Welcome to our Academic Muster. Today we celebrate the academic achievements of our recent Year 12 cohort, particularly our special guests on stage.
When it comes to academic success – to paraphrase the Headmaster – St Peter’s College is weird. Our boys aren’t weird, mind you; they are – in general – ell-adjusted, strong and lovely young men – but they become statistically weird when you consider them as a group. It is undoubtedly strange that a non-selective, boys-only school in Adelaide should have over 13% of their Year 12 cohort achieving in the top 1% of the whole country. This kind of achievement may not appear weird to us, of course, just to the outside world, which is part of the beauty of this special school.
As we reflect on such achievements, it is important that we remember that today is not just about the young men who achieved an ATAR above 99, even though they are more visible this morning. Rather, today we honour the growth, effort and resilience of all our learners, especially those who have overcome significant challenges to achieve their excellence. You can read some of their stories on our website, which is important.
It is also important to stress that these scholars’ academic success is not in addition to, or in spite of, their sporting and co-curricular engagement. Rather, their academic success is a function of their sporting and co-curricular engagement; effort and achievement in the first domain breeds effort and achievement in the second. There are few greater truisms in education than this.
Repeating well-worn advice like this doesn’t always strike a match, though, particularly when it comes to helping current scholars understand the nuances of academic high-performance. One useful thing we can do is to listen to these young men, particularly in regards to what they recognise helped push them into that high-performance space. So, as is tradition, they kindly agreed to write down the strategies that worked for them. The data is fascinating.
In general, their responses featured many references to academic support services like the Year 12 College and the Old Scholar Academic Mentoring program, but the best insights come – if you’ll permit me to be really nerdy – from a word frequency count. The results might surprise you. Or maybe not.
In their responses concerning the strategies that gave them an academic edge, the words our high-flyers used least included: “exam,” “university,” “employment” and “results.” The words they used most were “balance,” “life,” and friends.” There’s something about this data that really appeals to me: the things these boys worked out were least important are all things that come at the end of a process, and the things that were most important are part of the process of high achievement. This means our highest academic achievers recognise that academic achievement is a process, not a product. With this in mind, my advice to you, when it comes to your own journey of academic excellence, is to focus on the climb rather than the summit. As Tim Macartney-Snape – the first Australian to summit Everest (it is worth noting he did it in ski boots and without supplementary oxygen) – observed when asked how he achieved his goal, these sorts of things happen “one step at a time.”
Deputy Headmaster – Learning and Teaching
Dux of School Address
Good morning official party, staff, parents and boys, I stand before you all here today, with a question. If I were to ask you, what the two keys on the Saints logo represented, what would you say?
This was the predicament that I was faced with in 2016, when I had just returned to my grandparent’s house from my first day at Saints. My grandpa had spotted the school logo on my uniform and asked me, “Darren, do you know what those two keys represent?”. At the time, being a naïve young kid in year 5, I didn’t give the question much thought and simply dismissed it, telling my grandpa that I didn’t know, and I would get back to him soon. And surprise surprise, he did not hear back from me that year. The following year yielded a similar line of questioning from my Grandpa, and the question remained unanswered, as the same rehearsed answer was recycled, and the same unfulfilled promises to get back to him were made. This cycle continued throughout my schooling and my grandpa still hasn’t received a concrete answer to this day.
However, with the benefit of hindsight and the unique perspective of being an old scholar, internal reflection has finally allowed me to provide my grandpa with the answer he was looking for, all those years ago. And fortunately for me, he is here in the crowd to listen to it. Now, if I were to ask Father Theo what the two keys of St Peter’s College represented, I’m sure he would provide us with a profound biblical explanation, and similarly, I’d guarantee you that Mr Browning has his own insightful interpretation of their symbolism. However, with my own Saints experience in mind, I believe that the two keys of St Peter’s College represent how each and every Saints student is provided with the keys to becoming successful, young men. And most importantly there are two keys, symbolising how the founders of this school didn’t just want their students to excel in just academics, or just sports, but the founders of this school envisioned future saints students becoming successful, well-rounded and multifaceted young men.
If you were to take a look at the old scholars here on the stage, you would see the embodiment of this sentiment. Amongst the group of high achievers on stage, you have academics, who also happen to be athletes, musicians, artists and leaders to name a few. So if there was any advice I could give to a young Saints boy listening in the crowd, it is to grasp the opportunities at Saints and to use those keys to open as many doors as you can to become that well-rounded, multifaceted young man like those on the stage today.
To conclude my speech, I would like to express my gratitude to a few key people who have made my schooling journey so unique. First, I would like to thank all the teachers who have had me here at Saints, there are too many to mention but you all know who you are. Thank you all so very much. A special mention to Mr Jaldiani, Mr Coventry, Mr Crawley, Mr Becker, Mr Vari and Ms O’Loughlin, who have all had a huge impact in shaping the person I am today. I would also like to thank my wonderful group of friends, most of which are all up here with me today. You guys really shaped my experience at Saints, and I most definitely could not have done it without all of you, and I’m so proud of you all for achieving this level of excellence in your academic results! Lastly, I would like to thank my parents and grandparents, who are with me today. Thank you for always believing in me, and providing me with the amazing opportunity to attend this school. And a special thanks to my Grandpa, who I look forward to discussing my answer with after this muster. Finally, I would like to wish you all the best of luck with the remainder of 2024, in all facets of your schooling life.
Thank you all again!