It was a great pleasure to host parents and the Senior College community for the Valedictory Assembly this week. It was a special opportunity to count our blessings, even in the most frustrating of circumstances, and activate our sense of gratitude to the class of 2021.

The 2021 year group were diverse with many talents. Musicians, stand-up comedians, a pilot, thespians, sportsmen, academics, artists, gamers, directors, designers – they were a wonderful group and brought much colour and life to our community.

Our graduates will be remembered for their spirit, their deep love and support of the College, their commitment and their inclusiveness. We thank them for the privilege of sharing their journey from boyhood to manhood.

We were extraordinarily blessed by the student leadership in the College who did much to build community in difficult times. Fresh ways of thinking and doing were evident. College Captain, John Brennan, in partnership with Vice Captain, Matias Jensen, and Service Captain, Reuben Mudge, went over and above to ensure we survived and prospered. Their guidance and the collective initiatives of the entire graduate class, assisted enormously to connect us as a community, particularly during remote learning.  It is a sign that the future is in good hands.

We are proud of all our students. I was particularly moved by the speeches from our College senior leaders. I have taken excerpts from each of the speeches to provide a sense of the occasion and their gratitude to the College. 

College Captain – John Brennan

"For some of us, we have been at Marist for more than half of our lives. Over this time, we have been granted numerous opportunities in sports, academics, arts and service. But most importantly, what separates this school from others is the formation of family. It is not very often that boys can proudly say that their school was not just a place to learn, but a place to grow side-by-side with each other, forming this family bond. I am very grateful to have been a part of this Marist family and experience the highs and lows with you boys right beside me.

It is because of this which makes it so hard to say goodbye. We have achieved what we set out to do and it is with mixed emotions that I say the job here is done. Our chapter might be at an end, but the book has just begun, with Marist continuing to guide us along the unfamiliar and rocky path that is life. Saying this, our journey was the toughest ever experienced. But we finished it, showing that we as a graduating class are prepared for anything that will occur in the future. 

So as we venture out into the world and all take our different paths, I’ll look forward to seeing you later down the track. We can look back proudly at all the highs and lows, the successes and the challenges, but most importantly, we can look back at the time we have shared as Marist Brothers.

College Vice Captain - Matias Jensen

Everyday experiences will become memories. Habits will change, and we’ll sail away, with no direction except for what our hearts tell us. But because of our school, our culture, our community, we are filled with deeply rooted values that few other schools could have provided. So when the times get tough, we can look inwards to the memories and values we’ve learnt at Marist College Canberra and find our way. 

Sitting in the crowd are some of the people responsible for who we’ve become, the teachers - you are the means to our success. Success that can be measured in numerous ways. Not only educating our minds but our hearts, you are here because you love working with us and working in this school. And this care and commitment to us was underlined by your extraordinary effort in lockdown to keep us educated and cared for. 

You have done a fine job with the men sitting in front of you - we are young and perhaps a bit naive now, but in the years to come we will recognise that you have an unconditional faith in what we can become. Continue your brilliant work.

To my peers, the best way to thank your teacher is by taking your experience at Marist, and fulfilling your potential in the spirit of what you learnt in this great school. Through the challenges of life, use your knowledge and seek your purpose, for our teachers, our school, and most importantly for yourselves. Finding our purpose might not be easy, but take this challenge on with a smile, and know that every day you are supported by the ones sitting next to you and the ones sitting in front of you, every step of the way. One of my greatest teachers, Doctor Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

College Service Captain - Reuben Mudge

Mums, Dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and other carers,

Although the last 13 years are ours, they equally belong to you and have been just as important, even if they have been seen with an outside eye. School for all the boys being celebrated this afternoon would not be possible without your love, support, and care. You are the building blocks of who we are as young men and have nurtured our needs and wants from before we may have even realised and appreciated it. Just as your boys have gone through change, you have gone from the loving parents holding your son’s hand and assuring them everything will be ok ahead of their first day of school, to the equally loving parents, farewelling those same boys, notably a bit bigger, into the unknown. Whether you are witnessing your first of five children graduating, your last of five or even your only child, this moment is equally as important for all. It is a stamp of appreciation to your parenting and should not go unnoticed. 

Marist has aided the formation of lifelong friends for the boys but has also encouraged parents to form relationships of similar importance, making Marist much more than just a school. Whilst you all are seated proudly in front of us today, the same can be said for your boys, who are proud that they can call themselves your sons, a bond which is indescribable using only words.