In the last week of the primary school term, my extended family and I attended the Class of 2017, Grade 6 Graduation. As one of the two School Captains, Master 12 played the role of MC along with his female counterpart. We began the evening listening to a speech prepared and delivered by the School’s Principal, Michele Nolan. Michele has been with Master 12 as Assistant Principal for the 7 years he has attended this local primary school and was appointed to the role of Principal at the beginning of Term 4.

The words Michele chose for her speech were thoughtful and meaningful. With her permission, I have shared her speech here with you today. Her reflections and insights reminded me of the importance of our school years and provided a wonderful perspective that I thought you’d also enjoy. Her words can just as easily be applied to adults as it can be to students, especially her advice about the value of a positive outlook, encouraging the students to try new things, the value of relationships and social connections, the importance of living a life of happiness and fulfilment, and the reminder to take the time for reflection and gratitude.

As we head into a new year, I encourage you to take the parts from Michele’s speech that resonate with you and your own goals for 2018.

In Michele’s own words . . .


I’d like to warmly welcome everyone this evening. It is my pleasure to to say a few words of farewell and congratulations to our Graduating Class of Year 6, 2017. I trust that we have prepared you well for Secondary School and that you will all reach your full potential. We are confident that you are ready for this big transition from the familiar faces and surrounds of Primary School, to the new routines, teachers and classmates of Secondary School. Over the last few years we have focused on the principles of PERMA and I offer you a few suggestions about how you can take this knowledge with you into Secondary School.

P is for Positive Emotion

Being able to focus on positive emotions is more than just smiling, it is your ability to be optimistic and view the past, present, and future in a positive way. This positive view of life as you move into Secondary School will inspire you to be more creative, take more chances and make new friends. In everyone’s life there are good days and bad days, things that bring you joy and things that will make you sad or may be boring. So I challenge you to focus on the highs and positive aspects of your life. In times of trouble or challenge be grateful for the most important things in your life – your family, friends, educational opportunities and that we live in such a great country. Enjoyment comes from intellectual stimulation and creativity, so embrace the challenges of Secondary School.  A positive outlook is needed, because if you enjoy the work you will be asked to do you are more likely to persevere and battle challenges through creative and alternative solutions.

E is for Engagement

It is important in our lives to be able to find activities that take our full engagement.  Engagement in the activities in our lives is important for us to learn, grow and nurture our personal happiness. So be open to all that Secondary School offers – try new things and participate in everything on offer. You might discover a new interest – something you never thought of before which will bring you great joy.

Everyone is different and we all find enjoyment in different things whether it’s playing an instrument, playing a sport, dancing, art, working on an interesting project or even a hobby. This type of ‘flow’ of engagement is important to stretch our intelligence, skills and emotional capabilities.

R is for Relationships

Relationships and social connections are one of the most important aspects of life. Building positive relationships with your parents, siblings, peers, and friends are an important way to spread love and joy. Having strong relationships gives you support in difficult times.  So as you move into Secondary School take the opportunity to make new friends.  Be kind and respectful of everyone.  Sometimes you have to be nice to others, not because they are nice, but because you are. Strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up.

Audrey Hepburn once said: You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than what others say about him.

M is for Meaning

Having purpose and meaning in our life, rather than just the pursuit of pleasure and material wealth, is important to living a life of happiness and fulfilment. The idea is to find ways to connect yourself to something extraordinary and bigger than your own needs. For example, if I were to ask you about Moira Kelly, Gandhi or the Dalai Lama, it is a pretty safe bet that you would describe Moira Kelly as one who is devoting her life to caring and making the lives of children better; Gandhi, to be a voice of equality for all and the need for change in the world; and the Dalai Lama as an educational leader and role model of compassion. So I hope that in the future you look for opportunities to help others and do things without any expectation of something in return.  It doesn’t have to be something big – even little kindnesses can make someone’s life better. A little thought and a little kindness are worth a great deal more than money.

A is for Accomplishments

Having goals and ambition in life can help us to achieve things that can give us a sense of accomplishment. In your new school set yourself realistic but challenging goals. Just putting in the effort to achieve those goals will give you a sense of satisfaction. And when you finally achieve them, a sense of pride and fulfilment will be reached. Having accomplishments in life is important to push ourselves so we can thrive and flourish.

In conclusion let me please thank each of you for the great life and leadership you have provided to the Primary school community this year. You are a talented and compassionate group of young people with a bright future ahead. I have been proud to know most of you since you started in Kindergarten. Enjoy your celebrations tonight.

Let mum and dad take lots of photos of you – in the future you will look back at your beauty and wide-eyed excitement.

Spend your last day of Primary School in reflection and gratitude to your teachers and the wonderful friends you have made. Aim high and make big plans for your future.

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