This week at Year 10 Assembly, I invited our Year 10s to ask me any questions they might have. A lot of them related to rumours: a rumour that there would be no Year 12 jerseys in future; a rumour that there would be no informal assembly, etc., etc. What, it seemed to me, Year 10 was really asking was—will the traditions we are familiar with, have been looking forward to, continue? And can you provide us with some reassurance that they will?
Traditions matter of course. They provide structure, focus, even purpose and they mark the passage of time, they give shape to our year. Whether big or small, our traditions ultimately help shape the identity of our School; whether it be the girls decorating the School on Blue Days in support of competitors at QG sport, or the Year 12 girls closing Speech Day with the traditional ‘hat throwing’, these moments reinforce the girls’ sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves, to a Girls Grammar sisterhood that spans generations.
When there is such change our traditions can also provide stability, a sense of certainty, and we all prefer a world that is consistent, for change is often unsettling. In this particular year—while we embrace the excitement of new possibilities and certainly hope not to miss the opportunity of what we have been through to do things differently, even better—we do appreciate the value of honouring particular, meaningful milestones. The Volunteers Thank You Reception, for example, was held on Wednesday night and honoured the contribution of our parent volunteers who give so much to the School in very practical ways but who also contribute greatly to the creation of a sense of community spirit.
Term 4 is a time when much is in flux. Year 7s start to jostle with the confidence that soon they will no longer be the youngest in our School, Year 12 have overseen the changing of the guard—and are now deeply immersed in their external exams—while Year 11s start to imagine the mark they intend to leave as our future leaders.
Sometimes we enjoy the comfort of our traditions, and the reassurance they provide, without necessarily understanding what they represent, why they were begun and, importantly, why we believe they should continue. At a special assembly this week we recognised Remembrance Day and explained why, more than 100 years since World War I began, we can still find new ways of understanding its significance to our nation.
Speech Day this year will be an opportunity to ‘bookend’ this strange year—with our tradition of recognising achievement, celebrating all that our School stands for and gathering as a community—in a way that reminds us that just as we began the year well, we are fortunate to now be in a position, it seems, to end well. There were times when we imagined that might not be possible.
As we draw nearer to the end of this particular year, I hope we can find some comfort in our own traditions, in the rituals and moments that shape us all individually and bind us as a community.
Ms Jacinda Euler