Farewell Year 12, Class of 2020

In my blog this week I share with you my final address to the Year 12 students of 2020.

I want you to imagine that you have just transported yourself in a time machine to the year 2030. What do you think will be different? First, most of you would be 28 years old and heading for the big 30! Some of you would be married, some of you may have children, a mortgage and house, be possibly on your 2nd or 3rd job. Some of you may still be studying and some of you may well be doctors just like me. It is all too difficult to even begin thinking about what it might be like in 10 years.

Whether you like it or not, time does not stand still and without knowing it life has passed you by in the blink of an eye. Think back 13 years ago when you started school for the very first time, you were there holding on to your mum or dad’s hand, small enough to hide behind your parents or even five years ago when you started high school wearing your brand new Cardijn College uniform and gathered in the amphitheatre. In those five years what has changed at Cardijn? Over the last three months if you have been using the library you would have met Emily Bennet who was the College Captian when you started in Year 8. In reading the 2016 magazine I was struck by the names of students who received both leadership and academic awards in Year 8 – yes, you know who are. Those five years have come and gone in the blink of an eye.

So very soon you will officially finish as Year 12 students, your formal studies have come to an end and preparation for your final assessments and examinations are now your priority. But before you finish as our official school leaders, I take one more opportunity to provide you with some thoughts and something I want you to remember. I have six points:

  1. In every challenge, there is an opportunity waiting and in every period of struggle and turmoil there are new dreams born – There is no question that 2020 will be remembered in history for COVID19. The way you have responded to this challenge has been remarkable and you have seized the opportunities. You have always been optimistic and seen the glass as half full. Congratulations on your endeavours – you have made the most of each day and treated it as if it is your last. I express my deep admiration in the way you have tackled these unprecedented times. Your support of each other, your positivity, your preparedness to adapt and the way you have accepted the COVID restrictions and still made the most of each day has been remarkable. Do not underestimate what you have done and what you have achieved. 
  2. Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards – Take everything you have learnt over the last five years at Cardijn into your life forwards – this is how you will make a difference in shaping your future, our future. Remember our teaching that in society we have a preferential option or priority for those people in our community who are doing it tough and need our support. Be aware that people like me (the older generation) will depend on you to lead our nation and our community to be a place of peace, hope and love.
  3. As you begin a new journey as an adult remember that Life is like a camera, focus on what is important and you will capture the moment perfectly! 90% of the photos on Instagram are pictures of people. Capture each of these moments, especially today!
  4. Remember that happiness is enjoying the little things in life – be observant to these little things normally captured in interactions with people. That smile, the morning greeting or that presence in silence when you are with someone special.
  5. In our current climate and global circumstance, I say to you that if there is ever a time to step up, it is right now!! I need you to step up and be counted and ensure that our leaders of today, politicians, business leaders and the general public understand that the pillars on which this great country has been built are our democracy, our freedoms, our Christian values and that decisions that are made are in the interest of Australia and its people and recognise the fundamental importance of the dignity of every person. That all lives matter and that our future is dependent on harmony, love, and compassion.
  6. Last, but not least, I ask that you continue to say a little prayer for all your friends, our students at Cardijn, the staff and your families. In your prayer ask for blessings from God for all of us that we may continue to do this amazing work at Cardijn College in the wonder of God’s creation in the Southern Vales region.

I ask for God’s blessing on you the Class of 2020, that you may live life abundantly, blessed with your hopes and aspirations and importantly good health. We ask for our patrons Joseph Cardijn, St Marcellin Champagnat and Mary our loving mother to pray for us and I want you to know that we will always remember to pray for one another.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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