Farewell Class of 2021

(Words from our Year 12 farewell events)

Five years ago you were sitting in the seats immediately behind you as Year 8 students. The school captains Sebastian and Chelsea began their farewell speech with a quote from Dr Seuss. “Sometimes you will never know the value of the moment until it becomes a memory”. Today, there will be many moments, special moments and soon they will be memories. There have been many moments this year that are now treasured moments. Who can forget Athon Day and your dance and, in fact, many of your performances during that day? Who can forget those special moments during your retreat and then again, the Dinner Dance, and what about Sports Day? I guess there were many moments during your five years, some are distant memories, but others are etched in our minds. I have attended many old scholar reunions over the years and when we recount the days of school, whether 10, 20 or 30 years ago, what students remember most are the people that made an impact on their lives. They remember what they did, how they made them feel and how it somehow defined who they are today.

However, your experience at Cardijn is much more than what I have already mentioned. At Cardijn I hope you will always remember the virtues of your House, the five important characteristics of being Marist, the importance of family values, living a simple authentic life, being truly present to people, to love your work and what you do and importantly understand the role of mother, modelled to us in Mary, the mother of Jesus. Joseph Cardijn left us a great method that is well-known both by Christians but also the corporate world, and that is to view each situation using our method To See, To Judge and To Act. This method is a great gift to humanity and I hope that you will remember this as well as the memories you have of the people close to you.

Our hopes for you are that you will be insightful and impactful young citizens who through your education at Cardijn can make a difference in this broken world. The future of this world is with you as you leave Cardijn, and you join all those graduates from Cardijn before you. We place this trust in you, get out there and do what you need to do. Follow your dreams, aim high, never give up and make a difference.

I want to acknowledge and thank two very special people – your school captains. Michaela and Patrick, you stepped up and took on the leadership last year without knowing what would happen this year, but in the midst of these unprecedented challenges you have stood your ground and made the most of this year. Your leadership has been inspiring, each bringing amazing gifts. Patrick, you are a man of many talents, whether music or sports but I didn’t know that you worked at KFC, as I would have visited you every week at least – I like those KFC moments, your sense of calm, positivity, humour, love for family and being active in our faith community at St Luke’s – thank you. Michaela, you are simply amazing, your presence, poise, setting an example for your peers and your generosity. You have a wonderful manner, welcoming and always friendly. Your public speaking, poise and focus on your studies are inspirational. To our Mission Captains Dylan and Annie, we are so blessed to have had you in these roles. Your faith and your commitment were simply amazing. Your achievements and everything that you stand for are so visibly seen and acknowledged. I extend my thanks to all the other student leaders, House, Drama, Sport and Music Captains, well done you have made a difference in the lives of the Cardijn community.

To the parents and families of the class of 2021, our students could not have flourished without your loving support. Thank you for entrusting us with your child’s education, thank you for your support and thank you for working with us to inspire this wonderful group of Cardijn graduates. 2021 is also the last year for some families as your child finishes Year 12. Some of you have had a very long association with Cardijn and we thank you for sticking with us.

I extend my deep gratitude to the staff at Cardijn, I could not have asked to be with a more dedicated and committed staff. They do everything for this school and its students and I am very proud of their vocation to young people and their love for this community. To our graduating class of 2021, thank you for bringing so much life to our school.

So very soon you will finish officially as Year 12 students, your formal studies are now complete and preparation for final assessments and examinations are now your priority. Before you finish as our official school leaders, I take one more opportunity to leave you with some wisdom:
• 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 2021 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 half full. Congratulations on your endeavours, you have made the most of each day and treated it as if it was your last. I express my deep admiration for the way in which you have tackled these unprecedented times. Your support of each other, your positivity, preparedness to adapt and the way you have accepted the COVID restrictions have been remarkable. Do not underestimate what you have done and achieved.
• Life can sometimes be better understood backwards but it must be lived forwards – Take every bit about what you have learnt over the last five years at Cardijn into your life forwards – this is how you will make a difference as a young person shaping the future of Australia. Remember our teaching that in society we have a responsibility to look out for those who live at the margins. Be conscious that the older generations will depend on you to lead our nation, our community to be a place of peace, hope and love.
• As you begin your next journey as an adult remember that life is like a camera, you need to focus on what is important and you will capture the moment perfectly! 90% of photos on Instagram are pictures of people. Capture each of these moments especially today!
• Remember that happiness is enjoying the little things in life – be observant of 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 is an important part of our wellbeing.
• 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!! You will be voting for the first time next year in our state and federal elections. I need you to step up and be counted and ensure that our leaders of today, politicians, CEOs and the public understand that the issues relating to climate change matter and as a country the responsibility for carbon emissions is, in fact, with all of us. This is the major world issue now and into the future.
• Last, but not least, I ask that you continue to pray for all of us. In your prayer ask for blessings from God on the teachers and staff of Cardijn College, that they may continue to bring that special magic of learning and care for each student in their care.

Class of 2021 my prayer for you, is that you may live life abundantly, blessed with your hopes and aspirations and importantly good health and in our tradition, we pray:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Irish blessing

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. 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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