As a school, we have been working to forge links at a global level with a range of friends; we have already formed friendships in Zambia, our ongoing links with schools in Japan and Germany have been invaluable in developing our students’ language proficiency and cultural understanding and we are building enduring relationships in Nepal.  This year we also looked to China and our basketball team will travel to the USA.  The future opportunities that these relationships bring to our students, staff and community are very exciting and we have a commitment to continuing to investigate ways in which we can expand our students’ horizons.

At Pulteney, so many noteworthy individual and collective activities take place each 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:

  • Our Prep Primary Engineering and Mathematics team winning the Australasian Pacific Final of the Tournament of Minds. The successful production of Pulteney Winemakers “From Class to Glass” Shiraz.
  • The moving Remembrance Day Service.
  • Our Senior Debaters winning their division in the State Championships.
  • The involvement of Middle School students and staff in developing the concept designs of our new Middle School facility.
  • The fabulous national recognition for Pulteney in the R.A.C.I. Titration Chemistry Competition where we had two teams in the top ten nationally and were awarded first place in all of Australia.
  • The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that established our sister school relationship in China with the Taihang Road Primary School in Adelaide’s sister city Qingdao.The First XVIII (18) Football Team for their significant victory against St Ignatius in the Aish Warhurst Perpetual Trophy.
  • The purchase of the two properties located in the midst of our school buildings which provides greater flexibility for future capital planning.
  • This year’s Reconciliation Assembly, at which I was honoured to receive, on behalf of the School, a shield, which is a symbol of protection for all in our community, crafted by Kaurna elder Jack Buckskin from a tree in the South Park Lands. 
  • The Winter Music Concert held for the first time at the ABC Studios with outstanding performances from students aged between 10 and 18 years of age, accompanied and guided by our skilled music staff… and our outstanding music ensembles, the Stage Band, Jazz on the Terrace, Concert Band and the Grammarphones who all achieved brilliant results at the Balaklava Eisteddfod 
  • The greening of the Prep School that has provided a hands on learning environment for our junior students and beautified the play yard.
  • Pulteney Grammar’s convincing win, for the fourth consecutive year, in the Anglican Cup.
  • The Preptacular, 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 and Year 12 Art Exhibitions, “Into the Woods Jr” and Year 12 Production “Lord of the Flies” as well as a multitude of other events that have showcased our young people’s considerable talents.

Walt Disney said, ‘You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful idea in the world, but it requires people to make the dream reality'.  I take this opportunity this evening to give thanks to all who have contributed to our School community:

The Pulteney Old Scholars Association is an active and engaged group in our School community; they are great supporters of our current students and staff and they work tirelessly to keep our Old Scholars (including the Queen’s Old Scholars) connected to Pulteney.  I would like to make special mention of Old Scholar Fred Priest and his wife Shirley who have travelled all the way from Moculta to be with us this evening.  Through their wonderful generosity, we will be able to provide a number of scholarships in years to come for students who would not normally be able to attend Pulteney Grammar School.  Thank you Fred and Shirley for your ongoing support of our school.

To the Friends of Pulteney, thank you for your tireless efforts in promoting and facilitating the many ways in which our strong School community comes together.

I express my deep gratitude to our Board of Governors.  Our Board is a highly skilled group of individuals who have volunteered their considerable expertise to provide sound governance and considered leadership.  I thank them for their time, their commitment and their ongoing support and encouragement.

To the outgoing Chair, Tim Goodes, thank you for your service; 4 years as Chair and 12 years on the Board of Governors.  And now you have to get off!....  But seriously, thank you Tim for your insightful leadership, the investment of your time and energy and your generosity of spirit in what is a demanding role.  Thank you too to your family (Nicolle, Kevin, Chelsea and Liam) who saw much less of you because of your commitment to our School.  I also thank Deputy Chair Greg Keene and the Chairs of the Board Committees, Jack Madsen and Brooke Willshire, Cathy Miller and Allen Candy and Andrew Phillips for their guidance and leadership.  I thank, too, the Trustees of the Pulteney Foundation and Mr Colin Dudley as Chair. 

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 the magnificent Star Wars films.  Now, there won’t be any props suddenly appearing at this salubrious occasion as there were at Valedictory, no light sabres popping out from underneath academic gowns – I can assure you.  However, my message to you is the same.   Be like Yoda – wise, thoughtful and dedicated to helping others realise their potential. Don’t be like a stormtrooper: faceless and dispensable, in some cases, a clone.  Be an advocate for justice like Luke Skywalker or be Leia, standing up to a regime that does not have people at its heart.

Take advantage of the learning you have attained at Pulteney Grammar School.  Value and nurture the friendships you have invested in during your formative years.  Go out and be luminous.  Be a beacon for others.  Shine your light, share your force.  Importantly, love you and love what you do.  “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.”  Buddha

And don’t forget to keep us, your school, in the loop.  While you will continue to grow and change, Pulteney will remain a constant in your lives.  Our door will always be open to you and we look forward to seeing your growth beyond school and supporting you, as our newest Old Scholars, in your bright futures.

This evening I also acknowledge the exceptional leadership provided by our School Captains, Lucy Sara and Henry Saxon, and Vice Captains Charlotte Brader and Jack Dean.  Continuing with the Star Wars theme, Yoda states,

“You will find only what you bring in.”  Yoda believes, as do I, that our world is a reflection of ourselves.  Our student leaders have given of themselves throughout this year and, in doing so, they have influenced our school in positive and meaningful ways.  I have marvelled at their energy, resilience and compassion and I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside them in the leadership of Pulteney.  I look forward to hearing them share their reflection on their achievements with you later this evening.

And now to the staff. 

Confucius stated: “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.”

Our staff are deeply invested in finding and nurturing the immense potential inside all students so that they are equipped to explore the boundless possibilities that lie ahead of them.

To do this takes determination, hard work and a commitment to the pursuit of excellence. I thank all of our teaching and support staff across all four sub-schools who have invested so much of themselves and their tremendous expertise in the pursuit of this vision for the benefit of our students and our School. I count myself extremely privileged to work with such a dedicated team.

I thank the members of the School Executive team for a year of outstanding effort.   Greg Atterton, Deputy Principal; Mark Bourchier, Director of Community Relations; Head of one ninety, Nicholas Brice; Chris Cartwright, Property and Facilities Manager; 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, community relations, eServices, grounds and maintenance teams.

Would you please join me in expressing our thanks for our wonderful staff.

We have a number of long serving staff who are leaving us at the end of this year.  Collectively they represent a total of 113 years of service!  I consider it a privilege to offer my thanks to these staff on behalf of the Pulteney community.

I take this opportunity to thank Ms Jill Rose for her leadership and expertise in teaching Indonesian to our junior students, Early Learning to Year 6 over 20 years. Jill was appointed to the position of Indonesian teacher in the Preparatory School in 1997.  Jill has been a most active and supportive colleague and leader both within Pulteney and externally through the Indonesian Teachers’ Association.  Jill has made an important contribution to the advancement of languages at Pulteney Grammar School.

Also joining Pulteney in 1997, Jennifer Hewitson has given service to so many families over 20 years.  Originally appointed as the Assistant to the Manageress of the School’s Clothing Shop, Jenny became Uniform Shop Manager in 2006. Throughout her time at Pulteney, Jenny has been one of the first ports of call for our newly enrolled students and their parents and, then, as students have grown, Jenny has been there to assist families with uniform updates.    I am very grateful for her energy and commitment.  

Cathy Lange, who has been on leave this year, pursuing her passion for directing and leading choirs with the Department of Education, will be leaving Pulteney to continue in this role – one that her father also held for many years. This appointment is a testament to Cathy’s amazing talent, outstanding expertise and hard work. Cathy joined Pulteney in September 1984 as a teacher in the Prep School.  Some years later, Cathy was appointed to roles that aligned with her passion for music and drama. Throughout these 32 years, Cathy has provided outstanding and inspiring music and classroom experiences for our Pulteney students.

John Cichinski is retiring from Pulteney Grammar School after 41 amazing years of service! John joined Pulteney in January 1976 as Assistant Master in the Secondary School, teaching Geography and History.  John has gone on to teach other subjects including senior Economics and, during his time at Pulteney, he has held many roles including but not limited to: Housemaster of Miller House, Master in Charge of Soccer, Head of the Faculty of Society and Environment for many years, Acting Head of Kennion-Miller House and Tutor.  He has always been a passionate supporter of cricket and soccer, being a keen player of the latter at State and National levels.

Those who know John well, know of his quirky sense of humour, his love for teaching and his sheer dogged determination in overcoming some serious health issues.  I’ll add two more from my perspective: John, you are one of the most resilient and optimistic people I have had the privilege to meet and I will always be grateful for your unwavering encouragement of me in my role. 

To all parents and caregivers, I thank you for your passionate support of all things Pulteney and for giving us the opportunity to work in partnership with you to give the greatest gift of all, for all of our children – the gift of education. 

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